Turning Qatar Into an International Power

Abstract

Recently, Qatar has been attempting to implement soft power strategies in order to increase its influence within the Middle East and the global stage of international relations. One way in which it has done so has been through the use of sports diplomacy and investments into culture (i.e. museums, cultural villages, etc.) as a means of increasing its visibility to other countries. Sports diplomacy in this case comes in the form of investing in soccer teams, creating soccer stadiums and popularizing Qatar as an ideal location to host international soccer matches. Investments into culture on the other hand focus on developing Qatar into a cultural center for the Middle East that would enable it to gain the same amount of recognition and fame as Paris, New York and Madrid as a place to experience the rich cultural traditions of a region. For Qatar, sports diplomacy and investments into culture act as a gateway for the country to develop its reputation and influence resulting in a greater likelihood of increased foreign direct investments, tourism and other similar factors that would greatly enrich the local economy of Qatar.

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From a regional point of view, sports diplomacy and cultural investments acts as a means of internationalization for Qatar wherein it attempts to portray itself as a means for other countries in the Middle East to acquire foreign partners for international business ventures by partnering with Qatar. However, it must be questioned whether the use of soft power by Qatar through sports diplomacy and cultural investments can lead to its fulfillment of its international and domestic policy goals. This paper assumed that while soft power is a good option for Qatar to expand its influence, the fact remains that its application through the use of sports diplomacy and cultural investments has no evidence of long term viability. Simply put, there is no guarantee that the constructed facilities (i.e. sports stadiums), sports investments or the creation of museums or cultural villages will continue to garner the attention that Qatar is after. After an examination of Qatar’s population, the billions of dollars spent in construction for stadiums, museums and their surrounding apartments and how they can be utilized in the long term, this paper determined that the amount spent does not have sufficient long term justification given the relatively low level of demand within Qatar for the sports facilities and centers of culture that were constructed. While there is still the potential that Qatar could spend billions more in attracting more sports and cultural events into the country, it is still doubtful that this can be sustainable in the long term.

Introduction

Qatar has for many years been an absolute monarchy, however, the political system of the country was changed into a constitutional monarchy in 2003 due to the desire to improve upon the existing system (Yom and Gause 75). As Qatar entered into the 21st century, the state has determined that changes need to be implemented in order to ensure the continued existence of the state. It is with this in mind that Qatar has begun a campaign centered on utilizing soft power strategies in order to develop better relations not only with other states but also with people and organizations as well. This was done in order to improve the country from an economical and sociological point of view.

The case of Qatar is unique in that while its per capita income is among the highest in the world ($93,000 on average with a GDP of $200 billion ++), the fact remains that its industrial capacity is quite low. Simply put, nearly 85% percent of its economy is dependent on oil and natural gas wealth, which is a finite resource. In order to ensure the continued survival of the state, steps must be taken to address this dependence in the foreseeable future. Since Qatar is neither economically powerful nor has a large population, it is left with the option of utilizing alternative methods of developing its regional and global profile. One way in which it has decided to do so has been through the utilization of soft power tactics in the form of sports diplomacy and cultural investments. Through such a strategy, the state expects that this should improve its profile to its regional neighbors as well as various international organizations. The end goals of the country would be to:

  1. Increase the amount of foreign direct investments into the country in order to improve its range of local industries
  2. Develop better relations within the region as well as in the arena of international relations
  3. Increase the amount of tourists that come into the country due to their interest in the cultural aspects of Qatar.

Therefore, this paper will investigate the application of soft power, what methods Qatar would most likely attempt, and whether or not they would be successful. The theoretical framework that will be utilized in order to frame the investigation of this study will be realism due to its focus on the anarchic nature of the international system and the manner in which states interact. Overall, it can be expected that this study should shed light on the application of soft power by an oil and natural gas rich country in the Middle East and how this could relate to the actions conducted by other states in the region that are in the same economic and social situation.

Background of the Study

Introduction

Since gaining independence from the British, Qatar remained and absolute monarchy until the political system of the country was changed into a constitutional monarchy in 2003 (Yom and Gause 75). The Emir is recognized by the constitution of Qatar as the head of state and government. With the country’s leadership being hereditary, no elections are held in the Qatar but rather appointed by the Emir.

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Qatar attained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1971 (Zahlan 23). The leadership of the newly formed state was taken over by the Al Thani family. The right to rule Qatar has to date remained in the hands of the members of the Al Thani family. The position of the country’s Emir has been passed from one male member of the family to another. Often, the leadership of the country is seen to be passed from father to son. Being an Islamic state , Qatar uses Sharia law as a basis for its constitution and laws. As such, there is a close relationship that exists between the Islamic values and the law of the country. The use of Sharia law also guarantees the preservation of the country’s heritage. The law of the land also helps in maintaining the country as a monarchy (El-Nawawy and Iskander 3). As such, the Al Thani family is able to retain their right to rule Qatar. The Advisory Council, which is made up of appointed members, also advises the Emir on the formulation of policies that affect the country. Through the help of the council, the Emir is also in a position to formulate foreign policies that best suit the people of Qatar.

The government of Qatar under the leadership of the Emir has also has been able to achieve a lot of economic development. Prior to the Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani’s rule, Qatar was barely recognized across the world despite it having vast natural resources. Despite the small size of the country, it has an estimated 15 percent of the total world’s natural gas reserves.

The wealth generated by the country following the mining and sales of the natural gas also goes into improving the welfare of the country’s population. Under the rule of Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the country invested a total of 85 Billion US Dollars for the purpose of stimulating economic growth. The money is used for the funding the country’s developmental projects, such as the acquisition of property across the globe (Beaumont 3). The property in turn generates the country more revenue and is seen as a strategy to ensure continued growth even in the future. The Qatar Foundation, which is also one of the many investment plans by the government, has also seen the country acquire property in foreign territories. The foundation has also helped in the funding of developmental projects in other developing countries across the world. Through the foundation, the government of Qatar has been able to exert a great influence on the rest of the world. For example, funding of sporting activities and individual teams across the world has seen the country receive international recognition especially from fans and sport lovers (The International Relations of the Persian Gulf 4).

Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani’s Reign

The usual method of succession from one Emir to the next, is by passing the power to the eldest son or appointment. However, this has not always been the case. Some of the monarchy’s Emirs rose to power by deposing their predecessors (Rathmell and Schulze 13). In 1972, Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani overthrew Emir Ahmad. Unlike most instances where Emirs took over leadership from their fathers, Emir Ahmad lost power to his cousin. The coup was peaceful with no bloodshed and most of the key members of the royal family supported Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani’s decision to overthrow the then ruling Emir. Under the rule of Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, father to Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Qatar experienced minimal growth despite it having vast natural gas reserves. His reign as Qatar’s Emir spanned for 23 years until he was deposed by his son Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.

