Qatar's Strategy for Post-Oil Economy | FIFA World Cup 2022

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Vinita Tiwari, Middle East CorrespondentLast Modified: 22:50 p.m. DST, 12 June 2014

Qatar Airways, Photo by Erick Espinosa

DOHA -- Qatar will be the hosting the FIFA World Cup 2022. The event is huge and the results expected out of it are anticipated to be equally impressive. Let us unfold the significance of the event for Qatar and how it can improve the fortunes for all the emirates.

United Nations' Study on the Correlation between Sport Events & Economy

There are certain facts that never lose its authenticity and keep on backing the instances even for years. Sports events produce an incredible number of economic and social benefits for the country in which a globally followed and prestigious event such as the World Cup.

Research conducted by the United Nations, which was later published in a number of known papers on this economic, strongly supports the correlation between sport events and the capacity for a country to leverage revenue to effect social change.

In the case of Qatar, it is looking toward a post-oil boom economy to other revenue streams. Though, a sporting event and the revenue generated cannot compare to that generated by oil sales, it does indicate a trend toward seizing opportunities that provide the initial entree into alternate streams of income.

Below are some of the facts shared in the study

An important wing of the United Nations Organization and one of the top contributors in the research, Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), mentioned that:

  1. Sport and physical education can effectively contribute to economic and  social growth;
  2. That hosting World Sports events contribute towards promoting good will which facilitates the development of substantive dialogue;
  3. Sporting events transcend the barriers of religion, culture, and nationalism, thus giving rise to an equitable society and thereby a more prosperous nation.

The study asserts its position based upon historical evidence of past cross-cultural promotional efforts and the positive benefits that were the result of these interactions. In fact, recognized organizations and personalities from known sport teams like Italian National Workers Compensation Authority (INAIL), veterans associated with Brazilian soccer team, World Sports Alliance, to name few, agreed with the premise that sports events engender participation and joie de vivre.

FIFA World Cup: Why Qatar?

Since most emirates in the Gulf region are brimming with economic success, some may question why the World Sports Alliances chose Doha, a city in Qatar to host the FIFA 2022? Here are some of the reasons that made Qatar the ‘hot’ choice:

  • Huge Cost Incurred in ‘Green’ Efforts: According to Zawya, Qatar has proposed to spend a whopping $50 billion on infrastructure;
  •  Use of Solar Power: The proposal is loaded with other positive points; one of them is that the air-cooled stadiums will be powered by solar power and there will be inputs to make use of renewable energies to host the game in a safe environment;
  •  The Efforts Met the Fate: The efforts brought in a lot of applaud from the spectators who were keeping a strict watch on the countries that were a part of the race. Qatar left behind economically strong countries like the United States of America and earned 14 plus votes.

Consequently, according to the United Nations research revealed above, Qatar will receive a good boost to the already flourishing economy.

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The Foreseen Economic Benefits

Any event happening within a country assures a lot of fiscal benefits as well as encouraging foreign investments and visitors to explore a region of the world that they might otherwise choose. The investments received would be directed towards upgrading the infrastructure and hospitality domain. The economy and the job market share inter-dependencies that require that each grows in portion to the other to balance out the macro benefits.

  1. A Bright Example

South Africa is a prime example of this phenomenon. 2010 proved to be a fortunate year for the country when it hosted the World Cup games, which helped the country to realize an increase in foreign trade, investments as well as boost the tourism market sector. Per the hard data, the total awareness factor of South Africa as a leisure destination increased by an estimated 9% after the event. Though the return on investment was not as high, the event still gave rise to a lot of employment opportunities pertaining to the tourism and hospitality jobs.

  1. Qatari Economy: Expected Good Things!

Already riding high with high expat rate, enviable per capita income figures, and a free economy; Qatar is one of the richest and leading oil exporters. Apart from this, the employment market is picking up the pace and is even more ‘hotter’ in the recent times.

The return on investment” is expected sky rocket and the job market will exponentially expand to accommodate the infrastructure, service, technology, and tourism sectors.  Some of the obvious economic benefits are:

  • The world cup will be viewed by millions of people and the wealth and economic stature of Qatar will be staged globally. This digital twist will definitely lure the investors from different countries to seek opportunities to partner in business ventures;
  •  The tourism domain will receive positivity as people will be attracted to be a part of the grand event and thus temporary migration is expected;
  •  In order to be the best host around, the construction domain will be more active as it initiates the building of roads, subway systems, and other infrastructure required to effectively host the event;
  1. “Where There is Good, There is Bad!”

