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Qatar today stands on the brink of earning an historic distinction for Arab nations as Fifa decides the venues for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup.

Decision day for Qatar's World Cup bid



ZURICH //Qatar today stands on the brink of earning a historic distinction for Arab nations as football's international governing body decides where the 2022 World Cup should be staged.

On the eagerly awaited day, the executive committee of the International Federation of Association Football (Fifa) will also vote on whether the 2018 tournament should take place in England, Russia, Spain and Portugal or Belgium and the Netherlands.

Lobbying was continuing late into the night in Zurich hotels in last-ditch attempts to persuade committee members representing football around the world to confirm or change voting intentions on the venues for both events.

The battle to host the 2018 finals has attracted widespread attention, not least because of fears that reporting by the British media of alleged corruption involving Fifa members could provoke an anti-England backlash.

But there is excitement throughout the Middle East at the possibility that Qatar will, in 2022, become the first country from the region, and the first Muslim nation, to host football's grandest tournament.

Along with its 2022 rivals – the United States, South Korea, Japan and Australia – Qatar made its final presentation in Zurich yesterday.

Critics of the Qatari bid have included the authors of Fifa’s technical report, who listed 40°C-plus temperatures in June and July among the drawbacks.

But, in its closing submissions, Qatar reaffirmed its commitment to provide ideal conditions for both players and supporters. The advanced technology of stadiums, all located close to one another and capable of being dismantled and shipped to poorer countries after the tournament, was given special emphasis.

“All our stadiums, training sites and fan zones will be at 27 degrees C, all solar-powered and 100 per cent carbon neutral,” said Hassan al Thawadi, the leader of the Qatari effort. “The application for this technology goes far beyond stadiums. Heat will not be an issue, whatever the climate, and we want this to be a global, lasting legacy.”

The Gulf state has also enlisted charismatic individuals from the world of football to bolster its campaign.

Zinedine Zidane, a World Cup winner for France but of Algerian parentage, has featured in television advertisements in Switzerland, urging that football be recognised as a game “for everyone” in which the Middle East should now get its big chance.

Qatar’s financial muscle, and the goodwill of such stars, has given it hope of beating the other 2022 contenders. And for one leading British bookmaking firm, Qatar is the front runner.

Among the countries potentially standing in the way, South Korea, Japan and the US could find their efforts hampered by the knowledge that they have all hosted World Cups in the recent past (2002 in South Korea and Japan, 1994 in the US). Qatar has never even qualified for the tournament’s final stages, though Australia also fancies its chances, brashly offering to stage the 2022 event in “the world’s greatest playground”.

The star factor was made a more-or-less obligatory aspect of venue-choosing sporting summits when Tony Blair, then British prime minister, mounted a determined lobbying exercise in Singapore to clinch the 2012 Olympics for London.

The former US president Bill Clinton is in Zurich pleading his country’s case for the 2022 World Cup, while England’s 2018 charm offensive is underpinned by the presence of the prime minister, David Cameron, the second-in-line to the English throne, Prince William, and one of the world’s most famous footballers, David Beckham.

However, the Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin, has injected additional controversy into the proceedings by pointedly staying away and letting it be known he considered his country had come up against “unscrupulous competition”.

Some observers regarded Russia as England’s toughest competition. There is speculation – but no more than that in a contest whose outcome is simply impossible to predict – that Mr Putin’s snub may restore the joint Spain/ Portugal bid as the biggest stumbling block to English hopes.

Mr Cameron has sought to deflect attention from the row caused by the British Broadcasting Corporation’s insistence on screening a documentary, just three days before today’s vote, alleging corruption by Fifa members. He says he travelled to Zurich to talk up England’s bid, and for no other purpose.

But the BBC's defiance caused dismay to England bid officials, who feared further possible damage following earlier cash-for-votes claims by the UK's biggest selling quality paper, The Sunday Times.

Fifa made light of the BBC report, saying it re-examined matters investigated several years ago and did not lead to any prosecutions. It had previously criticised The Sunday Times for the manner in which it accused two executive committee members of separate wrongdoing. Yet Fifa also took the claims seriously enough to suspend the delegates concerned, reducing today's committee strength to 22.

English football fans and even the media are divided. Many fans accuse journalists of lacking patriotic spirit; the tabloid The Sun, a stablemate of The Sunday Times, launched a ferocious attack on the BBC, with a headline depicting the initials as standing for Brainless, Betraying Cretins. But The Independent said Fifa, and not the BBC, should be "facing British, and world, opprobrium".

