The 2011 AFC Asian Cup started last night. Qatar lost 0-2 against Uzbekistan, but as a nation they are ready to host though the country is one big construction site and it will get even more over the next decade. The capital Doha is decorated in the tournament colours, draped in flags of participation nations, while at night there are fabulous lighting displays across town highlighting the tournament.
One can feel that the importance of the tournament for the Qataris has grown since being awarded the 2022 FIFA World Cup with the signage of the bidding campaign still visible across the city.
And with now bigger international media attention on the tiny Gulf state, the organisers are doing whatever they can to please their foreign guests. And those guests be it from the football industry or the media are liking what they are seeing.
Italian Nicola Antognetti, who works in the football business and travels for that around the world, told us about his experiences in Doha over the last decade, "It's not changing as much as you would think – not as much as Dubai – but I think they are just taking things a bit more slowly, with more strategy behind. It's a great place."
While Australian journalist Scott Macintyre is back in Doha after 18 months and is seeing massive changes, "The landscape and the skyline are changing almost constantly and I'm sure there will be more positive signs in the build-up to 2022."
First time visitors like myself are often saying they expected Qatar to be more advanced, but it isn't a copy of Dubai which I feel is good. The city has its own charms and has character, which I feel is very important.
The beautiful Khalifa Stadium hosted a great opening ceremony and more then 37,000 spectators turned up but after conceding the first goal the people started going home.