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Mohammed Khalifa Al-Suwaidi

QATAR - Health & Education

If You Build It

CEO, Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF)

Bio

Mohammed Khalifa Al-Suwaidi has been the CEO of Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF) since September 2015. He leads the implementation of AZF’s overall strategic direction, ensuring that its business strategy and objectives are delivered in a professional and proactive manner. He was working as executive director of operations at Qatar Foundation since July 2013. Prior to this, he was Procurement Director for three years. He has 15 years of experience in various aspects of procurement and supply chain management at the Qatar Foundation and RasGas. He holds a bachelor’s in business administration and has attended several technical, management, and leadership trainings. He most recently completed the senior management leadership program in association with Oxford University.

TBY talks to Mohammed Khalifa Al-Suwaidi, CEO of Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF), on the social legacy of the winning the World Cup bid, diversifying the economy by capitalizing on one of the world's fastest-growing sectors, and remaining a global paragon of sporting excellence.

How do you assess your role in positioning Qatar at the forefront of the sporting world?

Qatar’s position as a world sports hub grows stronger by the day. The country is fast emerging as the region’s sporting capital. Following more than a decade of dedicated and focused investment and backing from the country’s visionary leadership and the steady expansion of sports-related industries, our progress in sports development is an enormous source of national pride. AZF, along with its member organizations, is at the heart of these developments as the world’s leading sports destination. Since being established, AZF has adopted a clear approach to contributing to Qatar’s vibrant and growing sports economy, whilst supporting the human and economic pillars of the Qatar National Vision 2030. By 2020, AZF aims to be the worldwide reference in sports excellence. With a world-leading sports academy, logistics business, and renowned orthopedic and sports medicine hospital, we are uniquely placed to catalyze the country’s sports industry. The great historical opening of the fully renovated Khalifa International Stadium that took place on May 19, 2017 is undoubted proof that AZF is leading the sports industry in Qatar.

What are some the most important events AZF has hosted in its managed facilities during 2016?

Aspire Zone is home to some of the finest sporting facilities and services in the world. Aspire Dome is the world’s largest indoor, multi-purpose sports stadium with a seating capacity of 15,500 spread across 13 sports halls. Both here and in our other facilities and sites, including the 4,500-seat Hamad Aquatic Centre and the 88-ha Aspire Park, we host a multitude of sporting and cultural events each year. In 2016, we delivered and hosted more than 160 events. These included everything from community events to major medical conferences such as the Challenges in Football Injuries hosted by Aspetar in partnership with the FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence and ISAKOS and the 2016 ASPIRE4SPORT and Global Summit on Football Performance and Science.

How is AZF focusing on its R&D activities, and how could this impact Qatar’s economic development?

AZF’s Centre of Excellence for natural sports turf research and development is working in close partnership with the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy to develop the turf that will cover the pitches at the World Cup in five years’ time. Together we recently did the turf for the Khalifa International Stadium in world record time, covering 7,800sqm of turf in 13 hours and 30 minutes. Not only will our involvement in supporting the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar create an incredible sporting legacy for the country, the region, and all of Asia, but by playing our part in building stadiums like Khalifa International, we are contributing to the tournament’s lasting social legacy. Khalifa International Stadium’s state-of-the-art technology, such as the innovative cooling technology and regional-first stadium LED lighting, will also mean that sports can be played at the venue all year round, day or night. We are playing a key role in the development and diversification of the country’s economy.

What could be AZF’s contribution to the development of projects for sports-related industries?

In 2016, AZF signed an MoU with the Ministry of Economy and Commerce for the provision of support services to sports projects and businesses. Part of this objective is the creation of a platform for businesses to participate in the growing industry. We believe the contribution of AZF will be vital in achieving these through different global partnerships and joint ventures. The sports industry is still young, and there is a lot to be done in this promising and fast-growing field. Accordingly, we have a big plan for the coming years as AZF almost doubles its current space.

What is your outlook for the year ahead?

We have an incredibly exciting few years ahead of us, with much to do. We have the right strategy and plan and an incredible range of skills, expertise, and capabilities on which to draw.

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