Although one of the smallest countries in Asia by the metrics of both area and population, Qatar’s economy is one of the strongest in the world per capita. Ranking among the top 10 richest countries in the world, their economy has grown consistently over the last few years. More than 70% of government revenue comes from their petroleum and natural gas reserves, with the country being home to the world’s third largest proven natural gas reserve. This helps them to becoming the second-largest exporter of natural gas in the world.
Changes are coming
Although they generate plenty this way, they have not been seen as a business destination like their maritime neighbours the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. However, the World Cup could change that. The world’s most watched sporting event has made its way to the Asian nation and the business opportunities that brings are enormous. World Cup odds currently have Brazil down as favourites to lift the trophy in 2022.
Historically, the sporting culture in Qatar has been close to non-existent. Up until fairly recently, the country’s nomadic past meant that Arabian horse racing, camel racing and falconry were some of their only popular sports. However, contemporary western sports have slowly edged their way into public consciousness especially football (soccer).
This has mainly come through the Qatari government’s dedication to boosting the nation’s footballing prospects upon the 2022 World Cup. Qatar won the right to host the biggest tournament in international football back in 2010 and from the word go have worked to kickstart a footballing identity among the population.
This was achieved through improving the Aspire Academy, a sports academy based in the Aspire Zone in Qatar, founded in 2004 with the goal to scout and help develop Qatari athletes. One of the most recent ways they worked to this end was by hiring Australian Premier League legend Tim Cahill as Chief Sports Officer.
Speaking of his new role in 2021, the Socceroos all-time top scorer said: “I’m excited and honoured to join Aspire, one of the world’s leading sports academies. I’ve been visiting Aspire since my playing days with Everton and the Socceroos and have been constantly impressed by its world-class innovation and competitiveness. I am looking forward to contributing to the success and growth of Aspire as well as developing my skills in sports management as I embark on this exciting new chapter in my career.”
The Qatar national football team have benefited massively from their newfound identity. Previously seen as minnows in most all fixtures and tournaments, The Maroon have quickly become one of Asia’s strongest teams. Led by Felix Sanchez, a coaching product of Barcelona’s legendary La Masia academy, they won the AFC Asian Cup for the first time in their history in 2019. They beat one of the pre-tournament favourites Japan in 3-1 in the final, kickstarting their journey to the 2022 World Cup.
Now with a well-established identity in the biggest sport in the world, Qatar is ready to capitalise on their World Cup hosting privileges to portray themselves as an ideal business destination. One of the best ways to jump on this opportunity is through marketing and official sponsorship deals, of which they now have plenty.
FIFA’s main sponsors are Adidas, Coca-Cola, Hyundai-Kia, QatarEnergy, Qatar Airways and Visa. Namely Adidas and Coca-Cola are some of the biggest, most recognisable brands in the world and their presence in the nation and any success would be huge for future opportunities down the line. The athletics industry especially is one where Qatar do not have a strong foothold and the backing of one of the biggest athletics design companies in the world is an incredible first step for any future business deals.
Travel agencies will of course be one of the most prominent gainers from this tournament. The estimated 1.2 million people who will visit the country for the World Cup will bring in $17 billion to the Qatari economy. The sheer number of travellers will have a knock-on effect for their transport sector as well, most notably the Doha metro network that fans will use to get to and from the games. This influx of tourists could also aide any future tourism opportunities which the country has been severely lacking in.
The restaurant and hotel businesses are also set for a monumental boost as a result of fans flocking to the World Cup. Thousands of rooms were made available for visitors along with luxurious floating hotels. With many restaurants offering a rich, culinary experience customers are sure to be pouring into some of the most extravagant eateries in the continent, having the potential to stamp Qatar as a nation known for its incredible cuisine.
The business marketing and tourism opportunities that will arise for Qatar following this tournament will be integral to the nation’s growth in the coming years. With billions already to be made, this could only be the start for one of the richest economies in the world.