Qatar has announced its plans to grow the sports sector to a $20 billion industry by 2022, the year of FIFA World Cup, in a bid to develop newer markets and opportunities to tackle growing geopolitical tensions. The announcement comes by a state official on Sunday.
The Middle Eastern country wants to attract sports companies from across the globe to achieve its goals before the World Cup. While addressing the media, Yousuf al Jaida, CEO of Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), said that he expects the target to be achieved within three years, however, did not disclose any strategy or names of sports companies QFC is looking forward to. Jaida further added that QFC, which licenses foreign companies exempting them from local ownership laws, aims to license over 150 foreign sports companies by 2022. 25 of these 150 will be licensed this year itself. QFC has majorly been licensing foreign finance companies.
The FIFA established a joint venture in Qatar to help manage the torment, earlier this month. Later this year, Qatar will be hosting the World Championships in Athletics, a biennial event which is organized by the International Association of Athletics Federations. This push to pull multinationals engaged in sports-related business, and facilitate the commercialization of sports-related services in the country is part of a larger plan to become a sporting events hub in the middle east, in due course of hosting the 2022 world cup. Jaida also said that a lot of value chain has been moving to Qatar and will continue to do so until the World Cup.
He further added that the country is looking at sports service company legal forms, education, and training, sportswear, and equipment, a detailed cluster of sports sectors catering to 2022. The QFC also reportedly aims to attract companies from other sectors such as Islamic Finance, Fintech, and media as part of its plan to host over a 1000 companies, up from about the present 600 by the time the country begins the World Cup proceedings.
Qatar has been facing political and economic sanctions since December 2017. The diplomatic and trade boycott on Qatar was launched by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism, which the country has been denying ever since. However Jaida due to the geopolitical situation becoming adverse in the Gulf, the Qatar government has had some interesting government to government building with its neighboring countries. This could be the target markets for companies willing to take up regional activities out of QFC. Qatar is desperately looking forward to attracting foreign investment and reduce the economy’s dependence on petroleum and related products.
The country has also been claiming to have positioned itself to serve as an alternative hub to Dubai for regional markets like Kuwait, Oman, Turkey, and Pakistan. The country has grown stronger relations with these nations ever since the Gulf rift begun. Qatar’s exact investments in the FIFA World Cup are not declared. However, certain estimates have shown that mega event will cost to Qatar a ground-shattering £138 billion ($220 billion).