Qatari people have always had a passion for sports. From Bedouin tribes to the country's first coastal settlers, traditional sports, such as horse racing, falcon hunting and camel racing, played an important role in facilitating the nation's leisure time and social events. However, traditional sports were also critical to enhancing survival skills in a harsh environment, bringing separate tribes and families together, and defining the culture. While these sports are still alive and well in Qatar today, supported by the state, which is ever keen to preserve the nation's culture and heritage in a rapidly changing world, many other sports have also become commonplace. From cricket to wrestling, tennis to beach volleyball, and everything in between, Qatar's residents fill their spare time with various physical activities and hobbies. And since being awarded the rights to host the FIFA Football World Cup 2022, the sports industry in Qatar has mushroomed.
Before their 2022 World Cup bid, Qatar already had its sights set on becoming a player in the international sports community to help to diversify its economy and support its people into the future. In fact, the country was already a host of numerous regional and world spectator sports, such as the Asian Games (2006), the World Wrestling Championships (2005), and the IAAF World Indoor Athletics Championships, to name just a few. They also hosted annual events, such as the Qatar Open and the WTA tennis tournaments, the Qatar Master golf tournament, the FIM Motor Racing World Championships, the FEI Equestrian Global Champions Tour, the IAAF Diamond League and the IHF Handball Super Globe. The nation was also busy building its own home-grown sports talents in various sports and created the Aspire Academy and associated Aspire Sports Zone specifically to develop Qatari athletes.
Since the 2022 bid win, the country has effectively been given the green light to accelerate the vision for its nation. It has invested heavily in sports infrastructure and facilities, including elite and amateur sports clubs, education and training facilities, sports-related medical services, community sports and leisure facilities, and sports-related businesses and industries. And they have since hosted and won the annual hosting rights for a myriad of sports - football, shooting, handball, athletics, boxing, cycling, gymnastics, athletics, swimming, motorbike racing and Formula 1 racing. The overall aim of all this activity is to encourage new trade and business opportunities, create employment and stimulate innovation, increase tourism, improve the local environment and living standards, and inspire and support healthier lifestyles and social progress.
So, if you live in Qatar or are just visiting and are interested in sports, individual, team-based, extreme and adventure, or as a spectator, there are more than enough options and opportunities to keep you busy indefinitely!