According to official estimates, more than 1.2 million people are expected to visit Qatar during the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which will take place for the first time ever in the Middle East and only for the second time in Asia, over eight venues, between 20 November and 18 December.
Despite being a popular business hub and a fledging tourist destination, Qatar has never experienced such an afflux of tourists in its history, while other 32 high-profile football teams, the best in the world, will move for several weeks for their training camps and official matches for the competition.
For all of the stakeholders involved in the competition, security will be paramount, therefore plenty of preparations needed to be made in the department, as everything will be monitored and gone over with a fine tooth comb, as the FIFA World Cup is the highest-profile event in the history of football.
Therefore, Qatar is expected to deploy tens of thousands of security forces to ensure a seamless organization of the competition, with both domestic and foreign agents ready to take charge and thrash any potential security issue immediately as it arises.
While there have not been any well-publicized security threats for Qatar over the last decade, nothing can be left to chance, therefore Qatar security forces, as well as partners from 13 other countries have carried out a five-day security exercise throughout the whole country in late October.
Dubbed “Watan”, which means “nation” in Arabic, this exercise involved over 32.000 government security personnel and 17,000 from the private security sector.
The military exercise saw Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, France, Germany, Poland, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Spain, Palestine, the USA, Turkey, and the UK sending key personnel to help enhance the responsiveness in emergencies and enact the mechanisms of command, control, and cooperation between military and civil agencies to achieve integration of their roles while accomplishing the missions.
“The participation of forces from friendly countries with specialized skills will constitute a real addition to the security forces of the tournament … and these forces will work under a unified Qatari leadership,” said Jabr Hammoud Jabr Al Nuaimi, the Interior Ministry spokesperson, according to Reuters.
These exercises have been just a final rehearsal for a well-thought plan, which was hatched since Qatar was awarded the organization of the 2022 FIFA World Cup over a decade ago and it involved a three-pronged approach, in total commitment to the geography of the country: in the air, on the sea, and on the ground.
In the air, Qatar has taken delivery of the first batch of the UK-produced Eurofighter Typhoons last August, which will be part of the Joint Typhoon Squadron, known as 12 Squadron, run in close partnership with the United Kingdom. The purpose of the state-of-the-art planes will be a counterterrorism mission and was acquired in an $8 billion deal, signed in 2017. The Middle East country also took delivery of several NH90 helicopters to bolster its defense before and after the FIFA World Cup.
All the eight stadiums that will host the competition will be heavily guarded, with the immediate vicinity of the arenas being “drone proof”, with a US system installed in proximity, according to “Breaking Defense”. A no-drone perimeter will be set and no private drones can circle in those perimeters.
Technology will also be used on the ground to deploy crowd control, with research teams in Qatar identifying a new technology that will be deployed for the first time in history. Using surveillance drones, ICT, and AI to manage the vast swathes of crowds that will form prior to and after the matches, Qatar University has created an intelligent crowd management and control system with numerous components for crowd counting, face recognition, and abnormal event detection.
Last, but not least, the Qatari Navy ordered four Al Zubarah-class corvettes, a landing platform dock, and two offshore patrol vessels in a deal worth $5 billion in 2016. The Qatari Ministry of Defence also announced in a tweet on 5 November that the Pakistani navy will be providing ships for seaward security during the FIFA World Cup, while the Turkish government send an unlimited number of military troops to Qatar — who will serve alongside Pakistani army personnel — to bolster the security of the competition.