Qatar’s quest – international sporting events

Qatar's quest
Qatar’s quest to become the centre of the international sporting events world is inescapable. Like it or not, Qatar is pitching for many events and more significantly pouring money, by way of sponsorships et al, into a range of events and organisations around the world. And there is no question that much of its success to date, while well-strategised and featuring quite good delivery locally, is driven by money. Using its investments as effective power and image levers to change the dynamics of international events business. As I read this week’s email about a major stadiums conference to be held in Doha, the very recent announcements about Qatar’s sports and events agenda are profound – in addition to their World Cup success, all those new venues, and their Olympics Games quest. Read on…

In December Doha hosted the World Swimming Championships. In just the last few days we had the 2015 Qatar Exxon Mobil Tennis Open, which ran from 5 to 10 January at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex. And this week saw the start to the 24th Men’s Handball World Championship and a spectacular Opening Ceremony in Lusail Hall, a stadium with a seating capacity for 15,000 spectators. Doha was named in November as host of the 2019 Athletics World Championships and will host the 2016 UCI Road World Championship.

The Qatar Equestrian Federation is sponsoring UK's Goodwood Racecourse. Qatar has bolstered its presence in British horse-racing through a 10-year title sponsorship agreement for the Goodwood Festival, starting next year. Goodwood Racecourse has claimed the deal represents the single largest sponsorship agreement in British racing history. The prize funds for the festival’s races will be substantially boosted by an investment of £2 million to £4.5 million. Races now include the The Qatar Sussex Stakes on 29 July, one of the most valuable mile races in the world,  the Qatar Goodwood Cup, and the Qatar Nassau Stakes.  The first two races remain part of the British Champion Series, which is title sponsored by Qatari private investment firm QIPCO.


FC Barcelona plans a friendly match in Doha, in February. The game is under a five-year agreement to June 2016 between Barca and Qatar Sports Investment. The deal is apparently worth some US$230 million. For the first two years of the contract, FC Barcelona displayed Qatar Foundation logos on their jerseys. Now they have Qatar Airways' logos. Sems to be a shift from charitable type support to a full sports sponsorship. This deal marked the first time the 111-year old club agreed a shirt sponsor. This one is worth about US$45 million per year.

Qatar Sports Investments became FC Barcelona’s majority owner in 2011.

It also bought a 70% stake in Paris St Germain (PSG) on 30 June from US based Colony Capital (having been stake owners since 2006) and became sole shareholder in 2012. The takeover made PSG the richest club in France and one of the richest in the world. Nicolas Sarkozy was to a degree the catalyst for the takeover, and some reckon this was a means to securing the vote of Michel Platini, the French president of UEFA, in support of Doha’s 2022 World Cup bid. And it looks like Michel Platini will be the sole candidate in the 2015 UEFA Presidential election campaign.

As part of the Qatar-PSG deal, several full-size outdoor billboards were located in key spots around Paris, featuring PSG players in front of iconic Qatar landmarks. Early in 2013, PSG signed an US$800 million deal with the Qatar Tourism Authority. And in September 2013 the club entered a five-year sponsorship agreement with Doha-based telecom company Ooredoo.



Qatar’s plans to secure a Formula One race have been boosted with the approval of the development of a new street circuit in the city of Lusail. Qatar has recently been linked to a 10-year race deal with the motor racing series for which it would pay a reported hosting fee of about US$78 million per season. Qatar’s Lusail International Circuit already hosts rounds on the MotoGP and Superbike World Championship motorcycling calendars and will stage the World Touring Car Championship’s maiden night race next season.

The World Taekwondo Federation has announced an alteration to the calendar for its 2015 Grand Prix Series, with Doha in Qatar replacing the Chinese city of Suzhou on the schedule.

Qatar's Al Rayyan Tourism and Investment, also known as ARTIC, has acquired the five-star Boscolo Aleph Hotel in Rome, Italy. The Boscolo Aleph Hotel in Rome is ARTIC's latest luxury hotel acquisition, growing its portfolio to 24 properties across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and North America. The Qatari company has also acquired 97% of The Manhattan at Times Square Hotel in New York.


Originally published in our newsletter, "Back on the Block", published on 17 January 2015.

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Eric Winton

Director, New Millennium Business

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