Qatar aspires to be a regional hub for sporting events in the run-up to the 2022 soccer World Cup.
As per a senior Qatari official, the Gulf state is aiming to attract more sports companies to the Gulf state and wants to develop a $20 billion sports sector ahead of the 2022 World Cup.
Qatar Financial Center (QFC), which licenses foreign companies wants to exempt them from local ownership laws so as to attract more than 150 sports companies by 2022, said QFC’s CEO Yousuf Al-Jaida.
Yousuf did not give any names.
QFC aims to attract at least 25 foreign companies in 2019.
The move is part of a broader plan to make Qatar a regional hub for sporting events in the run-up to the 2022 soccer World Cup, said Yousuf.
Earlier 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,” said Yousuf.
In 2019, Qatar is will stage the World Championships in Athletics, a biennial even organized 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,” said Yousuf.
In 2018, QFC had announced plans for new incentives, including free office space and seed capital as part of a strategic move to compete with Dubai.
Further, Jaida stated, QFC also aims to attract companies in areas such as fintech, media, and Islamic Finance as part of its plans to attract 1,000 companies, up from its current 600, across sectors by the time it hosts the World Cup in 2022.
Although Qatar is looking to draw more foreign investment and diversify its gas-centered economy it faces a diplomatic and trade row with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.
Qatar has been accused of supporting terrorism, a charge that it denies.
Yousuf went on to add, Qatar is also positioned itself to serve as an alternative hub to Dubai for regional markets such as Oman, Kuwait, Turkey and even Pakistan.
“We believe that due to the geopolitical situation some very interesting government-to-government relations have formed between Qatar and neighboring countries… (and) these can be target markets for companies wishing to do regional activities out of QFC,” said Yousuf.