During his reign, Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani put in place frameworks that shaped the foundation of the country and expanded its international presence. The Emir embarked on efforts to reorganize the structure of the government of Qatar as soon as he ascended into power, which he achieved through the amendment of the constitution in 1972. The constitutional amendment sought to increase the number of cabinet positions in the government. With the amendment, Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani was in a position to increase the number of ministers in Qatar. With an increased number of ministers, different individuals would be entrusted on specific responsibilities in the government. Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani also sought to improve on Qatar’s relationship with other countries through better diplomatic relations (Berrebi, Martorell, and Tanner 421).

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He was able to establish relationships with other countries through the appointment of ambassadors. Through the aid of the ambassadors, Qatar was in a position to sell its policies to the rest of the world. The Emir also was able to push for Qatar’s agendas in international forums through the help of its appointed ambassadors. Qatar also had appointed representatives to key international bodies, such as the United Nations. The representatives were able to ensure that the policies that were adopted at international level were of the best interests to the people of Qatar. Although Qatar was a small nation at the time with limited political influence across the globe, the use of traditional soft power methods, often through diplomatic efforts, during Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani reign enabled the country to join the international arena.

Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani is also associated with the economic growth of Qatar. Prior to the rule of the Emir, the country reaped minimal benefits from the extraction of gas and oil as it had a small capital base to fund the extraction of the existing natural resources. Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani acknowledged the fact that the country was experiencing a shortage of resources which had a negative effect on its revenue generation (Bremmer 9). He sought to deal with the problem by overseeing the signing of production sharing arrangement with a number of international oil companies that specialize in the extraction and refining of natural resource. With the signing of the agreements, the country was able to increase on its production of oil and natural gas. Production sharing agreement was also seen as a way of avoiding increased loan burdens in the country. The signing of the production agreements saw the commencement of the world’s largest single field oil extraction activities. Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani also embarked on a number of exploration activities to identify more oil deposits in the country (Fromherz 12).

Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani had a total of four wives. He also had a large family that comprised of ten daughters and five sons. Unlike his predecessor, Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, his wives played a minimal role in determining how the country was to be ruled (Field 3). However, his son Hamad bin Khalifa was allowed to serve in the government.

Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani’s Reign

Hamad bin Khalifa’s participation in the government of Qatar was first seen in the early 1980s when he served in the Supreme Planning Council. The role of the council was to formulate domestic policies that were aimed at addressing social and economic issues affecting the country’s population (Fukuyama, 24). He was also viewed as the Emirs favorite son. In 1992, the Emir delegated the day-to-day duties of ruling of the country to his son Hamad bin Khalifa. However, Hamad bin Khalifa was only required to play the role of a deputy ruler while his father retained the position of the Emir. He was required to work in close collaboration with the Emir and to consult on key issues that affected the country. During this time, he was in a position to build on his skills in preparation of succeeding his father. He also gained vast knowledge concerning the operation and development of the country’s natural resources.

Prior to 1995, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani only served as the deputy ruler of the country. He, however, rose to power after overthrowing his father, Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani on the 27 June 1995 (van Ham 4). His decision to depose his father received widespread support from the members of the royal family. The coup took place while the Emir was on vacation in Geneva and no violence or unrest was experienced during the transition of power. The new Emit legally confiscated all the foreign assets held by his father an as a result unable to thwart his son’s coup attempts. Although Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani reconciled with his father in 1996, Sheikh Khalifa continued to live in exile in France until 2004 when he returned to Qatar.

Unlike other Emirs before him, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani sought to use soft power in order to propel the growth of Qatar into an international power (Antwi-Boateng 43). His influence over the rest of the world was mainly achieved through the use of diplomacy in the early years of his rule. For example, the country has a poor military background. However, through collaboration with the United States of America, Qatar has managed to protect its interest through military alliances that exist between the two countries. The Emir was also able to use soft power to promote peace and promote law and order at the local level. Through equitable distribution of the country’s wealth, the Qatari leadership was able to shield itself from cases of discontentment among its citizens (Barany 34). The government also provided employment opportunities to most of its citizens in the public sector. The subsidization of important goods and services by the government also promoted a sense of contentment among citizens.

Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani’s wife, Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser played a great role in the leadership of the country. For example, when her husband announced his dream of providing a world-class education system for Qataris, she played an important role in the realization of those goals (Alsharekh 14). She managed to encourage a number of universities, such as Northwestern University and the Georgetown University to open campuses within Doha to provide quality education for the people of Qatar. Together with her husband, they crafted a plan to promote social progress among the citizens of the country. To achieve this, they mainly targeted the country’s health and education sectors.

Their dreams were realized through the formation of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, which was founded and chaired by Sheikha Moza bint Nasser. She also heads other organizations in the country, such as the Arab Democracy Foundation and the Supreme Education Council (Nye 97). Sheikha Moza, was and still is crucial figure in the Qatar soft power policy. She uses her status as a fashion icon and the wife of the Emir to promote the image of Qatar abroad. One example of this was how she single handedly changed the way women from the GCC countries wore the hijab. Instead of wearing the traditional headscarf and traditional clothing, she wore turbans reminiscent of old Hollywood to cover her hair and had internationally renowned designers tailor their famous designs to suit cultural requirements of modest dress.

Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani’s children also played a great role in the ensuring the success of their father’s soft power policies. Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani was recognized by Forbes magazine as one of the 100 most influential and powerful women for work in the art field in her role as the chairperson of Qatar Museums. The Art Review also recognized her as the most powerful individual in the world of art in 2013. Her acquisition budget meant for the improvement and maintenance of national museums in the country amounted to over 1 Billion US Dollars per year (Nayeri). During her father’s rule, she managed to use art to portray Qatar as an influential state. Through art, she was also in a position to help Qatar attract an international audience in terms of its heritage and culture (North, Douglass and Barry Weingast (North and Weingast 804).

Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani is also one of the sons of Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. He is a sports lover and is the captain of the country’s equestrian team. He was the chair of the Qatari Bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup and instrumental in winning it. The country’s win of the bid to host the much coveted international tournament also increased its popularity and influence across the globe.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani’s Reign

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani the current Emir of Qatar is son to Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. He became the Emir of Qatar in June 2013 when his father decided to hand over the thrown to his son. Prior to his rise to the post of the Emir, he had served in the government of Qatar in several capacities. For instance, he performed diplomatic duties aimed at strengthening the ties between Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani was declared to be the next heir of the throne in 2003. Since then, he had been undergoing grooming in preparation of a hand over. Between the year 2003 and 2013, Sheikh Tamim was instrumental in promoting his father’s soft power policies through sports. To increase his influence on the country’s sports, he founded the Qatar Sport Investments, which owns Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), a French soccer team (Katz 38). He was also instrumental in ensuring that the country hosted the Asian Games in 2006. The Egyptian Al Ahram also recognized him as the Arab world best sports personality. Qatar has also won bids to host some of the world’s most coveted championships in the future. Such championships include the FINA Swimming World Championships expected to take place in 2014.

Although Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani’s has been on the throne for a considerably short duration of time been seen to have largely adopted his father’s policies especially in relation to soft power. One of the ways he done this is through maintaining an increasing level of lobbying and diplomatic efforts abroad as well as other methods of cultural soft power (Hudson 13). With the reign of Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the former Emir, being associated with great success, much remains to be seen as Qatar’s youngest Emir steers the country to the next level (Kaufmann, Kraay and Mastruzzi 46).

Economically, Qatar was barely recognized internationally despite having vast natural resources as it has an estimated 15 percent of the total world’s natural gas reserves prior to the Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani’s rule. The Emir, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani however oversaw the rise of Qatar to the ranks of one of the richest and most influential countries in the world (Abadi 19). Under the leadership of Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Qatar was named as the world’s wealthiest country in 2012 and a redistribution of wealth resulted in the highest GDP per capita in the world as of 2014 of approximately USD 100,000 (CIA World Factbook).

The wealth generated by the country following from the mining and sales of the natural gas also goes into improving the welfare of the country’s population. Under the rule of Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the country invested a total of USD85 Billion for the purpose of stimulating economic growth and is used for the funding the country’s developmental projects, such as the acquisition of property across the globe (Beaumont 3). The property, in turn, generates more revenue and is seen as a strategy to ensure continued growth in the future. The Qatar Foundation, which is also one of the many investment institutions by the government, has acquired property in foreign territories. The foundation has also helped in the funding of developmental projects in other developing countries across the world. Through the foundation, the government of Qatar has been able to exert a great influence on the rest of the world. For example, funding of international sporting activities and teams has seen the country receive international recognition especially from fans and sport lovers (The International Relations of the Persian Gulf 4).

In order to understand Qatar’s actions, it is important to understand the current situation of Qatar and what its domestic and foreign policy goals are. The primary domestic policy goal of Qatar focuses on creating a strong and resilient economy through investments in industries, infrastructure development, education and the creation of sustainable local environment. This vision is heavily influenced by the Dubai model, which can be described as an economic model that focuses on the creation of a thriving local economy from almost nothing through the use of oil revenue as the primary means of encouraging growth and development in various sectors of the region. Basically, the Dubai model operates under the premise that by creating the right conditions, Qatar can become a business hub that would attract foreign corporations and investments thus resulting in a better local economy. The assumed end result of such an endeavor would transform Qatar into a popular destination for tourism and business that would enable the local economy to survive after the region’s oil and natural gas wealth has dried up.

It is due to this that the plan of Qatar as is to develop a means of economic diversification through a long-term transformation of the economy from one that is predominantly oil and natural gas based to one that focuses on tourism and knowledge based industries. It should be noted though that while sustainable tourism can be implemented through the implementation of new local strategies, a sustainable culture within the context of Qatar is an entirely different story. Oil and natural gas wealth is so ingrained within the current culture of Qatar that its absence would undoubtedly cause a cultural collapse. This is due to natural resources being the means by which local citizens experience substantial government benefits in the form of reduced prices for utilities. The continued depletion of Qatar’s oil and natural gas reserves is a definite issue for the continued sustainability of the local culture and new methods of independence from natural resources need to be established.

In the case of the Qatar vision, this is accomplished by utilizing oil and natural gas revenue as a means of creating conditions such as free trade zones, no corporate taxes (since the government derives its revenue from natural resources) and the creation of numerous ports to facilitate the import and export of goods. Significant investments into state owned construction firms also facilitated the development of increasing amounts of infrastructure projects which further bolstered the local economy. The conditions created within Qatar would result in more foreign workers and corporations looking for opportunities in the region, which lead to the development of the UAE into a trading, tourism and I.T. hub for the region.

Soft Power and Qatar

First and foremost, it is important to note that while Qatar has a considerable amount of natural resource wealth, this does not immediately equate into making the country into a powerful state. There is the issue of its population, which consists of roughly 278,000 local citizens with 1.5 million foreign workers. This makes the country “population poor” when compared to countries such as the U.S. which has 275 million citizens or China which has 1.5 billion citizens. While Qatar does have a high average income per capita ($96,903 which is ranked as being one of the highest in the world), the fact remains that its total GDP reached only $214 billion which is a fraction of the GDP of countries such as the U.S. which reached $15 trillion per year or China at $13 trillion. This shows that while Qatar has a relatively high-income rate for its local citizens, the overall economic capabilities of the country are rather low.

This is connected to the dependence of the country on its oil and natural gas wealth and the lack of investments into developing its own industrial manufacturing base. Simply put, the country has nowhere near the same industrial capability as compared to China or the U.S. since it lacks sufficient local manpower and factories. While it is true that the country is able to assert some level of international influence as a supplier of oil and natural gas, the fact remains that it is a small player in international markets when compared to Russia, the U.S. and various members of OPEC that combine oil and gas production with extensive local industries to support their respective economies. Combined with its relatively small population, Qatar simply cannot exert any significant form of military or economic influence at the same scale as that of the U.S. or other large states.

This helps to prove the assertions involved in the realist theory regarding the application of hard power wherein smaller states are relegated into “secondary positions” when it comes to the realm of international relations simply due to the fact that they cannot exert the same level of power and influence as larger states when it comes to the traditional exercise of power that is represented by hard power methodologies. It is due to this that the application of soft power tactics becomes the only viable route that Qatar can implement in order to pursue its own domestic and international agendas with regard to the continued preservation of the state as well as its own internal development. The reason behind this is due to the fact that soft power methodologies focus on an “indirect” method of influence wherein the persuasive aspect of the application of power is not done through coercive force, rather, it is through people, governments or organizations simply “liking you” for lack of a better term.

It is important to note that the application of soft power focuses on 3 distinct factors, namely, culture, political values and the foreign policies enacted by a country. Starting with the concept of foreign policies, this aspect of soft power focuses on the way other states perceive how one state interacts with other states. Interaction when it comes to international relations is often based on the process of reciprocity (i.e. I do – you do, I do not – you do not) which is a simplified yet accurate way of describing the various bilateral and multilateral agreements that countries enter into whether informally or through the application of treaties. One extreme example that can help to clarify this concept in action can be seen in the case of North Korea and the way in which it interacts with its neighbors. News channels such as CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera are rife with various news stories that depict North Korea as being a belligerent rogue state that continues to threaten its neighbors via declaring the intent to utilize nuclear weapons, has a deplorable human rights record, and for all intents and purposes is considered as being the equivalent of a prison state (Gause 7). This shows how foreign policy initiatives can have a definite impact on the way in which other states view a country and influences the way in which that state can interact with its peers in the international arena (Hey 7(a)).

On the other end of the spectrum, countries such as Canada which focuses its foreign policy initiatives on peaceful coexistence and providing international aid during emergencies (i.e. natural disasters) has resulted in the country being looked upon favorably by other states and, as such, this influences the weight of its influence when it comes to bilateral and multilateral agreements and other forms of cooperative behavior with other states. However, it should be noted that through its very nature as an “indirect” method of persuasion, foreign policy initiatives that are centered on soft power cannot directly influence the way in which other states will act (Bremmer 9). For instance, a state that is implementing this sort of strategy cannot expect other states to go along with its plans simply by requesting them to do so. Such a strategy only works through hard power methodologies wherein the direct application of force or the threat of the use of force is often enough to convince states to align themselves with the interests of the more powerful state.

In the case of foreign policy initiatives as a tool of soft power, a state would merely align itself along a particular path and utilize diplomacy to convince other states to go along the same path by virtue of their perception regarding that particular state (Nye 94 (a)). One prime example of this in present day international relations can be seen in the establishment of the Kyoto Protocol by Japan that focused on reducing the amount of greenhouse gasses produced by industrialized and developing countries. Utilizing the generally positive view of other countries towards itself, Japan was able to formulize an international consensus from which it was able to benefit (i.e. reduced greenhouse gas emissions) (Hvidt 85). This shows how positive perception developed through foreign policy initiatives can help a state in fulfilling its domestic and international agendas in a roundabout way. However, it should be noted that this method has no absolute guarantee of success since a state would merely be persuading other states by virtue of its projected character (i.e. foreign policy) and, as such, there is always the possibility that the states in question would simply refuse.

Another of the resources associated with soft power comes in the form of a country’s inherent culture and the way in which it is perceived by other states, organizations or even people (Ottaway 32). Culture, in the methodology of soft power dynamics, frames the perception of external actors regarding a particular state and influences the way in which interactions are formulated, developed and then subsequently implemented. For instance, within the past two decades, Qatar has attempted to emulate the success of regional neighbors (i.e. Abu Dhabi and Dubai) when it comes to developing itself as a hot spot for tourism, trade and business development.

One of the reasons behind the success of Dubai can be attributed to the way in which it has reformulated its internal culture to be more accepting of western ideas and standards. For instance, one of the most prevalent notions associated with the Middle East has been its extremely conservative nature when it comes to the treatment of women. This comes in the form of limitations in the way they dress, their local rights as well as an assortment of distinctly misogynistic laws focused on ensuring the dominant nature of the local patriarchal society. However, such gender inequality has been frowned upon by the international community due to its current orientation towards the development of equal rights for both men and women. It is due to this perspective that Dubai re-oriented its local culture to be more “internationalized” when it comes to its treatment of women as well as other aspects of its conservative society (Brumberg 56). The end result was a distinct liberalization of the local culture, which created a boom in the adoption of western trends in fashion, ideas, and even foreign culture. This created a cultural backdrop that made Dubai more appealing to western countries resulting in more international companies coming into Dubai in order to setup their offices or to engage in regional/international trade (King 1).

If external actors were to view the cultural aspects of a state in a more positive light, the more likely they are of engaging in trade agreements, cultural exchange and other positive benefits. This highlights the importance of culture when it comes to the soft power methodology and shows how changes to a state’s internal cultural can yield significant gains (Joseit 1). From such an assertion it can be assumed that since Qatar is attempting to emulate the success of Dubai, it is likely that it would attempt some means of making its local culture more acceptable to the members of the international community. This aspect will be focused on in the findings and analysis section of this paper, which will delve into the current activities of Qatar and determine how they are in line with the soft power strategies that have been mentioned so far.

What Is Soft Power and How Is It Applied?

At its core, soft power can be defined as a strategy that “co-opts” instead of coerces organizations, people or even states towards a particular end goal as defined by the state implementing soft power strategies. Essentially, it is a means of influencing the opinion of the general public, organizations, or other such entities regarding their views on a particular concept or set of policies. This is done not through force, rather, through direct or indirect methods of persuasion that focus on how people view what is being presented (Moore 3). Before proceeding, it is important to first differentiate soft power from hard power in order to get an overview regarding the process of persuasion that is commonly attributed to soft power strategies. Hard power on the other hand utilizes a country’s economic capacity or military force in order to assert control and influence the behavior of other countries in the international arena. It can be considered as an overt imposition of influence of one state over another due to innate differences in economic and military might. This strategy has its basis on the theory of realism, which has the following assumptions:

  • The international system is anarchic.
  • There is no authority above states capable of regulating their interactions.
  • States are individualistic in that they prefer to decide on their relationships with other states on their own rather than having those decisions dictated by an outside entity. Hence, the fact that states are considered the primary actors in international relations with no other entity (aside from a stronger state) being capable of dictating their actions.
  • States mold the system using statecraft.

According to the realist perspective, sovereign states are the primary actors in international relations, and, as such, are the main movers in the international system.

Based on these assumptions, it can be interpreted that the application of influence through hard power is due to the individualistic nature of states wherein power is the focal point behind state interactions in the international arena (Dorsey 4). Powerful states would thus dominate the international scene with weaker states being subservient to their will. Such a relationship can actually be seen in the case of the U.S., Russia, and China wherein by virtue of their economic and military might, they assert their influence on their neighbors in order to achieve their individual goals.

Examples of this can be seen in the interaction between the U.S. and Mexico regarding trade and regional migration, the interaction of Russia and Ukraine where Russia is actively trying to control the activities of its neighboring country that used to be part of the U.S.S.R while and China in its attempts to increase its sphere of influence in the region through expansion into contested international waters utilizing its military and economic might to discourage active resistance from weaker countries such as the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand. Thus, from the realist perspective, the application of hard power strategies is merely the manifestation of another aspect of realism which explains that states are considered rational unitary actors with all of them pursuing actions both internationally and domestically for the sake of their national interest.

The use of hard power is the way in which states pursue an overt means of pursuing their national interest through the use of economic and military might as tools to get what they want. What must be understood is that despite regularly engaging in situations of necessary international cooperation (i.e. trade, bilateral treaties, multilateral agreements, etc.), states continue to strategize in order to maintain their national advantages. Larger and richer nations perceive this move as one that increases their advantage while less powerful and smaller states accept being seen and treated as trivial characters on the international scene.

One of the base principles of the realist theory explains that for each state, national interest becomes the overriding facilitator of decision-making because of the necessity of national security and survival. In pursuit of national security, states strive to amass resources, whether economic, military, or political, in order to ensure the survival of the state. This is one of the reasons why states even apply hard or soft power strategies in the first place, countries do not exist within a void and with the increasing interconnection of states due to globalization, this has resulted in the need to apply an assortment of methods in order to acquire “power” in the form of resources, trade agreements and economic might in order to ensure the continued existence of the state. Taking this concept into consideration, this creates the question of what happens when a state does not have economic or military might.

Understanding Qatar and the Origin of Soft Power

To understand the application of soft power, it is important to understand its origins and the current debate surrounding its application in the case of Qatar. First and foremost, soft power (as it is currently understood within the context of international relations strategy) was initially coined by Joseph Nye in order describe the actions of large powers utilizing what can be boiled down to as “the carrot versus the stick” approach (Blatt 34). What this means is that instead of utilizing coercion in order to force international relations towards a desired outcome, what instead occurs is that outcomes come about by states basically trusting the credibility of another state and following their “lead” so to speak (Blatt 34). The origins behind the definition of soft power were developed by Nye through this observation of the interactions of the U.S. with other global and regional powers and how it in effect “lead the region or even the world” without necessarily applying coercive elements.

Credibility, Nye goes on to explain, is “the bread and butter” so to speak of soft power wherein states follow the lead of a state (or other states on a case to case basis) due to how they perceive that state (Blatt 34). When it comes to an example regarding the origins of soft power, this takes the form of the U.S. being the world’s largest economy (mid 1900s til the present) and, as a result, its actions both domestically and internationally when it came to its monetary and trade policies were constantly observed by other states in order to follow the lead of the U.S. without the country even having to tell other states to do so. Blatt points to other examples of the origin of the definition of soft power such as the fact that the world basically utilizes the U.S. dollar as a de facto international currency with the global economy in effect running as it does due to dollars acting as its “life’s blood”. This result is due to the credibility that is attached to the currency which is often considered as being “secure” despite various domestic issues within the U.S. (ex: the 2007 financial crisis and the constant bi-partisan debates between Republicans and Democrats regarding the raising of the debt ceiling, etc.) (Fukuyama 31).

Other examples of the application of soft power in the economic context can be seen in the actions of investors and U.S. treasury notes which are often considered “the safest form of investment” since these are directly backed by the U.S. government. In comparison, treasury notes issued by Greece in order to help the country out of the finanical quagmire it dug for itself due to its debt were viewed as “basically worthless” by investors. This is despite the fact that the total debt of Greece is $413 billion dollars while in the case of the U.S. it has reached $18 trillion dollars (Fukuyama 31). The mere fact that the U.S. debt ceiling continues to increase yet U.S. treasury bonds are still considered “safe investments” shows the application of credibility in the face of overwhelming evidence to do the contrary (i.e. from the context of banking: not loaning more money to a client who already has a substantial amount of debt which they have yet to repay) (Fukuyama 31). While this can be attributed to the size and economic power of either state in comparison to each other, the fact remains that despite the constant issues the U.S. has found itself in, investors and economists alike attribute a sense of “security and stability” to the U.S. despite such incidents which lend a considerable level of credibility to the country.

All of the examples thus far help to create the “initial picture” so to speak of the origin of soft power under the context of the definition provided by Nye. It should be noted though that some criticisms against the application of soft power strategies such as Fukuyama, state that these strategies suffer from the same “limitations” as hard power strategies since they are dependent on “size” as the determining factor behind impact. The context behind the statement of Fukuyama lies in the previous example given between the amount of credibility attributed to U.S. treasuries versus the same sort of asset being sold by the treasury department of Greece. Simply put, despite both countries being heavily in debt (with the U.S. debt ceiling far eclipsing the total debt of Greece), Fukuyama asserts that it is the difference in size between the two that helps to create the much vaunted “credibility” that is at the heart of soft power strategy. What this means is that size and potential impact help to determine the application of credibility with smaller states (within an economic context based on the example given) being at a considerable disadvantage given their limited resources (Nonneman 22).

This assertion flies in the face of the thought that soft power acts as an “alternative” so to speak for countries that lack the capacity for hard power since they are similarly subject to the same size limitations found in hard power strategies where relevancy is determine by capability. It is this due to this perspective that various experts in the field of international relations call into question whether soft power can truly be separate from hard power strategies or is merely a different iteration of control that is exclusive to stronger states with weaker states being subject to the false assumption that they too can acquire almost the same level of credibility through the application of soft power strategies (Nonneman 22). It is this “false assumption” in light of the “requirements” needed in creating credibility that is often at the forefront of the debate surrounding soft power and its usage.

Qatar and its Regional and Global Efforts at Self-Promotion through its Foreign Policy Initiatives

Aside from its desire to shape itself into a tourism and business destination, other aspects of Qatar’s foreign policy agenda focuses on developing relations with multiple different parties in order to expand its influence into multiple regions. Unfortunately, based on the work of Grix, it was noted that such a strategy has backfired resulting in Qatar developing a reputation within the Middle East as a “maverick” state instead of one with sufficient levels of credibility attached to its actions (Grix 232). One aspect of Qatar’s strategy that has been highly criticized by regional powers has been its willingness to support U.S. activities and various regional powers in their economic and political endeavors yet also subtlety supports factions deemed as “disreputable” by the same powers. This refers to the material support that Qatar was caught giving to various militant groups in the Middle East in order to garner their favor (Grix 240).

