Economics of Qatar:
Qatar the host of FIFA World Cup 2022 has set a new trend in sports history and diplomacy by inaugurating the playing stadiums with recitation of Holy Quran ” Surah-Ar-Rahman which has already spread a holy feeling and cultural unity among different faiths. Another “heart-winning” moment is that a Palestinian origin man has been nominated as its World-cup Ambassador. Alcohol has been banned and strictly advised to properly dress-up all vividly reflects Qatar’s rich traditions, culture and staunch belief in eco-friendly environment.
Despite all sponsored controversies Qatar has succeeded to make use of the World Cup to showcase its incredible expansion from a forgotten desert in the GCC to a sprawling metropolitan and a prominent transit hub. It vividly reflects its rapid expansion from a small pearl-diving enclave to Gulf metropolis and expects it to add as much as $20 billion to its economy in short, medium and long terms directly or indirectly.
It has great significance in terms of economy, politics, social harmony, business activities (hotel, aviation, advertising, digital marketing, investments, retail, consumption, construction, real estate) not only for the host country Qatar but also has spillover socio-economic and political trans-regional benefits for all the GCC countries mainly, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Jordan, Bahrain, and even Iran.
Pakistan benefits from FIFA World Cup:
Pakistan has also received substantial gains from the Qatar FIFA World Cup 2022 by deploying the security contingents. Pakistani huge human capital along with skilled and unskilled labor forces has been in Qatar which has further increased worker remittances in the country. Moreover, Pakistani manufactured footballs will be used during the FIFA World Cup 2022 which is indeed a pride moment for Pakistan and its entrepreneurs.
Qatar has already made history by bringing the World Cup to the Middle East for the first time. It is again national pride for all Middle East countries and Muslims living around the globe that being the smallest host country ever organizes the biggest sports event on planet.
Qatar has built eight air-cooled, zero-carbon venues designed by world-renowned architects. It has also built fan zones, training sites and other outdoor areas for tourists from scratch. Moreover, the government of Qatar has complete plan of using these eight stadiums for the development of local sports, immense community development, modern health facilities, educational compatibilities and event management after the World Cup 2022 which is commendable.
Qatar has rich history and diversified expertise of holding sports events in its country. In the past it has hosted other sports events like the IAAF World Athletics Championships, the Asian Football Confederation Cup and the World Men’s Handball Championship, and will be holding the Asian Games in 2030, the FIFA World Cup is the largest high-profile event to take place in Qatar.
Qatar has become an ideal place for lavish hospitality and colorful tourism and now it is welcoming millions of fans and teams from around the world and giving a boost to businesses and investors across the region. Hopefully, it will further advance the country’s infrastructure and foreign policy goals. The seminal event promises to provide short and long-term economic benefits and the potential for soft-power gains.
Frankly speaking FIFA World Cup is the strategic extension of its National Vision 2030. It is indeed a giant step towards further diversification of economy. It is a grand policy initiative of the government of Qatar to transform its economy, politics, society, administration, business and last but not least investment’s potential. It is a first step towards joining the global society through marvelous infrastructure development, modern communication channels, IT, ICT and AI connectivity.
According to different estimations, more than 1.5 million visitors will visit Qatar during the month-long event. In addition to building state-of-the-art stadiums, Qatar has introduced a modern metro system, expanded its airport, and constructed new districts within the capital city, Doha.
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It seems that the long-term benefit of World Cup infrastructure is Qatar’s integration of national policies, initiatives, and projects under one flagship orientation.
Qatar has also set to make history, as this will be the first World Cup in the northern hemisphere that will not be held during summer. The tournament is instead scheduled for late November until mid-December. The final will be held on 18 December 2022, which is also Qatar’s National Day. The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) is the main body responsible for the oversight and delivery of the global tournament.
The event represents the coronation of Qatar’s longstanding football strategy. In the past two decades, Doha has invested considerably in international sports, which have become a soft power tool per se at the country’s disposal, and more generally, also as a source of national pride for the wealthy states of the Gulf.
