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A digital vision: How 2022 FIFA World Cup helps Qatar digitalize

”The benefits of tech intensity are many, but perhaps the best illustration is how Qatar leveraged the power of the intelligent cloud to further its transformation and build a knowledge-based society that is advanced and sustainable. Public and private enterprises across the country have used the scalability, high-availability, and resilience of cloud services to accelerate their own journeys – to engage customers, empower employees, optimize operations, and reinvent business models while reducing costs and innovating for the future.”

Tech giant Microsoft believes that Qatar stands as one of the most digitally progressive countries in the world today and that transformation, which was navigated through great focus and huge ambition, could not have been possible without high-profile events hosted by the Middle East country, such as the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Setting lofty goals in their Qatar National Vision 2030, Qatar is embracing with fully opened arms the philosophy of transformation, taking a hands-on approach in trying to modernize the country and line itself towards a vehicle of improving the standard of living in its geographical area.

While Qatar was successful in its bid of hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup more than a decade ago, their plans were ambitious, but few would have thought them to bear fruit. Yet the drive has been huge and a variety of cutting-edge measures have been already put in place to ensure the full comfort of the shareholders who will visit the country for one month between 20 November and 18 December.

The FIFA World Cup became the true catalyst for expanding and modernizing the country’s digital economy and used the tournament to attract serious investment in emerging industries, slowly shifting their economical focus from the fuel and gas industry to other areas, such as tourism and technology.

The first steps were made in 2015, when Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, which is responsible for planning and delivering the required infrastructure for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, launched the Challenge 22 award. It yielded fruit immediately, with bespoke apps like Bonocle, which will improve the experience of the tournament for visually impaired fans.

5G, Internet-of-Things and data clouds to highlight Qatar’s improvement

Using its Internet-of-Things platform, the Qatar Mobility Innovations Center (QMIC) has connected a series of sensors throughout the city of Doha, allowing fans to more easily plan the best route based on real-time information about traffic, taxis, the new metro system, and even venue entrances and exits.

For the system to work seamlessly, Qatar have poured a vast amount of funds to improve its 5G infrastructure across the whole country in the years leading up to the tournament. In 2021, according to Ookla, the leading global network intelligence company, the host country of the 2022 FIFA World Cup ranked fifth in the world regarding 5G availability, while the capital Doha ranked sixth in the world for median 5G speeds.

Moreover, 350 buses will be equipped with WiFi for the FIFA World Cup, as the connectivity would provide internet access for players, FIFA officials, and media to stay connected while traveling to and from tournament venues.

With an economy that has been developing at an alarming pace, one of the fastest economies in the MENA region, Qatar is already technologically poised to reap the rewards of digital transformation. In fact, estimates show that by 2023, digital spending in the country will increase to $3.2 billion.

According to the “Oxford Business Group”, “Qatar has successfully capitalized on the opportunity provided by the preparations for hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup to upgrade its digital infrastructure and strengthen its technology ecosystem. As a result, the country should be left with a more competitive, diversified, and productive technology sector once the tournament is over. Meanwhile, the event will allow Qatar to showcase itself as a technologically advanced country – which may help attract further international investment in the digital economy.”

But these are just small steps towards completing the objectives in the Qatar 2030 National Vision, which aims to totally transform the country in all areas and truly put Qatar on the map as a powerhouse digital hub.

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