With inhabitants dating back to 5000 BC, Qatar has long been the hidden jewel of the Arabian Peninsula. Fueled by a natural gas industry, which contains 14 percent of the world’s reserves, this emirate is a world leader in energy production, sustainable technologies, and, most recently, sporting investment. This growth and productivity has come about in the relatively short time since Qatar was recognized as an independent state in 1971. The skyscraper-strewn capital, Doha, is the home of a budding creative class, world-class restaurants, inclusive political forums, Jean Nouvel- and I.M. Pei-designed architectural marvels and the Arab world’s foremost news source, Al Jazeera. It is also a city in the midst of a sporting revolution, having welcomed in recent years the Tour of Qatar, the 2006 Asian Games, and the 2011 Pan Arab Games. In the 2014-15 season, Qatar has plans to host 43 more international sporting events – including five world championships.
As well as sport, Qatar has built world-class centers of science and technology, education, and the renowned Museum of Islamic Art, positioning itself as a modern Arab country committed to celebrating it’s heritage, as well as the potential of its engaged population.
Qatar has quickly become one of the most exciting sporting destinations in the world. Infrastructure developments at home and sporting investments overseas have fired the imagination, including the purchase of the leading French football club Paris Saint-Germain and a UAE-Qatar joint partnership to construct the world’s first-ever extreme sports park. The results of a $2.8 billion infrastructure investment include: the Qatar MotoGP track, the five-floor ultra-modern Hamad Aquatic Centre, and the iconic Aspire Dome. For the past eight years the Aspire Football Dreams project has scouted more than two million youth footballers from across the globe – one of the many factors that helped secure Qatar’s bid to host the 2022 World Cup. The World Cup will be staged in 12 futuristic venues, such as the dhow-shaped Al-Shamal, just 30 minutes from Bahrain by water taxi, and the ultramodern Al-Wakrah Sports Complex. Investment in infrastructure on this level will provide solid foundations for future generations – within Qatar and beyond – to enjoy the benefits of sport for decades to come. To recognize and promote the importance of sport’s place within a healthy lifestyle, National Sports Day was created in 2012 by Emiri decree as an annual national holiday in Qatar. The 2014 National Sports Day, which attracted nearly 14,000 people earlier this year, was awarded Best Sporting Event in the Middle East in June.