Qatar aims to build $20 bln sports sector ahead of World Cup
DOHA, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Qatar wants to attract more sports
companies to the Gulf state, aiming to develop a $20 billion
sports sector ahead of the 2022 World Cup, a senior official
said on Sunday.
Qatar Financial Center (QFC) - which licenses foreign
companies, mostly in the finance sector, to exempt them from
local ownership laws - aims to license about 150 sports
companies by 2022, including around 25 this year, QFC's CEO
Yousuf Al-Jaida said at an event to announce the strategy. He
did not give any names.
The drive to attract sports-related multinationals and
facilitate the commercialisation of sports-related services in
the state is part of plans to become a regional hub for sporting
events in the run-up to Qatar's hosting of the 2022 soccer World
Cup, he said.
This month FIFA established a joint venture in Qatar to help
run the tournament.
"A lot of the value chain is moving to Qatar as we speak for
the World Cup 2022," Jaida said.
Qatar will this year stage the World Championships in
Athletics, a biennial even organised by the International
Association of Athletics Federations.
"We're looking at sports service companies, legal companies,
education and training, sportswear and equipment... it's a
detailed cluster of sports companies catering to 2022," Jaida
Last year QFC announced plans for new incentives, like free
office space and seed capital, to compete with neighbouring
Jaida said QFC also aims to attract companies in areas such
as Islamic Finance, fintech and media as part of plans to
attract 1,000 companies across sectors by the time Qatar hosts
the World Cup, up from about 600 at present.
Qatar is looking to draw foreign investment and diversify
its gas-centred economy but faces a diplomatic and trade boycott
launched by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and
Egypt in 2017. The bloc accuses Doha of supporting terrorism,
which it denies.
There was no figure immediately available for the current
value of sports investment.
Jaida said Qatar is also positioned to serve as an
alternative hub to Dubai for regional markets like Kuwait, Oman,
Turkey and Pakistan, where relations have grown stronger since
the Gulf rift.
"We believe that due to the geopolitical situation some very
interesting government-to-government relations have formed
between Qatar and neighbouring countries... (and) these can be
target markets for companies wishing to do regional activities
out of QFC," Jaida said.
(Reporting by Eric Knecht; Editing by Susan Fenton)
First Published: 2019-02-17 15:55:10
Updated 2019-02-17 15:55:57
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