Fifa World Cup 2022 construction under threat should dispute continue

The dispute between Qatar and neighbouring states could potentially cause delays to the country’s Fifa World Cup 2022 programme if the current crisis is allowed to drag on, according to a report from BMI Research.

Although BMI expects the diplomatic crisis to be resolved “fairly rapidly”, there were a number of risks to the country’s economy.

“The country is heavily reliant on imported goods, but the disruption of land, air and sea trade routes would force Qatar to look for alternative trade routes for their goods, resulting in a spike in inflation,” it said.

Difficulties in importing goods “would also weigh on the construction sector, potentially delaying Fifa 2022 World Cup-related projects and tempering economic growth”.

Qatar is entering into a crucial period in terms of its construction programme for the Fifa tournament – most notably for its stadium building. It has yet to definitively confirm the number of stadiums it is building, but it is widely expected to be constructing eight.

At the launch of the first of these, the Zaha Hadid-designed Al Wakrah Stadium just over three years ago, the head of Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), said that it planned to complete the construction of new stadiums on a staggered basis over a three-year period from 2018-21.

Although SC announced last month that it has already completed work on one of the stadiums – the 40,000-seat Khalifa International Stadium – this was a project that involved the refurbishment of an existing stadium within Doha’s Aspire Zone.

For the seven new-build projects, contractors have been appointed for five stadiums – Al Wakrah, Al Rayyan, Al Bayt, Lusail Stadium and the Qatar Foundation Stadium.

Final designs have been completed for four of these, with the designs for the showpiece 80,000-seat Lusail Stadium set to be unveiled this year.

In terms of completions, the 40,000-seat Al Wakrah Stadium and the 60,000-seat Al Bayt stadium are both due for completion next year, while the 40,000-seat Al Rayyan and Qatar Foundation stadiums are expected to be completed in the first and the third quarters of 2019, respectively.

The 80,000-seat Lusail stadium is scheduled for completion by 2020.

Designs for the other two stadiums – Al Thumama and Ras Abu Aboud – have yet to be unveiled and contractors have not been appointed.

To date, funding for all of these stadiums and the associated infrastructure works that has seen including a new airport, roads and a metro system being built, have all been funded by Qatar’s government, but it had already begun shelving peripheral products and looking at alternative funding models as budgets have faced pressure due to declining gas prices. A March report on international construction costs from consultancy Arcadis also predicted a cost escalation even before the recent blockade.

It said “as Qatar proceeds towards the World Cup, it continues to face infrastructure delivery challenges, including the sourcing of labour and materials, and local logistics that impact the pace of construction and development”.

Fifa is keeping a watching brief on the situation in Qatar. A spokesperson for the organisation said: “Fifa is in regular contact with the Qatar 2022 Local Organising Committee and the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy handling matters relating to the 2022 Fifa World Cup. “

mfahy@thenational.ae

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