More fun and games as Doha considers Olympic bid

10 February 2016

Qatar needs a new focus for after the 2022 World Cup

Doha was not a fun place to be in 2009. The 2006 Asian Games was a distant memory, work was finishing on Qatar’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) infrastructure at Ras Laffan, and the frenzy of real estate fuelled building activity in Doha had slowed.

Consultants were working on a 25-year masterplan and as the pace of development slowed many were asking what next for Qatar?

To the surprise of many, the answer proved to be the World Cup. In December 2010 Doha controversially won the rights to host football’s Fifa 2022 World Cup.

With the bid came a commitment to invest $65bn in new infrastructure, and what followed was a slew of multi-billion dollar projects ranging from stadiums to sewerage and a metro network to a series of mega reservoirs. 

The good times had returned, and tendering activity reached its zenith in 2013 and 2014 when Qatar Rail awarded main construction packages totalling more than $20bn for Doha Metro.

Since then, plans to tender projects that were due to be tendered such as the Sharq Crossing scheme have been shelved, and the volume of new work being awarded in Qatar has tailed off. With just a few stadiums left to tender, construction companies say they are now running on the momentum of existing projects rather than looking for new work.

Without a clear well defined pipeline of projects in 2016, the “what is next for Qatar?” question is starting to resurface.

That question became all the more pertinent after Doha has implemented a wave of job cuts at the start of the year across its transport, energy and healthcare sectors as the government looks to reduce spending amid lower oil revenues.

As the economic malaise spreads, Doha needs to refocus its economy, and there are now signs it could be planning to deploy a similar tactic as it did in 2009-10 by bidding for the for the 2028 Summer Olympic Games.

According to Thani al-Kuwari, a member of the country’s Olympic committee, Doha is considering mounting its third attempt for the games after unsuccessfully competing for the 2016 and 2020 Olympics.

If Doha is successful this time, the 2028 games would give those in Doha that are questioning what comes next a clear answer.

The problem with the answer is that the majority of the infrastructure needed for the Olympics will have already been built for the 2022 World Cup.

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