In Switzerland's largest city, huddled against the wintry chill, one of the few certainties last night was that recriminations would continue for some time after Fifa's president, Sepp Blatter, announces the winners and losers later today.

crandall@thenational.ae
* With additional reporting by Reuters

Mental health support in the UAE

● Estijaba helpline: 8001717
● UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention hotline: 045192519
● UAE Mental health support line: 800 4673 (Hope)
More information at hope.hw.gov.ae

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian

Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).

Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming

Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics

Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

PRO BASH

Thursday’s fixtures

6pm: Hyderabad Nawabs v Pakhtoon Warriors

10pm: Lahore Sikandars v Pakhtoon Blasters

Teams

Chennai Knights, Lahore Sikandars, Pakhtoon Blasters, Abu Dhabi Stars, Abu Dhabi Dragons, Pakhtoon Warriors and Hyderabad Nawabs.

Squad rules

All teams consist of 15-player squads that include those contracted in the diamond (3), platinum (2) and gold (2) categories, plus eight free to sign team members.

Tournament rules

The matches are of 25 over-a-side with an 8-over power play in which only two fielders allowed outside the 30-yard circle. Teams play in a single round robin league followed by the semi-finals and final. The league toppers will feature in the semi-final eliminator.

The specs: 2019 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera

Price, base: Dh1.2 million

Engine: 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Power: 725hp @ 6,500pm

Torque: 900Nm @ 1,800rpm

Fuel economy, combined:  12.3L / 100km (estimate)

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

MATCH INFO

Champions League quarter-final, first leg

Ajax v Juventus, Wednesday, 11pm (UAE)

Match on BeIN Sports

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

Some of Darwish's last words

"They see their tomorrows slipping out of their reach. And though it seems to them that everything outside this reality is heaven, yet they do not want to go to that heaven. They stay, because they are afflicted with hope." - Mahmoud Darwish, to attendees of the Palestine Festival of Literature, 2008

His life in brief: Born in a village near Galilee, he lived in exile for most of his life and started writing poetry after high school. He was arrested several times by Israel for what were deemed to be inciteful poems. Most of his work focused on the love and yearning for his homeland, and he was regarded the Palestinian poet of resistance. Over the course of his life, he published more than 30 poetry collections and books of prose, with his work translated into more than 20 languages. Many of his poems were set to music by Arab composers, most significantly Marcel Khalife. Darwish died on August 9, 2008 after undergoing heart surgery in the United States. He was later buried in Ramallah where a shrine was erected in his honour.

TWISTERS

Director:+Lee+Isaac+Chung

Starring:+Glen+Powell,+Daisy+Edgar-Jones,+Anthony+Ramos

Rating:+2.5/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

THREE

Director: Nayla Al Khaja

Starring: Jefferson Hall, Faten Ahmed, Noura Alabed, Saud Alzarooni

Rating: 3.5/5

SPECS

Engine: 1.5-litre turbo

Power: 181hp

Torque: 230Nm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Starting price: Dh79,000

On sale: Now

Profile Box

Company/date started: 2015

Founder/CEO: Mohammed Toraif

Based: Manama, Bahrain

Sector: Sales, Technology, Conservation

Size: (employees/revenue) 4/ 5,000 downloads

Stage: 1 ($100,000)

Investors: Two first-round investors including, 500 Startups, Fawaz Al Gosaibi Holding (Saudi Arabia)

THE BIO

Bio Box

Role Model: Sheikh Zayed, God bless his soul

Favorite book: Zayed Biography of the leader

Favorite quote: To be or not to be, that is the question, from William Shakespeare's Hamlet

Favorite food: seafood

Favorite place to travel: Lebanon

Favorite movie: Braveheart

Indoor cricket World Cup:
Insportz, Dubai, September 16-23

UAE fixtures:
Men

Saturday, September 16 – 1.45pm, v New Zealand
Sunday, September 17 – 10.30am, v Australia; 3.45pm, v South Africa
Monday, September 18 – 2pm, v England; 7.15pm, v India
Tuesday, September 19 – 12.15pm, v Singapore; 5.30pm, v Sri Lanka
Thursday, September 21 – 2pm v Malaysia
Friday, September 22 – 3.30pm, semi-final
Saturday, September 23 – 3pm, grand final

Women
Saturday, September 16 – 5.15pm, v Australia
Sunday, September 17 – 2pm, v South Africa; 7.15pm, v New Zealand
Monday, September 18 – 5.30pm, v England
Tuesday, September 19 – 10.30am, v New Zealand; 3.45pm, v South Africa
Thursday, September 21 – 12.15pm, v Australia
Friday, September 22 – 1.30pm, semi-final
Saturday, September 23 – 1pm, grand final

PREMIER LEAGUE FIXTURES

All times UAE (+4 GMT)

Saturday
West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur (3.30pm)
Burnley v Huddersfield Town (7pm)
Everton v Bournemouth (7pm)
Manchester City v Crystal Palace (7pm)
Southampton v Manchester United (7pm)
Stoke City v Chelsea (7pm)
Swansea City v Watford (7pm)
Leicester City v Liverpool (8.30pm)

Sunday
Brighton and Hove Albion v Newcastle United (7pm)

Monday
Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion (11pm)

Where to donate in the UAE

The Emirates Charity Portal

You can donate to several registered charities through a “donation catalogue”. The use of the donation is quite specific, such as buying a fan for a poor family in Niger for Dh130.

