Qatar population surges 13.2 pct in year leading up to World Cup next month

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Qatar’s population has surged by 13.2 percent over the last year, official data showed, as the tiny Gulf Arab state recruits thousands of overseas workers ahead of hosting the soccer World Cup next month to cope with an unprecedented influx of fans.

The wealthy gas producer’s population stood at 2.94 million after some 370,000 additional people moved to Qatar over the last year, based on data collected in September and released by Qatar’s statistics authority last week.

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Low-income migrant workers and other foreigners make up the majority of the country’s population while Qatari nationals number around 380,000.

World Cup organizers face a personnel shortage as Qatar prepares to receive an estimated 1.2 million visitors during soccer’s largest event, which is expected to put pressure on its infrastructure, hospitality, and security sector.

Hotel operator Accor is recruiting 12,000 temporary overseas employees to operate 65,000 rooms in apartments and homes serving as temporary fan housing.

Qatar has an agreement with Turkey to provide more than 3,000 riot police and Pakistan has also agreed to deploy troops to Qatar during the tournament.

Qatar has built expressways, seven soccer stadiums, hotels and skyscrapers, spending at least $229 billion on infrastructure, according to budget documents. Around half of Qatar’s population is employed in the construction industry.

In the years after the tournament, Qatar’s population is expected to decline by about 1.2 percent year-on-year and shrink to 2.5 million by 2027, the International Monetary Fund forecasts.

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