Khalifa International Stadium will be one of the 12 venues hosting the World Cup in 2022 in Qatar

Khalifa International Stadium will be one of the 12 venues hosting the World Cup in 2022 in Qatar

Qatar's successful bid to host the 2022 football World Cup is a testimony to the country's global ambitions. Development projects are already under way to fulfil stadia, hotel capacity and infrastructure requirements, giving a further boost to the country's already burgeoning economy.

When, in December last year, Qatar was successful in its bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, young Qataris streamed noisily onto the Doha Corniche to celebrate, waving maroon and white national flags. Not only had a country which had never qualified for the tournament become host, but the Middle East, long seeing itself as an outcast in the international footballing stakes, felt it had gained recognition. The Arab world’s zest for 'the beautiful game' had at long last been acknowledged.

Bankers do not expect Qatar to sit on its laurels for long. Much work needs to be done and milestones completed if the country is to meet its target of putting tournament infrastructure in place over the next seven years. This will allow four years for hosting trial events, and fine-tuning the elaborate feats of engineering that will be required. Creating stadiums with the air-conditioning capacity alone to counter average summer temperatures of 40 degrees centigrade will be a daunting task.

Head start

Most of Qatar’s infrastructure projects were already planned or under way before its World Cup bid was launched last year. Qatari Diar, the real estate arm of the Qatar Investment Authority, signed a memorandum of understanding with Deutsche Bahn to develop a $25bn nationwide railway in late 2008. Those projects relating to hosting the World Cup itself are likely to total about $78bn, according to local analysts.

"Winning the 2022 World Cup bid crystallised several key projects for Qatar," says International Bank of Qatar managing director George Nasra. "The rail and metro were progressing slowly, but now the $25bn to $26bn project is moving forward on all fronts.”

By 2022, it is expected some $20bn will have been spent on roads, and the bulk of the $35bn budget for a national railway and Doha’s metro. Additional projects, including the New Doha Port at Al Wakra, with phase one capacity of 2 million twenty-foot equivalent units ready in 2014, should be complete, while the New Doha International Airport is to begin operations in 2012-13. A road and rail causeway to Bahrain is expected to take longer, with completion unlikely until 2027.

Stadia challenge

Of the 12 stadiums required for the 64-game tournament, nine will have to be built from scratch, while the three existing structures will need extensive upgrades. These are expected to cost $3bn. The average stadium size will house about 45,000 spectators, with the biggest, the yet-to-be-built Lusail Iconic Stadium, having a capacity of 85,000. FIFA's requirement for between 80,000 and 90,000 hotel rooms is a pressing priority, as the country's current capacity is about 15,000. Construction work on new hotels is expected to start soon.

The 2006 Asian Games in Doha served as a statement of Qatar’s intent to host major sporting events, and the AFC Asian Cup football tournament in January was another example. With these events taking place in the cooler months of Qatar's winter, the country needs to prove that it can build facilities that can operate in the summer. A feature of the bid known to have impressed the FIFA committee is that modular sections of the stadiums will be dismantled and taken to other countries on completion of the tournament.

Banking officials exude a general bonhomie when contemplating the boost to the economy that the World Cup will give Qatar. But they are wary that the continued breakneck speed of development could pose problems. “The pace of [Qatar’s] development has been extremely rapid, and that rapidity potentially brings pitfalls,” says Rod Ringrow, a senior executive officer at State Street Middle East North Africa. “So far it seems to have been well managed and well thought out.”


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