World Cup 2022: Insteresting Facts We Can Learn About Host Country Qatar

Qatar is a small monarchy of 2.7 million people – of whom about 300,000 are Qatari citizens and the rest expatriates – on the Persian Gulf that shares its only land border with Saudi Arabia. Here are some interesting facts about this host country of World Cup 2022.
November 22, 2022 | 08:03

The entire country is about ten times the size of New York City, and all the games will be held in a tight circle of eight stadiums near the capital, Doha.

The British-educated sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani took over from his father nearly a decade ago and maintains control over nearly all aspects of government. Once one of the poorest Gulf states, Qatar has risen to become one of the wealthiest countries in the world per capita on the back of oil and gas.

Qatar is the wealthiest country in the Arab World

Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty

Qatar has been named the fourth richest country globally. Also, it is the first-ever Arab nation to be among the top four wealthiest nations. The latest report from Global Finance ranks other Arab countries, like the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Oman, positioned after Qatar.

The study also coincides with the World Bank’s assessment that sees Qatar as the fastest growing global economy.

According to the data, Qatar’s real GDP is expected to rise by 4.9% this year and grow steadily at 4.5% and 4.4% in 2023 and 2024, respectively. This data also tells us that Qatar’s economic growth is expected to remain the fastest among the other GCC countries.

Qatar is fourth after countries like Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Singapore and has a distinct advantage over the three countries that are ranked higher. Unlike these countries that are very small and benefit mainly from foreign investment, Qatar has massive reserves of hydrocarbons or other natural resources.

A relatively smaller population of just 2.8 million also favors Qatar’s numbers. According to the report, the per-capita GDP of a Qatari citizen is also high at $97,846, dipping slightly in 2014 from $143,222. This contrasts with some of the poorest countries’ average per capita purchasing power, which stands at just $1,350.

Qatar has also benefited from the increase in the demand for gas owing to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine War. Additionally, the expansion of Qatar’s North Field liquified natural gas (LNG) project, which is the biggest of its kind, is also a significant contributor to the country’s GDP.

What is its role geopolitically?

Former FIFA President Joseph S Blatter names Qatar as the winning hosts of 2022 back in 2010 (Image: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Former FIFA President Joseph S Blatter names Qatar as the winning hosts of 2022 back in 2010 (Image: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Qatar has an “open-door” foreign policy in which it speaks to all political groups, which is why the country has acted as a mediator, for example, between the Taliban and the US. But Qatar’s support for Islamist groups, such as affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas in Gaza, has caused serious friction with its neighbours.

In June 2017, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties with Qatar. Saudi Arabia’s role, in particular, meant Qatar was effectively cut off from the rest of the world. The blockade was lifted last year.

What is Qatar famous for?

Photo: Dezeen
Photo: Dezeen

The small state has an outsized influence across the region and globally due to its 2006 launch of the influential pan-Arab and international TV broadcaster Al Jazeera.

While it is part-owned by the state – and avoids criticism of the Qatari monarchy – Al Jazeera has maintained a level of independence in its reporting, making it a vital source of breaking news across the Middle East, particularly during the Arab spring uprisings that erupted in 2011.

Dictators across the region detest Al Jazeera, which has closely reported on pro-democracy movements and Islamist uprisings. They accuse Qatar of using the channel to foment strife.

Why was Qatar chosen to host the World Cup?

Photo: Hotels
Photo: Hotels

The FIFA World Cup is heading into uncharted and controversial territory as Qatar hosts this year's tournament.

With the tournament being played in winter for the first time, many will be left wondering why exactly Qatar was chosen to host the World Cup - particularly with the country's human rights record.

The Gulf state has been widely criticised for its ban on same-sex relationships - with homosexual acts illegal in Qatar - and its treatment of migrant workers. In February 2021, the Guardian reported 6,500 workers had died in Qatar since it won its World Cup bid.

In 2010, Qatar controversially clinched the rights to the World Cup after winning a ballot of Fifa's 22 executive members, beating bids from the US, South Korea, Japan and Australia.

It is the first Arab nation to host the tournament, with the Qatari football team having never previously qualified. In fact, Qatar's football heritage is minimal at best.

Qatar was accused of paying Fifa officials £3m ($3.7m) in bribes to secure their backing, but was cleared after a two-year FIFA investigation. However, concerns over corruption have never gone away completely.

A number of the 22 Fifa executive committee members who voted on that bid have since been accused, banned or indicted over allegations of corruption and wrongdoing, while the FBI and French officials have both separately opened investigations into corruption.

Then-FIFA president Sepp Blatter revealed the committee had decided to take football "to new lands" in an attempt to "develop football". Since then, though, he has said it was a "mistake" to award Qatar the World Cup.

In an recent interview with Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger, he claimed the Gulf state was handed the tournament due to the actions of former UEFA president, Michel Platini, under pressure from France's then president, Nicolas Sarkozy. He said: “At the time, we actually agreed in the executive committee that Russia should get the 2018 World Cup and the USA that of 2022. It would have been a gesture of peace if the two longstanding political opponents had hosted the World Cup one after the other.”

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