Not only that, Qatar has developed relationships with states that are at odds with one another such as Iran, Israel, China, the U.S. and various militant factions. In other words, Qatar’s foreign policy initiative is not to commit to any single course of action, instead, it attempts to cover all its bases on multiple fronts. The inherent problem with such a stance is that it seriously detracts from the desired credibility that Qatar is attempting to garner (Grix 247). Simply put, while Qatar does have extensive trade and political relations with various regional and global powers, Cornelisse explains that these countries are doubtful of Qatar’s true allegiances and, as such, attribute little in the way of sufficient credibility to the country outside of its already present relations that focus on trade and economic relations (Cornelisse 487). While the country’s security doctrine has been to maintain a balance in its relations, Cornelisse states that credibility when it comes to soft power is often based on prolonged actions along a certain line of activities or processes.

This idea is based off institutional theory that states that people are more likely to be amenable to a certain institution or organization based on how long it has existed and not necessarily on how effective or better its processes are (Kinninmont 5). This means that states are more trusting and lend a certain level of credibility to another state based on prolonged actions that do not differ from what they say they do and what they actually do. It is based on this line of reasoning that the credibility surrounding Qatar has seriously suffered since the country focuses itself on multiple fronts (i.e. catering to parties with opposing if not outright dissimilar viewpoints) in both an obvert and subversive manner (i.e. out in the open or through backroom dealings).

In fact, the Arab League has continuously criticized the actions of Qater in relation to its chosen orientation resulting in a considerable level of animosity being directed towards the leaders of the country (Kinninmont 5). This has created an issue for the country necessitating the need to expand its influence beyond its regional boundaries. What must be understood is that Qatar is placed in a unique situation wherein despite oil wealth, it is unable to enact sufficient levels of economic coercion on its regional neighbors. The reason behind this is quite simple; these countries also have their own supplies of oil and are actually far more developed in terms of infrastructure and industries. As such, Qatar is left with the need to create its own credibility through other means since it is currently looked on unfavorably from a foreign policy perspective given its security doctrine. It is with this in mind that the country has focused on the application of soft power through sports diplomacy and culture as a means of increasing its level of influence and enabling it to develop the credibility that it has lost.

Geopolitical Significance

In the previous section of this paper, it was mentioned that Qatar had lost a considerable amount of its credibility due to its security doctrines involving its association with multiple parties who are at odds with one another. Based on the work of Khatib, it was noted despite this setback, Qatar continues to wish to expand its influence due to its desire to increase its visibility on the international stage (Khatib 431). This is primarily due to its present domestic policy agenda of utilizing the country’s oil wealth in order to improve on its current infrastructure whether public (i.e. roads, schools, etc.) or private (ex: apartments, factories, etc.). This is evidenced by the billions of dollars that have already been spent by the country in the various building projects it has been developing (this will be discussed in full in the subsequent sections of this paper).

Through this particular domestic policy initiative, Qatar’s foreign policy thus focuses on highlighting Qatar to the world, which would result in a greater possibility of more foreign direct investments flowing into the country through various investors (Khatib 431). Such a desire is borne from its realization that its public coffers (i.e. government funds) are highly dependent on a finite domestic industry (i.e. the oil will eventually dry up). When taking into consideration the concerns related to the issues it has had in developing its credibility on a local and domestic level through its interaction with multiple parties, the use of soft power through sports diplomacy in this instance shows its geopolitical significance in enabling Qatar to have an alternative platform in developing its much needed credibility and profile (Khatib 431). The geopolitical significance of people in the West identifying Brand Qatar with Lionel, Messi or PSG lies in its capacity in generating awareness for the small country.

This in turn contributes towards the region’s long-term goals of attracting more investors and increasing its influence in the global arena by making the country seem more relevant than it actually is (Brannagan 2). Based on the work of Kamrava which delved into aspects of geopolitics, credibility and their association with soft power, it is the overall impression that a country develops that enables it to attain global popularity and influence resulting in it developing the capacity to convince other countries towards a particular action without having to apply coercive tactics (Kamrava 57). The means through which this impression is developed will be delved into in the next section of this paper, however, for the purposes of this section some of the examples can be seen in the “export of culture” that are heavily funded by countries in order to increase their attractiveness on the global arena (Kamrava 64). Prior to its development into the industrial powerhouse that it is at the present, China practiced considerable levels of “cultural export” in the form of the performances of its various martial arts and acrobatics troupes.

Aside from this, the country also became known as the origin of various types of exquisite potter and plates to the extent that highly sought ceramics became known as “china” in the U.S. Japan on the other hand practiced a similar style of cultural export, yet did so in a completely different manner through its anime (highly detailed cartoon series) and manga (black and white comics) culture which spawned a fan base numbering in the millions around the world. In France, alone the manga culture is highly prevalent despite the fact that the various cultural aspects depicted within each comic is far removed from French cultural as a whole (Kamrava 72). Through these examples, it can be seen that the “export” of cultural is a practice that can have considerable long-term benefits for a state in the form of a greater familiarity for the country in question being developed in other states. While there are no absolute assurances that such a practice results in the desired outcomes that each country started out with when it came to their initial exports of culture, the increase in global fame instead of infamy which Kamrava states translates into an aspect of credibility, though she never clearly explains how this occurs, simply that credibility when attributed to a state is based on how well known that state is and why it is well known in the first place (Kamrava 88).

In the case of Qatar, there have been attempts at creating some methods of cultural attraction (these aspects will be delved into in the latter sections of this paper), however, in the case of the direct application of soft power this manifest itself through investing and sponsoring sports teams. In this case, Qatar is attempting to create a form of correlation between it and the already popular sports teams, which it hopes translates into greater levels of awareness for the general public regarding the existence of Qatar. Lionel, Messi or PSG act as Qatar’s “sports exports” so to speak wherein due to the lack of significant cultural assets, Qatar simply utilized its current wealth in order to make use of assets that are already present in order to enact its plan of increasing its credibility in the global arena. While the overall effectiveness of this form of geopolitical action in order to gain international credibility is still unknown, it does show considerable potential especially with Qatar set to host the 2020 FIFA world cup (Brannagan 22). Inevitably, will all boil down to how Qatar would be able to sustain and enhance the momentum developed from its investments into sports diplomacy as well as the impressions both states and normal people alike would have towards the means by which this type of sports diplomacy was applied in the first place.