The fact can’t be ignored that good things come with shades of darkness. Qatar is definitely going to benefit economically from the opportunity to host the FIFA World Cup 2022; but there are certain facts that we just can’t ignore. Here are some of the factors arranged as a series of events that can create minor issues for the host state:

  • Since Qatar houses rich citizens, the import of poor workers from foreign countries to build the roads, stadiums, and the subway system that will be necessary to host the World Cup may cause socioeconomic tensions because of the disparity of wealth and opportunity;

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  • The potential for large numbers of immigrants to remain in the country after the event, may cause an unanticipated drain on the economy as Qatar struggles to deal equitably with this immigrant population, a problem with which many other nations wrestle with. However, one strategy is to incentivize the laborers to return to their countries of origin through generous allotment of wages;
  •  The economic and job opportunities provided by this event can be leveraged by these temporary workers to improve their lives and perhaps provide them with skills that they might not otherwise have obtained in their own countries, but it may not be enough to encourage them to return to their homeland;
  •  Finally, the job opportunities for Qatar residents will increase since new jobs will be created to maintain and service all areas of infrastructure improvements or development once the event has concluded; but an equally great chance exists that Qataris may end up competing with skill immigrates for the same jobs in the future.

Whatever the challenges, Qatar is set to be the FIFA 2022 host and is leaving no stone unturned in making the event spectacular, enjoyable, and economically beneficial for all people.

Qatar Opening Up To a Green Perspective

The state of Qatar is known for its wealth-creating Oil reserves; however, with government initiatives to diversify the economy, the emirate is looking forward to engaging in non-Oil based private sector ventures which will initiate job creation. A little known fact is that Qatar has not forgotten its social responsibilities and is striving to provide Eco-friendly environment, and economy driven by companies that value and support employee satisfaction, and incentivizing workers by providing some of the best paying jobs in the region. Thus, Qatar has set forth the following goals and objectives;

  1. Companies based out in Qatar are implementing occupational safety policies designed to protect employees, and are urging the government bodies to legislate these improvements so that these improvements will also benefit post-FIFA World Cup 2022 workers;
  2. FIFA 2022 itself represents a great initiative for Solar Energy which will be used to power the stadiums and air-conditioning where the games will be held;
  3. Then, there are councils and operating bodies based in Qatar, such as IOSH, Qatar Branch, that focuses on business development and ensuring that companies who decide to do business in Qatar can be assured that their workers will be safe both inside and outside of the workplace.

The Verdict

The benefits of hosting a FIFA World Cup are indisputable, and certainly the economic drivers are crucial to the desire for a country to be awarded such an honor. However, it is not only about monetary gain, it is also about the reputation, profile, brand of any country. If the elements are targeted correctly then a lot of positive global attention can be focused on both the games and the country, thus encouraging people to hopefully dispel any preconceived notions and just have fun!

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Follow Vinita on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Middle East Correspondent: @vinita1204

Did Bergdahl Desert in Afghanistan? Questions Remain for Families of Slain Soldiers

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Michael Ransom, Contributing EditorLast Modified: 01:56 a.m. DST, 6 June 2014

"Dirt Devils" Photo by: Marines

THE NEGOTIATIONS that freed prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl from Taliban insurgents are continuing to amass criticism as more and more controversial information about Bergdahl and the deal surface.

While Republicans originally condemned the bargaining agreement because Congress was not notified about the release of Taliban leaders from Guantanamo Bay detention center, and because the government in effect negotiated with terror groups during the settlement, the disapproval is becoming increasingly bipartisan, and is starting to include more voices from Bergdahl's past.

New insight from Bergdahl's unit have been particularly troubling for the image of the liberated soldier. Gerald Sutton, for instance, was a close friend and comrade of Bergdahl and unequivocally states that his fellow soldier was a deserter. Many in Bergdahl's platoon have made similar remarks, and auxiliary evidence supports many of their claims.

Before leaving his post in Paktika, Afghanistan, Bergdahl mailed his personal belongings, including his laptop, to his parents in Idaho. In the months leading up to this shipment, Bergdahl used his laptop to email his parents and explain his frustration with American involvement in the region, and stated that he was ashamed to be an American.

Also noteworthy, a military investigation written in the months after Bergdahl went missing indicate that the young soldier has run away from duty in the past. Once during training, Bergdahl left his exercises in California and later returned. In an incident unrelated to his capture, Bergdahl left his post in Afghanistan and reappeared soon after. Why serious action was not taken after either of these incidents is unknown.

Claims that six men died trying to locate their comrade are cause for anger, but the proof is somewhat dubious. Six men died in the Paktika in the months after Bergdahl's disappearance, but whether or not these men died directly searching for their fellow American is unclear. Some members of the platoon say yes, while other intelligence cites a rise in regional violence as the root of the six fatalities. Still, it is likely that at least some of the deaths are directly related to the search for Bergdahl.

Two things are true as this saga unfolds. As a United States soldier in harm's way, the government was right to pursue Bergdahl's release, although the conditions of the trade are questionable. One national for five is an exploitation of the high value that America holds for each service member.

And also, like all Americans, Bergdahl should be regarded innocent until proven otherwise, no matter how damning the evidence.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Editor: @MAndrewRansom

Women Seeking Safety Encounter Abuse in Syrian Refugee Camps

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Michael Ransom, Senior CorrespondentLast Modified: 00:33 a.m. DST, 10 April 2014

Syria Bedouin Woman, Photo by Marc VeraartDAMASCUS, Syria – By every metric, the Syrian countryside is a war zone. Suburbs are subject to aerial attacks and corner stores have become foxhole retreats from city gunfights. The death toll now exceeds 150,000 lives. Massacres waged by Syrian troops and rebel forces alike continue to raise questions about the legitimacy of either side's agenda. All the while, ordinary people either defend their community or seek stability in a less contentious Syrian locale or border country.

Amidst the chaos, the international community places bets on either the Syrian Army or various rebel collectives. The United States, Russia and Iran make high-stakes wagers in the form of assault rifles, chemical weaponry and large-scale explosives. Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are also seated around this international card table. Given the current political landscape and the violations of basic human rights by the establishment and the rebellion, global efforts to arm either side are a gamble indeed.

One thing is certain. With increased weaponry provisions, a commensurate level of unfathomable bloodletting has followed throughout major cities like Damascus, Homs, Aleppo and Latakia. The widespread violence and continued threat of biological warfare has been a powerful impetus for Syrian migration to more stable nations. Over two million nationals have escaped the perimeter of their home country, while millions more try to cope in the crossfire. There, they face the reality of suicide bombers and large-scale attacks carried out by both factions.

Lebanon has been the principle destination for those people fleeing the ongoing turf war. To date, over one million Syrians have claimed refugee status in Lebanon, a staggering influx for a nation numbering less than five million before civil war broke in Syria three years ago. Thousands more seek safety in the Mediterranean nation every day. Lebanon has been a gracious host to Syrians seeking asylum, forgoing required permit fees upon entry and allowing their neighbors to live outside of designated treatment centers and refugee shelters.

Syrian migrants exercise this right, but not without adversity. Women are particularly affected by sexual abuse following their relocation. Human Rights Watch reports that female refugees are subject to improper advances and verbal abuse on a regular basis while living in their makeshift communities in Lebanon. Perpetrators range from employers to volunteers from religious institutions, according to HRW. The actual scope of abuses remains unknown, as many victims presumably have outstanding residency payments or have little faith in the criminal justice system. Assailants continue to act in the shadows of fear and silence.

For many of these women, leaving home meant a better life for themselves and their children. Rape is used in Syrian warfare as a tool of power and coercion against men, women and children indiscriminately. While President Bashar al-Assad and top leaders of various opposition forces have not openly condoned sexual assault of the enemy, the act is permissible and never punished internally. Externally, retaliatory rape is not uncommon. In a society where rape is taboo, victims are hushed and assaults go unreported. But anecdotal evidence confirms the disturbing and rampant nature of the mistreatment.

Journalist Lauren Wolfe directs The Women Under Siege project and discusses abuse against Syrian women in her feature Syria Has a Massive Rape Crisis. Wolfe cites a report from Ya Libnan news website in which a member of the Syrian Army was commanded to rape teenagers in late 2012. The girls were later slaughtered. Similarly, Wolfe describes a young rebel soldier who was arrested by Syrian forces. During his imprisonment, the man was forced to watch while Syrian security raped his fiancée, sisters, mother and other female acquaintances. Belligerents in both camps resort to these barbaric measures.

The mass-exodus of Syrians will continue so long as lawlessness persists. Massacres such as August's Ghouta chemical attack on civilians and the execution of 51 loyalist prisoners in July have only added fuel to vehicles of hate and violence. While the United States is heavily invested in the success of the rebellion, the White House now knows that many of these renegades are affiliated with al-Qaeda and other terror organizations. If history repeats itself, these weapons may be trained at their supplying nation in the future.

If the efforts of the States involved more non-lethal aid, certainly the people of the world would be grateful. The need for the increased protection of women is self-evident. When better mechanisms to report and convict perpetrators of sexual abuse are established in refugee camps, these facilities will truly be places of refuge.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Senior Correspondent: @MAndrewRansom