World leaders descend on Qatar for World Cup 2022 kickoff

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Palestine’s Mahmoud Abbas are among those arriving in Doha.

The World Cup kicks off in Qatar on Sunday [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

World leaders, politicians, diplomats and royalty have begun to arrive in Qatar before the World Cup kicks off on Sunday.

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres arrived in Doha on Saturday, followed by Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who was spotted at Hamad International Airport on Sunday, Qatar News Agency reported.

Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also touched down in the host nation late on Saturday before Sunday evening’s opening match between Qatar and Ecuador.

Prince Mohammed’s arrival in Qatar comes after Saudi Arabia and Doha resumed diplomatic ties in January 2021 following years of frosty relations.

Saudi Arabia, playing in Group C, will take on Argentina on November 22.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will also attend the opening ceremony, Egyptian state TV quoted the presidency as saying on Sunday.

Those not attending in person have sent messages of support.

On Friday, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Qatar’s emir, received a call from Russian President Vladimir Putin. He called the emir’s office to congratulate the host country and wish the Qatari national team success in their coming games.

The official opening ceremony is slated to kick off at Al Bayt Stadium at 5pm (14:00 GMT) on Sunday before the inaugural Qatar-Ecuador match at 7pm (16:00 GMT).

The emir’s office said the opening event will be attended by “a number of Their Majesties, Highnesses, and Excellencies Heads of States and Heads of Delegations of brotherly and friendly countries”.

Qatar, competing in Group A in their debut World Cup appearance, will face Senegal on November 25 and the Netherlands on November 29.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies