Sport in the desert: there’s a lot more to sport in Qatar than just camel racing
When you think about Qatar, you probably think about the desert: heat, sand, and possibly the occasional skyscraper shimmering in the distance. But sport in Qatar is about a lot more than just camel racing.
Qatar is experiencing a period of massive growth. As well as investing in housing and infrastructure, the Qatari authorities are putting huge sums towards sport: in the 12 months to March 2016, Qatar will have hosted 89 major sports tournaments.
All of this means that there’s an ever-expanding sporting calendar that any expats living there can take full advantage of.
Here are just some of the fantastic sporting events that we have to look forward to over the next few years:
1. 2022 FIFA World Cup
Although it’s still 7 years away, you can’t possibly write a piece about sport in Qatar without mentioning the fact that this Arab nation pulled off a massive sporting coup to become the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
2. 2019 World Athletic Championships
Continuing it’s successful bidding run, the Qatari capital, Doha, will stage the 2019 World Athletics Championships – albeit a little later in the year than they’re normally held in order to avoid the extreme heat of summer.
Doha has an established reputation for providing world-class athletics facilities, having hosted an IAAF Diamond League athletics event every year since 1997.
3. Annual Qatar Masters Golf Tournament
If watching sportsmen exert themselves by running round a track or after a ball is a little bit too energetic for you, the annual Qatar Masters Golf Tournament may be more up your street.
Held at the beginning of each year as part of the European Tour since 1998, many of the world’s top golfers compete on Doha Golf Club’s championship course – from Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson to Jose Maria Olazabal to Ernie Els.
4. Annual Qatar Open Tennis Tournament
Significantly easier to get tickets to than Wimbledon, the annual Qatar Open Tennis Tournament opens the ATO World Tour 250 Series.
Attracting the tennis greats, this year’s tournament saw top-ranking players such as Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Thomas Berdych take to the court.
5. Annual MotoGP
In a country where petrol is cheaper than water, it’s unsurprising that motor sports are massive. Qatar has been a permanent fixture on the MotoGP World Championship since 2004.
6. 2015 World Boxing Championships
If blood, sweat and tears is more your thing, you’ll no doubt be delighted to learn that this year’s Boxing World Championships are being held in Doha in October. Watch 260 boxers compete for a chance to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games.
7. 2016 UCI Road World Championships
In yet another addition to Qatar’s growing portfolio of international sporting events, the annual world championships for bicycle road racing will take place in Doha in 2016. It’ll be the 83rd Road World Championships, and the first time that a Middle East country has ever hosted them.
This is just a snapshot of what’s going on in Qatar over the next few years. With an average of 7 major sporting events each month, and a commitment to position Qatar as a global sporting hub, sport fans in this Arab nation really are in for a treat.