UK urges firms to grab Qatar World Cup business
London, December 4, 2010
The British government brushed off its disappointment at England missing out on hosting the World Cup on Friday, urging its firms to seize lucrative business opportunities offered by Qatar hosting the tournament in 2022.
England lost out to Russia in the vote to stage the 2018 finals on Thursday while the tiny Gulf state of Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup -- the first time the Middle East will host a major global sporting event.
Britain's investment promotion agency, UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), urged British firms to look at business opportunities across the growing sports sector in Qatar and elsewhere in the Gulf, which it said was forecast to be worth more than $100 billion by 2022.
Nic Merridew, author of a UKTI report on sports business in the Gulf, said the region offered a wealth of opportunities to British firms which were recognised leaders in the sports infrastructure sector.
"Qatar has been transforming itself into an international centre for sporting excellence, and winning the FIFA 2022 World Cup gives it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become a global player in hosting an event on this scale," he said.
"Over the next five years, Qatar plans to spend $100 billion on infrastructure projects, including a $25 billion rail network and an $11 billion airport. An additional $20 billion will also be spent on building new roads," he said in a statement.
UKTI chief executive Andrew Cahn said that over the past decade, the Gulf region had embraced sport in its drive to become a major tourist destination.
British companies had the expertise to take advantage of opportunities in developing infrastructure, procurement, branding, event management, ticketing and security, he said.
Britain's seven-month-old coalition government is trying to increase the country's exports, particularly to fast-growing emerging markets, to boost its recovery from a deep recession.
Money is no object for Qatar, the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas. The country's economy, forecast to grow by 15.5 per cent this year, is expected to soar by a staggering 21 percent in 2011.
The ultra-modern Lusail Stadium, which has yet to be built, will host the opening and final World Cup matches. Qatar plans to renovate three stadiums and build nine new ones. - Reuters