By Carlin Gerbich
Qatar’s winning 2022 World Cup bid has put the Gulf nation on the map, but is it ready to match expectations?
mercurial moment arrived with a bang nine days ago as FIFA delivered its verdict
on the rights to host the 2022 football World Cup. The tiny Gulf nation emerged
victorious having knocked out the USA in a 14-8 verdict during the fourth
and final round of voting by FIFA’s executive committee.
Reaction to the news was still fresh during the QPM and Construction
Week HSE in Construction conference held in Doha early last week.
QPM CEO Nasser Abdulrahman Kamal told CW on the sidelines of
the conference, “Obviously, it is difficult to express the feeling as the challenge
that they had to overcome, those who organised the bid, those who led the bid, I
think they have been doing incredible work.”
“To overcome the giants that were competing against them, and
as far as I’m concerned, that sets a cornerstone for the nation to move forward.
And it sets a directive for executives to establish what is ahead of them, and hopefully
try to achieve the mission that is in the head of the leaders.”
He said that the bid was strong on a number of key points, but
perhaps most notable was the focus on Qatar’s desire to unite nations through
the power of the sporting tournament.
“We also have the wealth to make the event happen. We have all
the willingness to make it happen because we have demonstrated in the past, when
we did the Asian games. Everyone said it was impossible, but we demonstrated that
when our leaders commit to something, they mean it, and they make it happen.”
Conference guest speaker Karl Simons, regional director, Construction
and Regional Management System, Hyder Consulting, said the event and the years leading
up to the tournament were crucial for Qatar.
“Over the next 10 years, the spotlight of the world will be on
and if you think back recently to what happened at the Indian approach towards the
[Commonwealth] Games with the bridge collapse, suddenly the perception of the whole
games was that it was an unsafe place to go.”
“It’s absolutely incumbent on us as the industry leading body
of professionals to now start to steer the government towards the establishment
of a committee that would allow the appropriate actions to be taken to start the
process,” he said.
His thoughts were echoed by QPM’s HSE director Wayne Harris,
who told delegates that the event would draw terrific scrutiny from every quarter,
and that Qatar’s construction industry must pull together to ensure everything from
HSE standards, design and build quality, project delivery and infrastructure was
completed to the very best of Qatar’s ability.
“The FIFA bid does have an impact on construction development.
There should not be one organisation, forget safety for a moment, I’m talking about
corporate bodies in construction – consultant engineers, architecture firms. All
of a sudden, the ballpark has changed. The world expects five-star standards,” he
“Once you become a global sporting event, you’ve got to come
together as a collective body. You can’t go about it on your own. That means that
groups such as the Society of Engineers here in Qatar has a part to play. Construction
companies should all asking, ‘Are we doing enough?’ and ‘Are we doing what we should
Harris said that while the announcement had taken the brakes
off some projects, many other projects were still in the design stage and had not
yet been put out to tender.
“Once the construction starts, say in 12 months time, the real
big start, we’re going to see a boom like we saw in the rest of the Middle East in 2005-2006, when it started to really kick off,”
That would mean an influx of workers who will need to be able
to work to high standards, safely and effectively. However, he said there was little
time left for companies who wanted to secure World Cup contracts and who had not
already addressed their working practices.
“My advice to any professional, whether they’re in construction
management, project management, commercial, HSE, is, if you have not sat down yet,
in your organisation and said ‘what are we going to plan for the World Cup’, you’re
going to miss the boat because when you come to tender for any of these projects
in the future, the requirements are going to change – and you’re going to have to
be ready for it,” he said.
While many delegates said the World Cup presented fantastic opportunities
for contractors, others were cautious in their predictions over Qatar’s ability
to host an influx of visitors to the nation. One delegate, who preferred to not
be named, said the country’s infrastructure needed considerable work and expenditure
on each of the four key areas – roading, power, water and sewerage – if it was to
stand any chance of coping with the numbers of visitors expected.
Another delegate, who wished to remain anonymous said, “It will
be good for the country once everything is done, but it’s going to take a lot of
work, starting right now, to get things moving. I’m sure these things have been
thought of, and there are people in better positions that I to comment, but I can’t
see how it’s going to be done.”
“Mind you, they have the money and the will to do it. They
showed they could manage it in 2006 with the Asian Games, so I guess it’s possible
if you have these things in place. With so many projects on the go at the same time
over the next 12 years, it’s going to be a nightmare for local people. But they
all want it, so I’m sure they’ll put up with any temporary inconvenience.”