Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani that his country has been subjected to an unprecedented smear campaign since the announcement that it would be hosting the 2022 World Cup. This is the first time the World Cup is being organised in an Arab country and in the Middle East.
The emir's statement was made during the opening of the 51st ordinary session of the elected Shura Council.
In this context, he pointed out that the opening of the Shura Council session was being held "in light of the state and people's preoccupation with preparing to host a historic event that constitutes one of our most important national projects, the World Cup."
Al Thani addressed a number of local and international issues, expressing his country's position on the developments in the region.
The Emir of Qatar stressed that since his country won the honour of hosting the World Cup, it has been subjected to an unprecedented campaign, which no host country has been exposed to, and initially, Qatar dealt with the matter in good faith, and even considered that some criticism is positive and useful.
"But it soon became clear to us that the campaign continues, expands and includes fabrication and double standards, until it reached an amount of ferocity that brought up many questions, unfortunately, about the real reasons and motives behind this campaign."
He stressed that Qatar's organisation of the World Cup is a test for the state. "Hosting the World Cup combines several components of credibility and the ability to make positive influence, by accepting the challenge and integrating it within our national projects and development plans."
"In short, it is an occasion for us to show who we are, not only in terms of the strength of our economy and institutions, but also in terms of our cultural identity."
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On domestic affairs, Al Thani said that the Qatari economy has continued to grow during the current year after the decline that occurred in 2020. Preliminary data indicates a growth in the domestic product during the first half of the year by 4.3 per cent. He pointed out that the rise in energy prices led to turning the expected budget deficit at the beginning of the year into a surplus of about 47.3 billion Qatari riyals ($13 billion) in the first half of the year.
Qatar, he added, has also become the first country in the world to have all of its cities accredited by the World Health Organisation as healthy cities.