Qatar used to be one of the poorest of the Gulf states. In 1940, vast oil and gas reserves were discovered. While this replaced pearling and fishing as Qatar’s main source of revenue, it wasn’t until Sheikh Hamad took control of the country in 1995 that Qatar began developing into the emerging market that it is today.
With oil reserves that’ll last decades at current output, and being home to the third-largest natural gas reserves in the world, Qatar has oil in spades. But it’s after something that money or oil can’t buy in a simple transaction.
Qatar seems to be positioning itself to become a prominent international business capital of the gulf region. It’s already gone to great lengths (and royal expense) to establish itself as the region’s news provider with Al Jazeera, and its next long-term move is bound to impress more than just the business crowd.
To assist in further elevating Qatar’s status beyond an emerging market, it’ll be the first Arab state to host the World Cup in 2022. And in preparation for the world’s biggest soccer tournament, Qatar is opening up its wallet all the way.
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The 2014 World Cup that’s set to start in a few short months in Brazil could surpass $14.5 billion, according to Bloomberg estimates. Qatar plans to eclipse Brazil’s spending by 10 times that amount, with much more of a head start on construction, to boot.
Qatar will be spending over $140 billion on infrastructure projects, allocating roughly $45 billion of that to leisure and tourism ventures. The country’s tourism authority says that Qatar would like to use the World Cup as a reason to expand its offerings beyond the interests of the business traveler.
Even with $45 billion being set aside for tourism projects, $95 billion still remains for the World Cup itself. At nearly twice the cost of Sochi – the most expensive Olympics ever – you may want to mark your calendars for this one now.