Is Qatar ready for World Cup 2022? From a South African Perspective

As a South African who experienced the FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa and now living in Qatar with my family, I believe that many of us South Africans in Qatar are able to gauge whether Qatar is ready for the biggest soccer event.

To start out we will need to unpack how South Africa managed this major event which attracted just over 720 000 visitors to its shores. This was managed by making sure that the 10 stadiums were situated across the country and in 9 cities in South Africa.

At the time of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, I lived in Rondebosch in Cape Town and worked in Central Cape Town CBD which was a stone throw away from the Cape Town Stadium just outside of the CBD in Greenpoint. The impact of the World Cup was mainly on mobility for citizens and residents. My morning work commute changed from 45 minutes to 2,5 hours for the duration of the month long event. This was the case although Cape Town was only 1 of the 9 hosts cities in South Africa some hundreds of Kilometers apart.

The chart below, compares Doha / Qatar to Cape Town / South Africa.

From the chart it is clear to see that there is a major difference between the two countries and cities. Doha where 7 of the 9 stadiums are situated, is just over 5% the size of Cape Town yet this city expects more than double the amount of visitors for the FIFA World Cup later this year. In addition to this, Qatar only has 2 operational airports to manage the huge numbers of visitors compared to South Africa’s 23 airports which came in very good use during the 2010 games.

In 2010, South Africa arranged special fan walks and parks for fans and spectators. Yet the events were spread out over 9 cities, all the cities were crowded with visitors exploring the rich culture of our country.

The down side to the events of 2010 in Cape Town was that traffic was a total nightmare throughout the month long tournament. For the duration of the World Cup, we couldn’t eat out at restaurants due to most of the eateries being full. Our favorite weekend hang out spots like Chapman’s Peak, The V&A Waterfront, Canal Walk, Hout Bay, Signal Hill, Camp Bay to name a few were all packed to capacity and it was impossible to get through traffic to get to these destinations.

Now just think, Doha is just 5,4% the size of Cape Town but houses 7 stadiums in or in close proximity to the city compared to Cape Town that only has 1 stadium, but yet Doha as a City, is expecting an influx of 1,5 million visitors directly into the city for the World Cup, more than double of what we received in the entire 9 Cities of South Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Our hopes are always that things work out and that we all achieve what we set out to do. Though the numbers tell a horrific story of what to expect later this year in Qatar, we are still hopeful that this will be managed through a plan by the Qatar Government which has not yet been disclosed to the public in Qatar.