Impact of Global Civil Society on Qatar Foreign Policy

When looking at the case of Qatar and the 2020 FIFA World Cup, one of the more controversial aspects that have been mentioned focuses on the various accusations of worker abuse in the construction of the roads, stadiums and apartment buildings for the World Cup. Based on the work of Norris (2012), it was noted that while countries may create their own foreign policies, these policies are invariably influenced based on outside factors that shape how the country wishes to be perceived or how it operates within the international community (Norris 32). For instance, when examining the case of China and its desire to be more influential in its sphere of influence through a more aggressive foreign policy orientation (i.e. its interpretation of the UNCLOS exclusive economic zone boundaries in its case versus the Philippines and other countries within South East Asia over the Spratly group of islands), the fact remains that due to how global society views China’s indiscriminate release of pollutants into the atmosphere and ocean, China has actually oriented both its domestic and foreign policy initiatives towards the domestic implementation and foreign promotion of sustainable and environmentally safe methods of economic development (Nye 97).

This shows the level of influence that global civil society has towards the development of internal and external policy developments within a country since most governments want to present themselves in a good light to other members of the international community due to the desire to foster positive relations (Grix 303). It is due to this that when presented with the case of Qatar and its supposed abuse of workers as stated by the ILO (International Labor Organization) this presents itself as a incredibly problematic issue since it is the desire of the country to present itself in a good light yet when it comes to the case of worker abuse this does the exact opposite (Nonneman 41). As such, it must be questioned as to what Qatar may possibly do in order to balance the need to construct the needed facilities to ensure a successful World Cup debut for the country or to delve deeper into the supposed accusations presented by the ILO and in the process slow down construction which would compromise its ability to meet the World Cup deadline.

Further examination of this shows that between two types of public perception (i.e. labor issues or the World Cup), Qatar has apparently chosen to focus more on the World Cup as evidenced by the lack of significant initiatives to resolve the worker abuse issue. One possible justification behind this act is based on the work of Korany, Dessouki and Hillal (2008) who explained that issues such as disreputable labor practices are temporary and can actually fade into background of public opinion based on popular opinion. As such, it can be stated that Qatar is banking on the goodwill developed by a successful World Cup event in order to overshadow the labor issues. Such a strategy could be effective, but it would entirely depend on how Qatar could sustain the momentum of goodwill and positive perception from the World Cup onwards.

Qatar and Al Jazeera

Through its news network, Al Jazeera, Qatar has been able to expand its reach to encompass a global audience wherein through its coverage of different global events and with the association of the Qatar brand with the news channel, this has resulted in Al Jazeera becoming a critical component in Qatar’s soft power strategy (Panero 1). Do note that soft power and the media are intrinsically linked since positive media coverage can help to develop the reputation of a country. In fact, it can be stated that Al Jazeera is a far more important aspect of Qatar’s soft power strategy given its reputation and the sheer amount of people that tune in to the channel on a daily basis (Hey 27). However, it is interesting to note that there is a level of conflict between Qatar’s sports diplomacy initiatives and Al Jazeera’s coverage which depicts the labor disputes (i.e. worker abuse) involving the sports stadiums in a bad light. Do note though that while Al Jazeera has presented a somewhat negative outlook regarding the state of various workers in Qatar, it must be questioned on how long such coverage will last. For Qatar, Al Jazeera’s importance is heavily connected to its appearance as a neutral voice, however, it is still a government owned institution and, as such, there is the potential that in the future the reports being presented by Al Jazeera could be suppressed due to the desire of Qatar to present itself in a good light.

Soft Power and Qatar

Since this thesis primarily deals with the application of soft power by Qatar, this section will focus on the use of soft power from the perspective of the resources and capabilities of Qatar as a state and its possible impact on the international arena. First and foremost, it is important to note that while Qatar has a considerable amount of natural resource wealth, this does not immediately equate into making the country into a powerful state. There is the issue of its population, which consists of roughly 278,000 local citizens with 1.5 million foreign workers. This makes the country “population poor” when compared to countries such as the U.S. which has 275 million citizens or China which has 1.5 billion citizens. While Qatar does have a high average income per capita ($96,903 which is ranked as being one of the highest in the world), the fact remains that its total GDP reached only $214 billion which is a fraction of the GDP of countries such as the U.S. which reached $15 trillion per year or China at $13 trillion.

This shows that while Qatar has a relatively high-income rate for its local citizens, the overall economic capabilities of the country are rather low. This is connected to the dependence of the country on its oil and natural gas wealth and the lack of investments into developing its own industrial manufacturing base. Simply put, the country has nowhere near the same industrial capability as compared to China or the U.S. since it lacks sufficient local manpower and factories. While it is true that the country is able to assert some level of international influence as a supplier of oil and natural gas, the fact remains that it is a small player in international markets when compared to Russia, the U.S. and various members of OPEC that combine oil and gas production with extensive local industries to support their respective economies. Combined with its relatively small population, Qatar simply cannot exert any significant form of military or economic influence at the same scale as that of the U.S. or other large states.

This helps to prove the assertions involved in the realist theory regarding the application of hard power wherein smaller states are relegated into “secondary positions” when it comes to the realm of international relations simply due to the fact that they cannot exert the same level of power and influence as larger states when it comes to the traditional exercise of power that is represented by hard power methodologies. It is due to this that the application of soft power tactics becomes the only viable route that Qatar can implement in order to pursue its own domestic and international agendas with regard to the continued preservation of the state as well as its own internal development. The reason behind this is due to the fact that soft power methodologies focus on an “indirect” method of influence wherein the persuasive aspect of the application of power is not done through coercive force, rather, it is through people, governments or organizations simply “liking you” for lack of a better term.

Methods of Soft Power Application

It is important to note that the application of soft power focuses on 3 distinct factors, namely, culture, political values and the foreign policies enacted by a country. Starting with the concept of foreign policies, this aspect of soft power focuses on the way other states perceive how one state interacts with other states. Interaction when it comes to international relations is often based on the process of reciprocity (i.e. I do – you do, I do not – you do not) which is a simplified yet accurate way of describing the various bilateral and multilateral agreements that countries enter into whether informally or through the application of treaties. The way in which other countries perceive a state is often a crucial factor when it comes to how they interact and come to an agreement when it comes to a wide range of possible issues. One extreme example that can help to clarify this concept in action can be seen in the case of North Korea and the way in which it interacts with its neighbors.

