What did Qatar build for the most expensive World Cup ever?

The 2022 FIFA World Cup kicks off on Sunday, with hosts Qatar meeting Ecuador.

In the 12 years since the small, gas-rich country won the rights to host the event, it has spent $300 billion preparing for its launch.

Doha has undergone a transformation as the capital is now dotted with new stadiums and hotels built to accommodate the more than one million fans who will visit the country over the next month.

Held in the Middle East for the first time, the World Cup is the pinnacle of the region’s wider sporting ambitions.

Qatar and its wealthy neighbors have invested billions of dollars in major European soccer clubs, and the region will host four Formula 1 races next year, while Saudi-backed LIV Golf seeks to lead the professional golf tournaments.

Like any event being held for the first time, the Qatar 2022 World Cup has been fraught with controversy from the start, as there have been concerns over Qatar’s record of policies that restrict the rights of women and members of the “LGBTQ community “, and its treatment of migrant workers, even what the Qatari government says about hosting the World Cup. The world being “carbon neutral” is doubtful, adding to the turmoil caused by the shift of the World Cup date away from the traditional daylight savings. time slot, and last minute changes to the schedule.

The 2022 World Cup is reviving a fascinating market for carbon credits

Finally, the tournament is still expected to generate record revenue for FIFA organizers, topping the nearly $5.4 billion that the 2018 World Cup in Russia generated for FIFA. About 3.6 billion people watched the last edition of the World Cup, and billions of viewers are expected to follow this edition.

The quadrennial tournament is coming to the Middle East for the first time in its 92-year history, making it the biggest sporting event ever held in the region. It is also the first global event open to the public since COVID-19 restrictions prevented fans from attending the Summer Olympics in Tokyo and the Winter Games in Beijing.

Unlike previous World Cups, in which stadiums were usually spread across multiple cities, all matches will be played within 31 miles of Doha’s main corner. This means that the population of the capital will increase by more than a million fans – almost a third of the total population of Qatar – during the month-long tournament.

In another departure from tradition, this is the first time FIFA has organized the event in November and December instead of the mid-year months to avoid the hot summer in Qatar.

It caused disruption to European league schedules and sparked fear among players as they worried about injuries and fatigue.

By mid-October, almost 3 million tickets had been sold – almost all available seats.

Fifa said that alongside residents of Qatar, citizens of Saudi Arabia and the UAE were among the biggest buyers. Fans from the United States, Mexico, Britain, France, Argentina, Brazil and Germany are expected to arrive in Doha, while Covid restrictions will prevent Chinese visitors.

The spending included about $45 billion to build Lusail, a megaproject north of central Doha that was still a desert in 2010. According to its developer, around 200,000 people will live there.
The spending included about $45 billion to build Lusail, a megaproject north of central Doha that was still a desert in 2010. According to its developer, around 200,000 people will live there.
Source: Maxar Technologies satellite image, 2022

The new city includes an urban center, an industrial archipelago and the “Lusail” stadium, where the final match of the World Cup will be held.

The new city includes an urban center, an industrial archipelago and the “Lusail” stadium, where the final match of the World Cup will be held.

Qatar’s small size was a challenge for the organizers, who resorted to unconventional solutions for crowd accommodation, including cruise ships, desert camps and furnished apartments. The plan is to provide 130,000 rooms, but many hotels have not been completed in time for the start of the tournament. Apartments in remote neighborhoods raise questions about how much the masses will enjoy the experience.

Qatar has also turned to its neighbors for help. About 100 daily round trips between Doha and other major Middle Eastern cities will allow visitors to stay out of the small Gulf state. Dubai in particular has seen an increase in demand for hotel rooms, which is only 55 minutes from Qatar, and the tourist-popular emirate – which has a more relaxed dress code and party-friendly culture – is expected to benefit the most.

The organizers say the small size of the country is an advantage, not a disadvantage, as the proximity between the stadiums and transport lines will allow the fans to attend several matches in one day. Most of the stadiums will be connected by public transport, including a new metro system, and a fleet of electric buses. While this will help reduce the environmental impact of the tournament, it will not be carbon neutral.

Gas money
Qatar’s vast wealth comes mainly from exporting liquefied natural gas, a super-cooled version of the fuel that Qatar ships to mostly Asian buyers under long-term contracts. Qatar shares with its Persian Gulf neighbor, Iran, one of the world’s largest natural gas fields.

Fossil fuels have made the country one of the richest in the world, measured by per capita output. The number of Qatari nationals is only around 350,000 – no official figures have been provided – and the bulk of the population consists of expatriates, mainly those on work visas. Thanks to high oil prices – which favor most of Qatar’s contracts – the country is enjoying a boom year as it is expected to post a surplus of up to 13% of GDP, according to Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings.

Energy Minister: Qatar aims to become the largest trader of liquefied natural gas in the world

With rising demand for liquefied natural gas, combined with an energy crisis in Europe, the country launched a nearly $50 billion project to expand its capacity by more than 60% before the end of the decade. Capital Economics expects this expansion to increase GDP by 25% by the end of 2027.

A completely new metro system, modern cargo port, expansion of the main airport and the construction of a planned city north of Doha have transformed the country. Authorities say much of the construction work had already been considered, but the World Cup accelerated the schedule.

Critics have accused Qatar of “sports whitewashing” to cover up its abuse of migrant workers, people who identify as “LGBTQ” and other minorities, they say. But while Qatari officials are hopeful the event will establish the country’s global reputation among soccer fans, geopolitical considerations may be more important.

Qatar lies between Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Iran, in a volatile region. Relations in the region are sensitive and often tense. In 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain severed diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Qatar, accusing it of financing terrorists – a charge Qatar denies – and of being too close to Iran.

This move was seen as a threat to Qatar’s sovereignty, and American diplomats played a crucial role in preventing the situation from deteriorating. And only in early 2021 were relations with those countries restored, also with the help of American mediation.

The World Cup offers Qatar an opportunity to showcase itself on the world stage.

According to some analysts, disclosing the country’s name may be essential to deter a similar threat in the future.

Fahad Al-Marri, co-chairman of the Small Countries Research Program at Georgetown University in Qatar, says that despite its small size, organizing such an event gives Qatar international credibility.

Qatari officials hope the infrastructure developed as part of World Cup preparations will help boost the country’s non-energy economy, even if they don’t have a firm plan for what to do with all that fancy new stadiums to do.

While LNG may be a commodity currently in high demand, Europe aims to eventually end its reliance on fossil fuels.

Media portrayal of Qatar as sleek and modern can help attract tourists and businesses. The development of ports and roads can also boost industrialization.

Most economists expect non-energy business activity to slow after the tournament, when apartment buildings and hotels will be empty of World Cup visitors.

Thousands more hotel rooms – some of which were planned for the World Cup but not completed in time – are expected to come on the market in 2023. In addition, there are thousands of residential units.

The Qatari government said it expected low-income workers to leave the country as construction projects came to an end, but it was not clear how many office workers involved in preparations for the soccer tournament had left.

Qatar’s population grew nearly 14% in the year ended October 31 to a record 3 million people.

The country risks feeling empty once fans return home. The government hopes that the end of the World Cup mania will usher in a new dawn that will bring more applicable knowledge and boost the service sector economy.

But the path between a major sporting event and the next phase of economic growth remains unclear.

This makes the post-tournament transition process just as important as preparing for it, if the investment is going to pay off in the end.

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