By Peter Alagos/ Business Reporter
Qatar’s journey towards hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup would help turn Doha into “a 7-star city,” an expert said during a panel discussion at the Euromoney Qatar Conference yesterday.
Citing major infrastructure projects undertaken by the government, Alexis Antoniades, director, chair of International Economics, Georgetown University – Qatar, said the World Cup is an opportunity to place the country under the international spotlight, as well as to present the Middle East as a destination.
“The 2022 FIFA World Cup is only a month-long event but it is the process towards the games that may have an impact on Qatar’s economy…the Middle East is not as what many people expect in their minds. “But bringing attention to improving policies, that is structural change that is needed for turning Qatar into an advanced economy; also, trying to focus on how we can link sports with entrepreneurship and innovation…we should think about solutions not for Qatar but how we can export this innovation outside Qatar, so I think that is the legacy of the World Cup,” he said.
According to Rainmaking managing director Koen Bosma, the hosting of the World Cup will have a transformational effect on how people view Qatar not only as a hydrocarbon economy but as a state that is recognised for its sportsmanship and its sport culture. “This is a perfect example of transitioning from an old economy, which is leveraging natural resources, into a new economy known for its tourism, technology, and entrepreneurship…I think the way to go forward is to keep on investing on technology,” Bosma pointed out. Kathrin Lemke, representative and director at the German Industry and Commerce Office Qatar (AHK), stressed that the preparations for the hosting of the World Cup in Qatar has placed a lot of focus on policy reforms as well.
“It is not only a positive decision to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022, but it did have a positive effect in terms of building infrastructure but also with policies and regulations regarding the labour law, among others. It is a complete package,” Lemke said. Khaled Salhab, assistant general manager, Domestic Corporate, Qatar National Bank (QNB), added: “The World Cup is not a means to an end – it is a step towards bigger and greater things.
We did not build the airport and other infrastructure not only for the World Cup but it is a major milestone for Qatar, and it places the country on top of the tourism map.”
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