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Friday, January 28, 2011

Qatar 2022 – A New Philanthropic Business Approach to be Applauded

Overland Park, KS (Capistrano Global Advisory Services) January 25, 2011 - As a soccer fan and former player/coach, I was excited to hear the news about the country of Qatar receiving the official nod from FIFA to host the 2022 World Cup.

As a businessman, I was most interested in knowing the opportunities that would emerge as a result of securing the bid for this prestigious international event – certainly one of the most significant in sports on a global scale. So, on my last trip to Qatar that ended just a few days ago, I asked a lot of questions and met with plenty of folks involved in the infrastructure, construction and development space.
For the most part, there is cautious optimism among most executives in the country. This lovely peninsula-state of about 1.6 million seems to be buzzing with the prospects that the World Cup is offering. It will undoubtedly create additional jobs within the State of Qatar, as well as serve as the catalyst for infrastructure development that involves airport renovation, highway construction and railroad advancement (along with much more). Still, there is some skepticism that the World Cup will actually produce the sort of return on investment that is being talked about. This seems to concern some analysts.
But is the question really about tangible ROI on a one-to-one basis? My belief is that it is not. It may be shortsighted to evaluate this Qatar World Cup scenario solely in terms of dollars and cents. The amount of indirect, ancillary and peripheral benefit needs to be calculated as well. Granted, that is difficult to do initially. However, over time this sort of ROI becomes more and more tangible, especially if viewed with eyes that are broader and more comprehensive.
For instance, the magazine Gulf Insider recently reported that, “Qatar [has] unveiled plans for modular stadiums that would be dismantled and taken to countries with poor football (soccer) infrastructure.” The same magazine stated:
Projected by the International Monetary Fund to have the world’s fastest-growing economy, Qatar plans to spend $10 billion on infrastructure projects between now and 2015. In that period, the country will construct a $25 billion rail network, an $11 billion airport, a $5.5 billion deep water seaport and a $1 billion crossing to link the new airport with projects in the northern part of Doha, the capital city. An additional $20 billion will also be spending on building new roads.
Given such an aggressive budget and spending forecast, will there be a return? Well, the ROI on infrastructure cannot be calculated merely from the return during the World Cup. Most obviously, the country will reap enormous benefits before and long after the World Cup has seen the beautiful fields of its new and renovated stadiums. An rail system that will be considered state-of–the-art, advanced roads, an enhanced, world class airport and a regional seaport are all projects that are likely to assist in increasing the overall standard of living of Qataris. As important, perhaps, it sets the stage for greater and more efficient and productive international trade and tourism.
Additionally, the fact that Qatar will actually dismantle some of its stadiums and re-erect them in disadvantaged countries is novel and amazing. It is a testimony to the philanthropic nature of the countries leaders, something well known to outsiders. It is a beacon of light to those around the world, and an example to nations that have more to give. It is an incredibly unselfish act that rings loudly around the globe. Not only is Qatar spending money internally, but it is spreading and sharing the wealth with others as well. In my opinion, this deserves great applause.
And just in case you were wondering how Qatar’s progressive thinking will actually impact the football (soccer) pitch, consider some of the truly “futuristic” stadiums that are on the drawing table:
· The Al-Rayyan Stadium – designed to include a “media façade” with a membrane that serves as a projection screen for news, commercials and sports updates.
· The Al-Gharafa Stadium – featuring a façade that will be made of the colors of the flags of all the countries participating in the 2022 games; it is an actual and stated symbol of “friendship.”
· The Doha Port Stadium – created to pay homage to the nation’s affinity with the water, it is in the shape of a sea urchin.
· The Al-Khor Stadium – in line with the Doha Stadium, it is designed as a futuristic seashell.
* Source: Gulf Insider, Issue 72, January 2011
There is much more that is being tossed around. Suffice it to say, however, that Qatar not only seems to be meeting its World Cup commitment well before the due date, but it is exceeding expectations around the world. After all, we are still at least 10 years away.
If that doesn’t convince you, then consider the notable investment and commitment that is being made to Qatar’s emerging young population. Qatar’s Education City, championed by the elegant, eloquent and intelligent Sheikha Mozah (Her Highness), is situated on a 2,500-acre parcel of land and is a gathering of some of the most impressive buildings, institutions and brainpower in all of Asia. It includes the following U.S. colleges as well: Texas A&M at Qatar Engineering Building, Cornell Medical College in Qatar, and Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. This is quite an amazing feat to say the least, and it will serve as a long-term hub for regional educational excellence. It underscores the idea that Qatar is indeed in it for the long haul, and is not just putting its eggs in the basket of an elite sporting event in the future. It is investing across the board, and it is serious about that commitment.
I am betting on the success of Qatar for many reasons, not the least of which is its unselfish commitment to philanthropy and education. It is also – and undoubtedly – on the cutting edge of architectural and engineering breakthroughs associated with sports stadiums, infrastructure and overall development. It is one of the fastest growing and wealthiest economies in the world, and it is serious about its commitment to its citizens and the surrounding region. In the words of Qatar’s 2022 bid president, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Thani, “We won’t let you down. You will be proud of us, proud of the Middle East.”
* The author, Antonio J. Soave, is the Chairman & CEO of Capistrano Global Advisory Services (CGA), an international joint venture, strategic alliance and foreign market expansion firm headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas. He travels to and works in the Middle East on a frequent and continuous basis. He is also the Chairman of the International Business Council (IBC), a national non-profit foundation dedicated to spreading a message of “Peace through Commerce.” Mr. Soave has a BA in International Studies from The American University (Washington, DC), a Juris Doctor (law degree) from Michigan State University and a L.L.M. (Master’s of Law) in International Law from the University of San Diego. He is a former adjunct professor and lecturer at various universities and colleges in the Midwestern United States.
Submitted by Evans Media Group on January 27, 2011 - 9:01am.