Breaking new ground: The impact and legacy of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
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Breaking new ground: The impact and legacy of the FIFA World Cup

Breaking new ground: The impact and legacy of the FIFA World Cup

The tournament is set to begin on November 20, placing host country Qatar under bright lights


Teams? Ready
Fans? Ready
Qatar? Ready

In securing the rights to host the 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup, Qatar became the first Arab nation to win the privilege back in 2010. It did so by beating bids from heavyweights such as the US, Japan, Australia and South Korea.

On winning the rights, Qatar swung into action.

More than a decade later, the country is set to welcome football enthusiasts from around the world, as it gears up to host one of the greatest sporting events later this month.

This year’s tournament, which will run from November 20 until December 18, is one of several firsts. It is the first World Cup to be hosted in the Middle East and to be played outside the summer months of May, June or July. It is the first time in World Cup history that female match officials – three referees and three assistant referees – have been appointed.

The tournament will also host the first fully-demountable venue in its history, and with all stadiums within a 50-kilometre radius of central Doha, this year’s event will have the most geographically compact footprint ever.

From an economic standpoint, the tournament has been a growth enabler and is expected to be a driver of sustained development and global interest going forward.

“The World Cup is not only an auspicious strategic instrument as a stand-alone occasion, but it is also a vehicle for achieving a thriving economic landscape beyond 2022, and an integral part of the bigger picture set forth by the ‘Qatar National Vision (QNV) 2030’,” a PwC report reads.

“From the time they won the World Cup bid in 2010, Qatar did see a gradual move towards diversifying its domestic economy, as evidenced by the reduction in its oil and gas contribution to GDP from 53 per cent in 2010 to 39 per cent in 2020,” explains Rituparna Majumder, industry principal, economic analytics practice, Frost & Sullivan.

“Further, over the years, notable progress has been made in other sectors such as construction, wholesale and retail trade, finance, human health and social work. The share of the construction sector, increased from 6 per cent in 2010 to a whopping 14.4 per cent in 2020, thanks to the World Cup-related infrastructure developments.”

Promising gains
Integrating the tournament into its development and diversification plans, Qatar has approached the World Cup as an opportunity of economic transformation and modernisation, as well as a medium to showcase its culture and hospitality on a global scale.

Besides helping to propel Qatar to global prominence, the tournament is expected to yield significant financial returns.

“As per the FIFA’s annual report 2020, the total FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 revenue budget amounts to $4.66bn. FIFA also lays out five core revenue categories, with television broadcasting rights being the largest contributing category at 56 per cent, followed by marketing rights at 29 per cent. The remaining 15 per cent of the revenue share is of hospitality rights and ticket sales, licensing rights, and other revenues.

Noteworthy, the previous two World Cups, 2014 and 2018, generated $4.82bn and $4.64bn in revenues respectively,” adds Majumder.

According to Redseer Strategy Consultants, the event will generate $4bn in revenue through tourist spend, of which $500m will be realised by neighbouring countries. Meanwhile, online viewership is expected to reach five billion during the World Cup, a growth of over 43 per cent than the viewership witnessed during the FIFA World Cup held in Russia.

The financial gains, though, are an expected corollary after the mammoth investments made by the country to host the event.

“After winning the bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup in 2010, Qatar announced a $200bn infrastructure programme. The direct expenses to build eight stadiums have been reported to be between $6.5 and $10bn, in line with the spending of previous hosting countries,” the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stated in the Staff Report for the 2022 Article IV Consultation with Qatar.

“Most of the announced investment was for general infrastructure projects, including to build an integrated railway and metro system, develop roads and utilities network, expand the airport, and build a brand new Lusail city where foreigners can buy properties,” the IMF added.

Enduring impact 
Besides financial returns, Qatar aims to leverage the tournament for sustained economic change, with key sectors including tourism and hospitality placed at the heart of its growth plans.

According to research revealed by property consultancy firm Knight Frank, the country could witness its hospitality market grow by 89 per cent to over 56,000 hotel keys by 2025. Delivery of the planned hotel room supply is forecasted to cost approximately $7bn.

“Officially, around 30,000 keys had been delivered by the end of 2021, and we estimate that another 3,800 keys will have been delivered by the time the World Cup commences,” says Adam Stewart, partner – head of Qatar, Knight Frank. “Looking beyond the World Cup, however, reveals some incredible ambitions. The tourism and hospitality sector is expected to contribute 12 per cent of GDP by 2030, making it worth about $55bn, by which time tourist arrivals are forecast to be closing in on seven million.”

“The local hospitality space has evolved in terms of the increase in the number of keys and rooms available but also in the range of brands entering the market. This is establishing a solid base for building a destination of wide appeal with comprehensive choice of accommodation type and budget, which will be necessary if Qatar is to achieve its ambition of receiving six million visitors a year by 2030,” notes Christian Hirt, managing director of Raffles and Fairmont, Doha.

“Qatar’s hospitality sector is on an upward trajectory with official figures from the Planning and Statistics Authority showing a year-on-year gain in room yield amidst a 500 per cent surge in visitor arrivals to June 2022. This bodes well for hospitality owners and operators in the country and all stakeholders in the wider destination as does Qatar’s major events calendar. We are looking forward to the many business, consumer and major sporting events planned for the country next year,” he adds.

Other key sectors stand to gain too. “The banking sector of Qatar, which played a pivotal role in financing various tournament-linked projects, including launching several promotional offers, issuance of special credit and debit cards, stands to benefit from higher credit demand and overall stronger spending activity during the tournament. The retail sector comes as a no-brainer, with the sector expecting to receive a spike in event-led merchandise purchases of jerseys, food and beverages, and consumer electronics,” says Majumder.

Thinking ahead
Besides bolstering Qatar’s global presence, underpinning its diversification agenda and spurring key sectors, the World Cup is expected to leave a sustainable legacy, backed by a strong intent to deliver a carbon neutral tournament.

According to the FIFA World Cup 2022 Greenhouse Gas Accounting Report, total greenhouse gas emissions from the preparation, FIFA World Cup and post tournament phases, between April 2011 and June 2023, are estimated to be 3.631 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

However, organisers of the event aim to offset all tournament-related greenhouse gas emissions, while furthering low-carbon solutions in the country. Several key initiatives, including renewable energy solutions, reduced water consumption at operational stadiums and sustainable landscaping have been undertaken.

Meanwhile, the tournament is also expected to leave a lasting imprint on Qatar’s socioeconomic landscape. Stadium 974, that will host seven tournament matches, can be fully dismantled and re-purposed, while three stadium precincts – Al Janoub, Al Bayt and Ahmad Bin Ali – have already become community hubs.

“Our goal was to build venues that local communities would use. Before we broke ground, we consulted communities to ensure their needs were implemented at the design phase,” said Engineer Ghanim Al Kuwari, deputy director general, technical services, Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy.

Furthermore, after the conclusion of the tournament, some of Qatar’s stadiums and their surrounding areas will be redeveloped to offer additional community facilities, including real estate, health centres and commercial outlets.

Strong legacy
The FIFA World Cup will conclude on December 18, coinciding with Qatar National Day, a fitting and rather symbolic end to what is expected to be a memorable tournament.

While fans across the world await the tournament with excitement of watching their favourite teams battle it out, for Qatar, the World Cup is much more than just a sporting event, reflected in the words of Hassan Al Thawadi, secretary general of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy: “For us, this tournament has always represented far more than a month of football. We committed to ensuring that this World Cup leaves a truly transformational social, human, economic and environmental legacy, and is remembered as a landmark moment in the history of our region.”

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