By Claire West

Following yesterday’s announcement that Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, UK Trade & Investment is encouraging British firms to look at business opportunities across the growing sports sector in the Gulf, tipped to be worth more than $USD 100 billion by 2022.

UK Trade & Investment’s report ‘Rising to the Challenge, Positioning UK Sport Business in the Gulf’ looks at the Gulf’s investment in major world-class sporting venues, linked to the continued economic strength of the region. Across the region, there is a desire to develop elite and iconic sporting venues.

Over the past few years, the Gulf has hosted a number of junior sporting events including the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, ATP Tennis Tournament and World Indoor Athletics Championships. Increasingly, it has played host to larger scale events such as the Abu Dhabi and Grand Prix Formula One. These events have been a stepping stone to the bigger prize - the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

UK Trade & Investment Chief Executive Sir Andrew Cahn said:
“The Gulf is one of the most promising sports markets in the world. Over the past ten years, the region has embraced the power of sport in its drive to become a major tourist destination.

“The region's vast array of sports projects offers a wealth of opportunities for British firms. UK companies have the expertise to deliver world-class sporting events from the bidding and planning stages to delivery and legacy. Whether it’s developing infrastructure, procurement, branding, event management, ticketing or security, UK companies have the expertise and know-how.

“The Gulf region will be keen to build on Qatar’s World Cup success and UK Trade & Investment can help British firms break into this potentially lucrative market.”

Author of the report and UK-MEA Sport Business Leader for ARUP Nic Merridew said:
“Qatar has been transforming itself into an international centre for sporting excellence, and winning the FIFA 2022 World Cup gives it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become a global player in hosting an event on this scale.
“As one of the world’s fastest growing economies, its ambition cannot be underestimated. Over the next five years, Qatar plans to spend $100 billion on infrastructure projects, including a $25 billion rail network and an $11 billion airport. An additional $20 billion will also be spent on building new roads.

“The Gulf offers a wealth of potential opportunities to UK business who are recognised leaders in the sports infrastructure sector.”

Fact file

• The global sports business market is estimated to be worth US$111 billion.

• The GCC construction market is worth around US $3.3 trillion.

• Saudi Arabia has an infrastructure budget on US$126.7 billion. The King Abdullah Sport City will include a major multi-billion dollar project including a range of sporting and recreational venues.

• Qatar is expanding its Aspire Academy with a new basketball arena. Additional venues include a rowing centre, aquatic centres and velodrome.

• The UAE plans to expand Dubai Sports City and other venues in Abu Dhabi such as the Khalifa National Stadium.