The large community of expats in Qatar comes together to make the sporting event a memorable experience.
Dressed in a signature mix of black, white, mint and purple shirts, volunteers at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar have one thing in common: they all want to give back to the community they call their own.
The volunteers, which are mostly expats, come from different parts of the world. They have different mother tongues, and varying cultures. But they want to make the world’s biggest event a success.
Aisha Rauf, who was born in Qatar but has roots in Pakistan, believes this is the time to express her love and gratitude for the gulf state by being a part of the effort that has gone into making the tournament possible.
The 32-year-old volunteers for 10 hours a day.
This is besides her full-time job as a Customer Care Executive at Qatar’s telecommunications giant Ooredoo Group, which is also the official Middle East & Africa telecom partner of FIFA World Cup.
“I work in the morning for eight hours before I head to the designated stadium where I am supposed to volunteer,” Rauf tells TRT World.
“I help spectators navigate during the games, working for almost 10 hours and sometimes more.”
By the end of the day, Aisha says she does feel exhausted, but working as a volunteer is a “very rewarding” experience for her.
“I feel like I have played a role in making this tournament possible. The whole experience is very fulfilling,” she adds.
Yasser Khalid, an Indian expat, echoed her sentiments and explained what prompted him to become a volunteer.
Driving an electric buggy car at the 60,000-seat Al Bayt Stadium, which is named and designed after the tents used by nomads, Khalid expresses his love for football.
“Qatar has given me so much. I immediately jumped on the opportunity to volunteer and was grateful that my application got accepted.”
“I usually drive media personnel from one point to another, but my duties change when needed.
“While volunteering I get to support my favourite teams and also get a behind-the-scenes view of how the largest football tournament in the world is made possible,” he adds.
Although the World Cup began on November 20, some volunteers started working from October 1.
Sherwin Olimpo, a Spectators Service Volunteer (SPS), is one of them.
The 48-year-old from the Philippines is a construction consultant based in Qatar for 10 years. He says that it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for him.
“I want to give back to Qatar at a time of their need for service in return for all it has given me for a decade,” he says.
The 20,000 volunteers will be working in 45 functional areas, including stadiums, fan zones, training grounds, hotels and public transportation hubs.
The Gulf state has invested more than $200 billion to build stadiums, hotels and other infrastructure for the world’s most watched tournament.
In the lead-up to the tournament, Doha worked hard in preparing to handle more than a million fans who are expected to attend the month-long tournament, which ends on December 18.
And the contribution of expats in ensuring the tournament moves on smoothly is a big part of that effort.
“This is the first World Cup in an Arab country, we are making history,” Rauf says.
“Now is the time to celebrate all cultures, traditions and, of course, our love for football.”
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