From creating natural grass football pitches in the middle of the desert to carving out motor racetracks, Qatar has strived to uniquely position itself as the Sports Capital in the GCC. Unlike its neighbors that have relied on entertainment to be the focus of their tourism, the country has instead valued investing in stadiums and circuits to become a bridge, uniting people from all over the world who share similar interests in sporting events.
The most recent examples of these were at the Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix 2023 and MotoGP Grand Prix 2023 where fans got a chance to cheer for their favorite teams at the Lusail International Circuit. However, the title for the country’s biggest feat yet in hosting a sporting event would still go to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. It not only served to showcase Qatar’s ambitions and ability to deliver excellence, but it was also the first time an Arab country was selected to host the World Cup. Of eight stadiums played in, seven were entirely built anew for the tournament. This, coupled with the fact that the country further invested heavily in public transportation such as the metro, while also rebuilding infrastructure in many key areas brought into light the dedication Qatar has showcased to branding itself as the ‘go-to host’ for sporting events.
Though some of these ambitions might seem contemporary, such as bidding to host the Olympics in 2036 or winning the bid to host the 2030 Asian Games, the country has historically always tried to be at the center of sports in the region since 1976, when it hosted the 4th Arabian Gulf Cup at the newly constructed Khalifa Stadium at the time. The country has since gone on to host Men and Women’s Tennis Association Open multiple years in a row, 2006 Asian Games, and the AFC Asian Cup in 1988 and 2011. After the FIFA World Cup 2022, Qatar has continued to host several other tournaments such as the IJF World Judo Championships 2023 and the Fencing Grand Prix 2022. This legacy continues into heritage sports as well such as the falconry competition ‘Marmi’ and the annual camel competition. The country also established the 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum to highlight the many successes of the sports world.
With 18 dedicated clubs to various sports ranging from handball and football to swimming and tennis, the country continues to inspire and nurture the love for sports into the younger generations. This way, Qatar has cemented itself not only as a powerhouse of global sporting events in the region, but also being an active participant in them with their own local teams. The Ooredoo marathon each year is another advocate of Qatar’s continued dedication towards keeping sports at the center of Qatar National Vision 2030.
This ambition will continue from January 12 - February 10, 2024 with the postponed AFC Asian Cup 2023, uniting fans once again over their shared love for a sport. To learn more, you can visit the AFC Asian Cup 2023 website or book your tickets here.
Qatar will also be hosting the World Aquatics Championships 2024 taking place from February 2 - 18. To book your tickets, click here