“There was no road, there were no houses, there was only sand,” says Badr Bilal, pointing out to the sea of lights. Traffic moves past on a multi-lane roadway. In the background stretches the “Aspire Zone”, also known as the “Sport City” of Doha. There the Torch Tower soars skyward, one of the futuristic skyscrapers that symbolize the dizzying wealth of Bilal’s homeland of Qatar. Next to it is the Al Khalifa Stadium, where the German national team will play their first group game against Japan next Wednesday (2:00 p.m. CET in the FAZ live ticker for the World Cup, on ARD and on Magenta TV).
When Badr Bilal played football in his native colors, he never dreamed that Qatar would one day host a World Cup. At that time, oil had already been found under the desert sand. However, it was to be many years before natural gas exports unleashed unprecedented economic growth that completely changed the face of the Gulf emirate.