The General Authority of Islamic Affairs & Endowments

The site has an e-donation service accepting debit card, credit card or e-Dirham, an electronic payment tool developed by the Ministry of Finance and First Abu Dhabi Bank.

Al Noor Special Needs Centre

You can donate online or order Smiles n’ Stuff products handcrafted by Al Noor students. The centre publishes a wish list of extras needed, starting at Dh500.

Beit Al Khair Society

Beit Al Khair Society has the motto “From – and to – the UAE,” with donations going towards the neediest in the country. Its website has a list of physical donation sites, but people can also contribute money by SMS, bank transfer and through the hotline 800-22554.

Dar Al Ber Society

Dar Al Ber Society, which has charity projects in 39 countries, accept cash payments, money transfers or SMS donations. Its donation hotline is 800-79.

Dubai Cares

Dubai Cares provides several options for individuals and companies to donate, including online, through banks, at retail outlets, via phone and by purchasing Dubai Cares branded merchandise. It is currently running a campaign called Bookings 2030, which allows people to help change the future of six underprivileged children and young people.

Emirates Airline Foundation

Those who travel on Emirates have undoubtedly seen the little donation envelopes in the seat pockets. But the foundation also accepts donations online and in the form of Skywards Miles. Donated miles are used to sponsor travel for doctors, surgeons, engineers and other professionals volunteering on humanitarian missions around the world.

Emirates Red Crescent

On the Emirates Red Crescent website you can choose between 35 different purposes for your donation, such as providing food for fasters, supporting debtors and contributing to a refugee women fund. It also has a list of bank accounts for each donation type.

Gulf for Good

Gulf for Good raises funds for partner charity projects through challenges, like climbing Kilimanjaro and cycling through Thailand. This year’s projects are in partnership with Street Child Nepal, Larchfield Kids, the Foundation for African Empowerment and SOS Children's Villages. Since 2001, the organisation has raised more than $3.5 million (Dh12.8m) in support of over 50 children’s charities.

Noor Dubai Foundation

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum launched the Noor Dubai Foundation a decade ago with the aim of eliminating all forms of preventable blindness globally. You can donate Dh50 to support mobile eye camps by texting the word “Noor” to 4565 (Etisalat) or 4849 (du).

School counsellors on mental well-being

Schools counsellors in Abu Dhabi have put a number of provisions in place to help support pupils returning to the classroom next week.

Many children will resume in-person lessons for the first time in 10 months and parents previously raised concerns about the long-term effects of distance learning.

Schools leaders and counsellors said extra support will be offered to anyone that needs it. Additionally, heads of years will be on hand to offer advice or coping mechanisms to ease any concerns.

“Anxiety this time round has really spiralled, more so than from the first lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic,” said Priya Mitchell, counsellor at The British School Al Khubairat in Abu Dhabi.

“Some have got used to being at home don’t want to go back, while others are desperate to get back.

“We have seen an increase in depressive symptoms, especially with older pupils, and self-harm is starting younger.

“It is worrying and has taught us how important it is that we prioritise mental well-being.”

Ms Mitchell said she was liaising more with heads of year so they can support and offer advice to pupils if the demand is there.

The school will also carry out mental well-being checks so they can pick up on any behavioural patterns and put interventions in place to help pupils.

At Raha International School, the well-being team has provided parents with assessment surveys to see how they can support students at home to transition back to school.

“They have created a Well-being Resource Bank that parents have access to on information on various domains of mental health for students and families,” a team member said.

“Our pastoral team have been working with students to help ease the transition and reduce anxiety that [pupils] may experience after some have been nearly a year off campus.

"Special secondary tutorial classes have also focused on preparing students for their return; going over new guidelines, expectations and daily schedules.”

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

DUBAI BLING: EPISODE 1

Creator: Netflix

Stars: Kris Fade, Ebraheem Al Samadi, Zeina Khoury

Rating: 2/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: OneOrder
Started: March 2022
Founders: Tamer Amer and Karim Maurice
Based: Cairo
Number of staff: 82
Investment stage: Series A

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed


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