Never before has Qatar been the focus of so much attention: When FIFA appointed Qatar as the host nation for 2022 World Cup, the small Gulf state was catapulted into the spotlight. Many wondered how Qatar would cope with planning the World’s biggest sporting event, but the state is more than ready for the challenge.
Qatar is rapidly achieving global recognition as the most attractive investment hub in the Gulf and as a regional leader in the arts and in sport.
Qatar’s story is indeed a fascinating one. In just over sixty years, the nation has gone from one of the poorest Gulf states with an economy dependent on pearling and fishing to the wealthiest country (per capita) on earth.
The written history of Qatar begins in a particularly grand fashion: In the 5th century BC Greek historian Herodotus identified Qatar’s first inhabitants as Canaanite tribesmen. After this, there is little reference or physical evidence to illuminate the state’s ancient past. However, Qatar’s story is in many respects a living history; that is the history of the Bedouin, nomads who travelled across the land ‘taking only memories and leaving only footprints’ in the desert sand. The Bedouin influence is still evident in every part of the city today from the falcon souq to camel racing, to the dhow port.
On the contrary, Qatar’s modern history is well documented. The state has been ruled by the Al-Thani family since 1850. From 1872 to the beginning of World War I, Qatar was under the Ottoman Empire before becoming a British protectorate in 1916. In 1971, Qatar gained its independence.
Qatar’s story since the end of WWI reads like a modern-day fairy tale. In 1939, oil reserves were discovered turning the impoverished nation into one of the richest countries in the World. However, Qatar has chosen not to rely solely on its oil wealth but rather to follow a path of diversification, development and education.
The government welcomes foreign expertise and investment to further enhance Qatar’s prospects. With a participatory government and a stable economy, Qatar provides both national and global investors with a secure home to build their businesses.
Qatar is rapidly becoming a culture and tourism hub. The state has made major infrastructure investments in tourism in recent years including in Hamad International Airport and the planned causeway linking Qatar to Bahrain. The development of the Qatar National Convention Centre is sure to be a game-changer for the MICE sector bringing with it massive rewards.
Above all, Qatar’s greatest resource is its people. Adaptable and entrepreneurial, with a strong Islamic heritage, Qatari culture is underpinned by Bedouin traditions of hospitality.
Qatar’s future is undoubtedly bright. The coming years will be a great opportunity for the state to showcase its many successes and to continue its legacy as a progressive, thriving and dynamic nation long after the whistle has been blown on the final game of World Cup 2022.