Qatar has invested a huge amount of money on Lusail Boulevard in Doha, where the goal is to convert the desert into a commercial hub inspired by Champs-Elysee. The construction workers are racing against time to finish the structure before the World Cup kicks off.
As of now, there is even only one convenience store in the area and Singapore fans who are used to seeing one in every street corner would find it extremely strange.
High anticipation over the event
Along with a sports arena, four buildings, and an apartment designed to accommodate at least 200,000 people in the city, it is expected that there will be a surge of people visiting the city of Lusail. In fact, Younes, the manager of the store, is very anxious as the launching date of the event grows closer and closer. He expects that during that period, a rush of transactions will occur.
Qatar, which is a nation known for its rich oil reserves, is eager to copy the sudden economic transformation of fellow Gulf nations, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. As a result, ever since they won the bidding for the World Cup qualifiers eleven years ago, they have spent a whopping amount of money on public facilities alone.
Economic ambitions of Qatar
According to a government official, much of the effort in the projects was planned carefully, as Qatar seeks to expand its economic side that is not related to the oil and energy industry. The Gulf nation has a long-term goal to be the new business hub in the Middle East and to multiply the number of its visitors to 6 million annually by 2030.
However, several economic analysts and professors have qualms over the ambitions of Qatar. They don’t believe that the nation’s huge revenue from the gas industry that was spent on the World Cup will return once the 28-day event is finished.
Younes, the convenience store manager, also has the same doubts over the highly ambitious spending of the country on sporting events. Not even Singapore fans would realistically spend that much on things other than the ticket or accommodation.
“What will happen once the FIFA World Cup 2022 ends? Will the economy rise or fall? Honestly, we don’t know,” he stated.
Doubts over the World Cup
Qatar is in tight competition with rivals United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, which provides a much more expanded and stable market along with a greater variation for visitors.
South Africa had spent US$3.3 billion on public facilities in preparation for the 2010 World Cup. Meanwhile, Brazil had spent a huge cost on public facilities to host the 2014 edition of the sporting event.
After the World Cup, both of these nations repurposed these infrastructures in various ways such as creating a community hub. It was reported that Qatar used 18% of its GDP for the preparations for the sporting event.
Qatar, which is not a footballing nation and has no history of football unlike Singapore, had no existing sports stadiums. As a result, they have spent building new and ambitious structures to fulfill the requirements of hosting a FIFA World Cup event.
Some people fear that after the event, most of these infrastructures will go to waste and there will be a huge downshift in the non-energy economy of Qatar.
A little hope amidst doubts
Doha looks at the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East region as an opening of the floodgates to the possible surge of future tourists and investors to Qatar.
In fact, South Africa did have a boost in tourist numbers of 10.2 million in 2019 ever since they hosted the World Cup eleven years ago. This time around, even more supporters from Singapore are expected to also attend the Qatar World Cup.
Qatar not only invests in building sports-related structures in preparations for the event but also spends millions on hotels, shopping malls, theme parks, and luxury resorts.
The ambitious spending of Qatar for the World Cup 2022 could be seen as ridiculous at first. However, we will only know the outcome of these projects after the World Cup 2022 livestream ends.