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Qatar is making efforts to recover from the post-World Cup depression


Since the end of the FIFA World Cup on December 18, the city’s merchants have fondly recalled the World Cup period, which allowed 1.4 million visitors, according to authorities’ figures.

After months of hundreds of thousands of football fans flocking to its hotels and stadiums, Qatar is seeking to recover from the post-World Cup depression by hosting more global events.

Since the end of the FIFA World Cup on December 18, when Argentina won the title, the city’s merchants nostalgically recall the World Cup period, which allowed to attract 1.4 million visitors, according to authorities’ figures. Business is “quiet” at the moment, Akhtar Patil, who runs a jewelry store in Doha’s Souq Waqif, said. “We really miss the fans now.”

Although the Eid al-Fitr holiday moved the economic wheel in the market somewhat, Sandev Kumar, who runs a printing workshop, had to dismiss two of his four employees and send them back to India because he was no longer able to pay salaries. Kumar stressed, “We miss the atmosphere, but we miss Work more.”

Within four months, thousands of foreign workers have left the Gulf state, while luxury hotels built specifically for the global football event have laid off hundreds of employees.

On the Doha Corniche, where the main fan areas were held during the World Cup, unemployed people were seen begging, an unusual sight in the wealthy Gulf state. This prompted the Ministry of the Interior to warn that “beggary is a reprehensible habit and is considered an uncivilized behavior,” calling on residents to combat it by reporting beggars.

In a country often in need of foreign labour, more than a thousand people recently flocked to the gates of a shopping mall on the outskirts of Doha that advertised 100 job opportunities.

The economy is fine

Qatar, which has huge gas reserves, remains one of the richest economic powers in the Middle East. After recording a trade surplus of nearly $100 billion in 2022, Qatar is expected to grow by 3.4 percent this year, according to World Bank figures.

The population of the small country has increased by about 100,000 since the World Cup final, to more than three million, according to official figures.

President of Qatar Tourism Authority and CEO of Qatar Airways Group, Akbar Al-Baker, confirmed that hotel reservations are often “low” in the months following the World Cup.

He added that Qatar has invested in tourism and is focusing more and more on hosting more large events, expecting to receive more than five million visitors this year, more than double the number of tourists recorded in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many projects

Workers aboard excavators are busy preparing to host the 2023 International Horticultural Show from October, which Qatar hopes will attract a million foreign visitors. Also, a new motor racing circuit is being built, where the Formula One Qatar Grand Prix will be held on October 8th.

On Friday, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) awarded Qatar the right to host the 2027 Men’s World Cup.

Qatari Minister of Culture Sheikh Abdul Rahman bin Hamad bin Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani said that when Qatar launched the “Years of Culture” initiative for international cultural exchange with other countries a decade ago, it was difficult to find candidate countries.

He stressed during an event with Indonesia, this year’s partner in the twelfth edition of the initiative, that countries are now flocking to be part of the “Years of Culture”.

Business owners expect Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, who took office in March, to announce measures soon to support diversification of the economy dependent on gas and oil and to attract highly skilled foreigners, in the face of increasing competition from neighboring Gulf states.

Bassam Haj Ahmed, head of the Qatar branch of consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, said he was “quite sure” the government would make changes. He stressed that Qatari companies show a desire to shift towards digital and other modern fields and want “more resources and skills.”

Currently, foreigners must leave the country as soon as their employment contracts expire, and only a small portion of them are entitled to purchase real estate in Qatar.

Haj Ahmed believed that reforming “work and visa” laws would make Qatar more attractive. “Qatar has a lot of unique opportunities compared to other countries. But we have to develop a more structured approach to attracting talent,” he said.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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