Qatar property market likely unaffected by World Cup bid probe: analysts

In the longer term, the real estate market for Qatar - one of the world’s richest nations – is unlikely to be affected

Paul Crompton
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Qatar’s property market is unlikely to be shaken by the sudden news of an investigation into the voting process behind the small Gulf state’s winning 2022 World Cup bid, analysts told Al Arabiya News.

News of the joint U.S.-led investigation, launched after Swiss police raided a luxury hotel at dawn on Wednesday and arrested several top FIFA executives, wiped 1.45 percent off the capital Doha’s stock exchange on the same day.

Property stocks, meanwhile, were the worst hit, with the Qatar Real Estate index down by 2.14 percent.

Yet the real estate market for Qatar - one of the world’s richest nations - is unlikely to be affected, despite the government and investors pouring billions of dollars into the country’s infrastructure, including roads and stadiums.

Ian Albert, regional director of consultancy Colliers, said that with few overseas property investors, Qatar is mostly an “inward-serving” market and that many large projects being undertaken are part of a “much larger vision” of the country by the government.

“The real estate market in Qatar at the moment is heading along the direction of infrastructure works and major government projects, so [these will continue] regardless of the results of what happens at FIFA,” he said.

“Qatar will still need its roads, it will still need its infrastructure, and it still has plans for projects that have little to nothing to do with the World Cup.”

World Cup catalyst

Mark Proudley, head of consulting at real estate analysts DTZ’s Qatar office, agrees.

“There’s a number of big infrastructure projects that are ongoing even if the World Cup wasn’t hosted here,” he said. “Being awarded the World Cup was a catalyst for a lot of these things, and as such I think there are other factors that will have a bigger impact on the real estate market.

Large government-backed construction projects underway in Qatar include a metro, a new port, a revamp of Doha’s downtown, and Lusail, a 38 square-kilometer residential and commercial district outside of the capital.

But while FIFA has repeatedly insisted there will be no re-vote on the hosting of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups - planned to be held in Russia and Qatar respectively - the investigations still ramp up pressure on the small Gulf state.

Ever since Qatar won the hosting rights for football’s biggest tournament, it has been heavily criticized for issues ranging from allegations of corruption to questions surrounding the treatment of its migrant construction workers.

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