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Mon 20 Dec 2010 12:00 AM

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Gas giants win World Cups

Is the magnet of resource wealth a sign of things to come?

There will be many jubilant people in Qatar this month, following the shock
announcement that the tiny Gulf state scooped the FIFA World Cup. Confirmation of
the country’s elevation to stage football’s biggest party alongside 2018 hosts Russia has led to much harrumphing in many of the
rival nations, from utter indignation in England, to sideswiping from President
Obama State-side (doesn’t he have any bigger fish to fry right now?).

There has also been no shortage of estimations abounding regarding
the scale of civil construction and infrastructure investment which will have to
get under way in the next couple of years. Any frequent visitor will know that Doha is transforming at a
rate which would already be called breakneck by any other standards, even compared
to neighbouring capital cities which have all been at it. What this will no doubt
mean for residents is a fast-tracking of construction of hotels and resorts to occupy
the millions of travelling fans, but let’s not forget, it is 11 and a half years
away.

Elsewhere many of the big league powerhouses have recently hosted
their share of major events. China
has just had the Olympics. The USA
is still, just about, the world’s largest economy, but had both the Olympics and
the World Cup in quick succession in the 1990s, and when the world is your potential
platform, a 14-year break isn’t too much to stomach for one nation.

Both Russia
and Qatar
boast enormous energy-derived wealth. One wonders if this is the start of a new
trend. With economies in the ascendancy and large resource wealth common themes
in recent big sports project awards, it’s surely just a question of when other nations
will get their turn.

Canada has enormous oil reserves, albeit rather expensive
to extract. But what’s not to say with a decent oil price, we should not see the
2028 Alberta Oil Sands Olympics, the 2030 (joint bid) Algerian-Libyan World Cup,
and of course the Dammam (indoor) Winter Olympics? The Kazakhstan Rugby World Cup,
Baghdad  Thoroughbred handicap and Tehran Cricket World
Cup may be some way off yet though. More’s the pity.

Daniel Canty is the Editor of Oil & Gas Middle East.

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