Qatar spending £400m per week on World Cup.

Officials in charge of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar have been forced to deny that the tournament would be the most expensive in history, after Qatari finance minister Ali al-Emadi announced that the country is currently spending $500 million (£400 million) a week in preparation for 2022.

“We are giving ourselves a good chance to deliver things on time. We don’t want to be in a place where we start painting when people are coming to the country”, Mr. al-Emadi said. The excessive spending by the gas-rich emirate is due to large infrastructure improvements, as work is being carried out on new stadiums, motorways, rail links and hospitals.

Spending at this current rate is expected to continue for three to four more years, meaning that more than $200 billion (£160 billion), will be spent in total. This figure would eclipse the cost of the last World Cup, in Brazil. The South American country spent a reported $11 billion (£8.8 billion), on hosting the tournament, but struggled to get many of the tournament venues ready on time for the opening of the tournament, with work still going on whilst tournament matches were being played.

In stark contrast to the previous hosts, Mr. al-Emadi told reporters in Doha that Qatar only had 10% of the contracts for projects preparing for the 2022 World Cup yet to give out, and that two-thirds of the remaining contracts would be awarded by the end of 2018. Mr. al-Emadi explained that: “90% of the 2022 contracts have already been awarded. That doesn’t mean the stadiums only, we are talking about highways, rail, ports, airports, those are really underway, even hospitals and everything.” When asked if this would make Qatar 2022 the most expensive World Cup ever, he said “we are putting $200bn in terms of infrastructure… If you look at stand alone, the World Cup, no it is not.”

Much has been made of FIFA awarding a World Cup to a nation no bigger in size than Birmingham, but Qatar’s bid to host the 2022 World Cup caught the eye in 2010, when the idea of “flat pack stadiums” was presented by the bidding nation. The stadiums currently being built in Qatar have been designed to be easily dismantled after the tournament. Qatar intend to sent these structures overseas, to developing countries. However, the construction process involved in building these stadiums has come under mass scrutiny, as human rights groups across the globe argue that construction workers have been exploited, and forced to work in unsafe conditions. However, Qatar’s government have consistently denied the claims, and in December even implemented reforms designed to improve the rights of the construction workers.

 

 

Mr. al-Emadi, who was speaking at a government invited press trip, to a group of international journalists, also said that any money for World Cup projects have been protected from any cuts to the national budget (caused by low oil and gas prices) between now and the tournament. Qatar’s 2017 budget has a projected deficit of $7.8 billion. This is due to a knock-on effect from a collapse in the prices of Crude Oil in 2014. Qatar is the home of the world’s third largest natural gas reserves, and produces up to 800,000 barrels of oil per day. However, the market is now recovering, and Mr. al-Emadi also said that the Qatari government may not need to issue any international bonds this year, with the nation “very comfortable” with current oil prices.

Vikash Patel

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