Long-term supply chain solutions by Qatar for World Cup 2022 will bypass Saudi-led blockade
01 Aug 2017 – 2:20
Deep pockets and a five-year lead time are keeping Qatar’s dream of hosting soccer’s 2022 World Cup from turning into a blockade-battered nightmare. A four-nation siege led by Saudi Arabia has cut off Qatar construction materials it was counting on to build at least eight stadiums, lay dozens of miles of rail work and erect a brand new city before the world’s most-watched sporting event. But as the diplomatic and commercial blockade approaches its third month, the gas-rich nation says it is casting further abroad and laying out more cash than planned to replace suppliers that live next door.
Malaysian steel is replacing Saudi. Oman will provide materials originally ordered from the UAE, they say. China is stepping into the breach with dozens of products, and even Qatar is suddenly erecting facilities to build bleachers. Some suppliers from blockading nations are rerouting shipments through Omani ports.
“For every challenge that we face, there are solutions that keep popping up,” SecretaryGeneral of the Qatar World Cup Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy Hassan Al Thawadi said. “We are working with our contractors to make sure we actually deliver long-term supply chain solutions and alternatives.” Neither he nor analysts ventured estimates for the cost overruns.
The outsize tab will be paid for courtesy of vast natural gas reserves that allow Qatar’s 2.6 million residents to enjoy the world’s highest per-capita income. It is that energy wealth — plus more than $335bn worth of assets around the globe —that’s also allowed it to stand firm in its standoff with the Saudi-led alliance. The bloc on Sunday reiterated a list of 13 demands it wants Qatar to meet before talks to resolve the rift could start.
Even before the siege tacked on costs, Qatar had committed $200bn to build new stadiums, a $35bn metro and rail system, and a new city for 200,000 people. It also set out to double the size of its airport to handle as many as 53 million passengers a year.
‘‘The World Cup is a do-or-die project for Qatar” and it will pay for it, said Adel Abdel Ghafar, visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center.
“It’s a matter of prestige and national pride and they are fully invested in it, so I don’t see work for the project being stopped.”
Cranes swung concrete slabs into place and the whine of jackhammers pierced the air last week at the 40,000-seat Al Wakra stadium, where as many as 1,800 labourers work around the clock to try to finish it by the end of next year.
The other stadiums are under construction, and are to be completed by 2020, to allow for 18 months of testing before more than a million fans pour in, Al Thawadi said.
Contractors say they’ve had to move fast to find new markets for comparable materials, and that’s delayed things. Al Thawadi said that won’t affect the overall schedule and that cost overruns as a result of having to create last-minute supply chains have been minimal.
“The good thing is we have a buffer,” Al Thawadi said.