For Qatar, hosting the World Cup is a triumph of sports, diplomacy, and constructive dialogue and development policies after its isolation by the other GCC states during the embargo of 2017 and 2021. It is also a clear projection of its soft power with the substantial clout of its position as one of the world’s top three exporters of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).
Economic Impact of FIFA:
The economic impact of FIFA 2022 is not restricted to Qatar. The event is likely benefit Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, and Bahrain. The occupancy rate of hotels in Kuwait will increase by 24 percent and Bahrain by 9 percent.
In particular, the hotels in Saudi Arabia and Dubai are already overbooked. Fly Dubai and Emirates are expected to operate 48 flights per day to Qatar. The tournament will significantly benefit the regional economy.
In this regard, the latest published report of the S&P Global (2022) clearly indicates that the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar is set to give a further boost to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) economies. According to its report titled “World Cup Will Give an Additional Near Term Boost to GCC”, Dubai will be one of the major beneficiaries outside of Qatar, given its geographical proximity, a well-established tourism offering, flight connections and multiple-entry tourist visas for World Cup ticket holders. Meanwhile, Air Arabia will be operating 14 shuttle flights daily from Sharjah to Doha.
Travel and aviation sectors will not be the only sectors benefiting from the tournament. The retail sector stands to gain, too.
Despite western propaganda the government of Qatar investments in infrastructural development has made the country resilient. Qatar successfully survived the challenges of the blockade and COVID-19. Significantly, the real estate sector has shown tremendous progress in recent years.
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The real estate industry’s growth supported the insurance sector’s development. Risk management services increased sharply and supported the industry.
Benefits to Airlines:
The airlines will also benefit from the event. According to the estimates of FIFA, around 150,000 passengers will be travelling per day during the event. These numbers are expected to increase abnormally during the knockout round. The number of passengers will be the highest around the final match.
Qatar also experienced an increase in foreign investment, which will likely increase in the coming years. Many brands and companies invested in Qatar to serve the large customer base during the tournament. The higher investment in businesses is creating more employment opportunities. The tournament is expected to add 1.5 million jobs to Qatar’s economy.
Government of Qatar’s investment:
The government of Qatar invested more than $200 billion to develop modern infrastructure. Sustainable public transport systems, smart cities, and energy projects resulted in a sustainable economy. The modern developed infrastructure of Qatar is expected to enhance the multiplying effect on GDP. The GDP is expected to increase at a higher rate post-tournament period. FIFA 2022 improved the economic diversification of Qatar.
The projects initiated by the government of Qatar to host FIFA 2022 have a long-term impact on Qatar’s economy. For instance, the Doha Metro project reduces the road traffic burden. The milestone project offers a sustainable public transportation system to the general public. Moreover, the project will significantly reduce carbon emissions to preserve the environment. It will also decrease the dependence on fuel consumed by vehicles. The project will also contribute to the revenue of the government.
The investment in the infrastructure is speeding up the economic diversification of Qatar. The finance, real estate, tourism, hospitality, health, and transportation sector of Qatar are expected to experience a boom due to FIFA World Cup 2022. The tournament’s impact on Qatar’s economy will affect economic growth in the coming years. Through effective policies, the government can sustain Qatar’s economic growth even after the tournament in the future. FIFA 2022 will significantly reduce the dependence of Qatar on the hydrocarbon industry.
It seems that Qatar government has rightly focused to shift from infrastructure development to tourism and service sector. Its investments in infrastructural development have further strengthened its National Vision 2030. It has further enhanced the chances of further economic diversification.
Hopefully, it will further accelerate its economy, real estate, hotel industry, tourism, community development, service sector, banking & financial sector and insurance industry. It may further boost its Islamic banking potential in the days to come.
Successful holding and splendid start of FIFA World Cup 2022 has already lift the national spirits of Qatar and its people which is indeed a pride for all the GCC, MENA, Middle East and all the Muslim countries living around the globe.
This Article is written by Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan
Executive Director: The Center for South Asia & International Studies (CSAIS), Islamabad
Regional Expert: Qatar & GCC