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Top World Programs Will Spur Middle East Sports Industry – Qatar Soccer

Doha, February 05 (QNA) – Sports industry in the Middle East, though in a nascent stage, has vast opportunities to  excel and grow with top international programs like 2022 World Cup football due to the region’s love and passion for various games, a senior Qatari sports official said Sunday.
 In his keynote address at the one-day Sports Business Forum held here, Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee Secretary General, Hassan Al Thawadi, said, “While the Middle East region is vibrant and passionate when it comes to sport, it is still in the embryonic stages of nurturing its sports industry. However, the awarding of the 2022 Football World Cup to the Middle East will be a contributor in vitalizing this new industry.”
 The sports official, who played a key role in Qatar winning the bid to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022, also hailed the role of conferences and forums in catalyzing growth and spreading sports culture.
 ”This is the first time that a MEED conference has included a specific day focused on sports business,” said Al Thawadi. “That sport is now considered a key commercial industry to be discussed at an event such as this, is symbolic of the elevation of sport in our region within the business world – as well as recognition of the vast opportunities that such an industry presents.”
 He spoke on Qatar’s successful bid story and how the country’s sports administrators approached the World Cup as an opportunity.
 ”We recognised from the beginning that hosting the World Cup for the first time in our region would elevate its status to much more than just a sporting event. There are significant social and economic opportunities.

 ”From a social perspective, the Middle East World Cup is a platform for building bridges between East and West. People from different races, cultures and religions will come together in Qatar, united through their shared passion for football.

 ”People will find commonalities and gain an understanding of each other s respective cultures. This is not to say that the World Cup in Qatar is going to solve the world’s problems and have everybody holding hands   but the event carries with it enormous social potential and it is vital that we harness the passion that people have for football and plant those developmental seeds and watch them nurture. “I do hope that people will look back and see Qatar 2022 as an event that at the very least contributed to improving relations between peoples and cultures.
 ”We recognised from the beginning that hosting the World Cup for the first time in our region would elevate its status to much more than just a sporting event. There are significant social and economic opportunities.
 ”From a social perspective, the Middle East World Cup is a platform for building bridges between East and West.   People from different races, cultures and religions will come together in Qatar, united through their shared passion for football.

 ”People will find commonalities and gain an understanding of each other s respective cultures. This is not to say that the World Cup in Qatar is going to solve the world’s problems and have everybody holding hands   but the event carries with it enormous social potential and it is vital that we harness the passion that people have for football and plant those developmental seeds and watch them nurture   and I do hope that people will look back and see Qatar 2022 as an event that at the very least contributed to improving relations between peoples and cultures,” he said.
 Speaking on the economic aspect, Al Thawadi said, “The World Cup has the potential to be the catalyst of the Middle East’s own sports industry. The global sports industry is growing rapidly, and according to a recent study, it is estimated to be worth as much as US $620 Billion worldwide, with the bulk of growth coming from new and developing markets.
 ”These developing markets have an expected 7% growth year-on-year. The first Middle Eastern World Cup will provide the region with the opportunity to become key players in this growing industry. 

“Leading on from this, Qatar’s 2030 National Vision has economic development as one of its pillars   specifically, nurturing a competitive and diversified economy. When we submitted our bid we recognised that hosting the World Cup could play an important role in realizing this goal, and we worked to ensure that our plans were fully integrated with the National Vision.
 ”Our legacy planning has already started and we want to make the most of the unusually longer period that we have on our hands between being awarded the event and the event actually taking place.
 ”We have formed a legacy committee, comprised of key stakeholders in Qatar. Its purpose is to work on initiatives that will look into previous models from successful mega-programs and to develop plans to ensure sustainable economic benefits for Qatar and the region. We are working hard on laying the foundations and it is absolutely vital that we get it right in this early stage.
 ”We re already looking into ways that we can capitalize on the economic opportunities that the World Cup will bring, and ensuring that these opportunities contribute to diversifying the local and regional economies.

 ”The World Cup can drive involvement from the private sector and we are exploring different models to ensure this involvement. For example, encouraging Public Private partnerships to ensure private sector involvement.

 ”Close collaboration with the private sector will provide greater opportunities for development and growth, resulting in a vibrant hub of dynamic regional entrepreneurs in the long-term.
 ”Small and medium business enterprises (SMEs) are at the forefront of our thinking, and we want to provide opportunities for them to play a role   particularly in the supply chain.

 ”London 2012 Olympics have been able to co-opt SMEs through some innovative projects and we’re studying these closely in order to identify bespoke strategies to ensure Qatari and regional SMEs benefit from the 2022 World Cup and its legacy,” he said. (QNA)

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