Authorities in Qatar are preparing to host thousands of Jews and Israelis during the 2022 FIFA World Cup competition. Arrangements need to be made to supply kosher food and places of prayer for soccer fans traveling to the Gulf state.
Hassan al-Thawadi, Secretary-General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (the organization responsible for coordinating among public and private entities to ensure that infrastructure and development projects are delivered in readiness for the 2022 FIFA World Cup), met with US Rabbi Marc Schneier, considered the unofficial Jewish chaplain of the Persian Gulf states, and asked him to serve as an adviser with regards to matters relating to hosting Jewish sports fans who will attend the matches.
"This is an exceptional development that attests to the sensitivity that the Qataris show toward Israelis and the Jewish world," said Rabbi Schneier. He said the Qataris sought his advice with concern for the needs of Jewish fans in everything related to kosher food. "I responded to the request with joy. The fact that our conversation took place on this subject is already amazing," Schneier said.
Whether the Qataris will set up a synagogue for Jewish fans to pray inside Schneier said: "No comment. They have left me to advise them on how to host the Jewish fans. We have begun discussing the details. Al-Thawadi told the New York Times in an interview with that Israelis will be very welcome during the Mondial games in Qatar."
Rabbi Schneier is a well-known American rabbi who founded the Foundation for Jewish-Muslim Interfaith Understanding. For the last 15 years he has been a frequent guest in the palaces of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Schneier was previously described by Newsweek Magazine as one of the 50 most influential rabbis in the US; he serves as the rabbi of the Hampton Synagogue in New York.
The rabbi was recently appointed adviser to the king of Bahrain to develop an interfaith institution in Bahrain and to help preserve Jewish life in Bahrain. Schneier said that some of the Gulf states are willing to develop Jewish life. For example, it was recently reported that there exists a community of 150 Jews in Dubai, and that the emirate authorities were planning to officially recognize the Jews.