Deep pockets and a five-year lead time are keeping Qatar’s dream of hosting soccer’s 2022 World Cup from turning into a boycott-battered nightmare.
A four-nation embargo 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 boycott 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 U.A.E., 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 boycotting nations are rerouting shipments through Omani ports.
“For every challenge that we face, there are solutions that keep popping up,” Secretary General of the Qatar World Cup Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy Hassan Al-Thawadi said in an interview in Doha. “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 $335 billion 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 boycott tacked on costs, Qatar had committed $200 billion to build new stadiums, a $35 billion metro and rail system, and a new city…