News channels such as CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera are rife with various news stories that depict North Korea as being a belligerent rogue state that continues to threaten its neighbors via declaring the intent to utilize nuclear weapons, has a deplorable human rights record, and for all intents and purposes is considered as being the equivalent of a prison state (Gause 7). It is based on this assessment that various countries, organizations, and even people are often reluctant, if not outright unwilling, to enter into any form of cooperative agreement with North Korea. North Korea’s foreign policy initiatives focuses on keeping international influences at bay due to the government’s fear that if sufficient levels of foreign ideology were to enter into the country, this could potentially compromise the stranglehold that the government has over its populace. The end result is that North Korea tries whatever it can to keep other countries from interfering in its domestic agendas and does so by threatening other states with acts of war. This shows how foreign policy initiatives can have a definite impact on the way in which other states view a country and influences the way in which that state can interact with its peers in the international arena (Hey 7(a)).

On the other end of the spectrum, countries such as Canada which focuses its foreign policy initiatives on peaceful coexistence and providing international aid during emergencies (i.e. natural disasters) has resulted in the country being looked upon favorably by other states and, as such, this influences the weight of its influence when it comes to bilateral and multilateral agreements and other forms of cooperative behavior with other states. However, it should be noted that through its very nature as an “indirect” method of persuasion, foreign policy initiatives that are centered on soft power cannot directly influence the way in which other states will act (Bremmer 9). For instance, a state that is implementing this sort of strategy cannot expect other states to go along with its plans simply by requesting them to do so. Such a strategy only works through hard power methodologies wherein the direct application of force or the threat of the use of force is often enough to convince states to align themselves with the interests of the more powerful state.

In the case of foreign policy initiatives as a tool of soft power, a state would merely align itself along a particular path and utilize diplomacy to convince other states to go along the same path by virtue of their perception regarding that particular state (Nye 94 (a)). One prime example of this in present day international relations can be seen in the establishment of the Kyoto Protocol by Japan that focused on reducing the amount of greenhouse gasses produced by industrialized and developing countries. Utilizing the generally positive view of other countries towards itself, Japan was able to formulize an international consensus from which it was able to benefit (i.e. reduced greenhouse gas emissions) (Hvidt 85). This shows how positive perception developed through foreign policy initiatives can help a state in fulfilling its domestic and international agendas in a roundabout way. However, it should be noted that this method has no absolute guarantee of success since a state would merely be persuading other states by virtue of its projected character (i.e. foreign policy) and, as such, there is always the possibility that the states in question would simply refuse.

Another of the resources associated with soft power comes in the form of a country’s inherent culture and the way in which it is perceived by other states, organizations or even people (Ottaway 32). Culture, in the methodology of soft power dynamics, frames the perception of external actors regarding a particular state and influences the way in which interactions are formulated, developed and then subsequently implemented. For instance, within the past two decades, Qatar has attempted to emulate the success of regional neighbors (i.e. Abu Dhabi and Dubai) when it comes to developing itself as a hot spot for tourism, trade and business development.

One of the reasons behind the success of Dubai can be attributed to the way in which it has reformulated its internal culture to be more accepting of western ideas and standards. For instance, one of the most prevalent notions associated with the Middle East has been its extremely conservative nature when it comes to the treatment of women. This comes in the form of limitations in the way they dress, their local rights as well as an assortment of distinctly misogynistic laws focused on ensuring the dominant nature of the local patriarchal society. However, such gender inequality has been frowned upon by the international community due to its current orientation towards the development of equal rights for both men and women. It is due to this perspective that Dubai re-oriented its local culture to be more “internationalized” when it comes to its treatment of women as well as other aspects of its conservative society (Brumberg 56). The end result was a distinct liberalization of the local culture, which created a boom in the adoption of western trends in fashion, ideas, and even foreign culture. This created a cultural backdrop that made Dubai more appealing to western countries resulting in more international companies coming into Dubai in order to setup their offices or to engage in regional/international trade (King 1).

On the other end of the spectrum, countries such as Saudi Arabia which continue to espouse the same conservative culture that most people associate with the Middle East finds itself lacking when it comes to foreign direct investments as well as the entry of foreign firms into its domestic market (Looney 21). Currently, more than 90% of Saudi Arabia’s GDP is dominated by the oil industry with 8 to 9 percent originating from its local industries. This is due to a distinct lack of sufficient local industrialization as well as the absence of international firms that would bring in new manufacturing processes into the culture. The overall lack of entry is attributed to the negative perception that other states and organizations have towards the culture within the country, which they view as being overly conservative.

The difference in the situations between UAE and Saudi Arabia shows how the external perception of a state’s culture can impact its relationship with other states, organizations or even groups of people (Kamrava 57). If external actors were to view the cultural aspects of a state in a more positive light, the more likely they are of engaging in trade agreements, cultural exchange and other positive benefits. This highlights the importance of culture when it comes to the soft power methodology and shows how changes to a state’s internal cultural (as seen in the case of Dubai) can yield significant gains (Joseit 1). From such an assertion it can be assumed that since Qatar is attempting to emulate the success of Dubai, it is likely that it would attempt some means of making its local culture more acceptable to the members of the international community. This aspect will be focused on in the findings and analysis section of this paper, which will delve into the current activities of Qatar and determine how they are in line with the soft power strategies that have been mentioned so far.

The last tool of soft power that will be examined in this section involves the concept of political values and how it is connected to the relationships between states. One of the most poignant examples of the importance of political values can be seen in the case of the U.S. and U.S.S.R when it came to their respective political orientations (i.e. Democracy versus Communism) (Fukuyama 31). Their difference in opinion created a considerable level of tension that manifested itself in the form of the Cold War. This shows that political values does impact the way states interact with one another since states that have opposing political views will likely delve into conflict with one another. In the case of Qatar, the findings and analysis section will attempt to determine what changes the government may have implemented in order to make its political values more in line with an orientation that would encourage good relations instead of adverse interactions.

Direct Application of Soft power

When it comes to the application of soft power, there are a variety of direct and indirect methods in which this can be accomplished. While this definition may seem strange given the earlier assertion that soft power is an indirect means of influencing the actions of other states, there are differences in which soft power as a method of influence can be implemented while still holding true to its original definition. One of the more obvious examples of this in action comes in the form of government assistance programs to other countries or specific organizations (QTA 3). These programs show a “positive side” to a country’s internal and external policy initiatives and are meant to create a good impression on the party, organization or state that it is offered to.

Examples of this can be seen in the various assistance programs that the U.S. gives out to countries that have been adversely affected by natural disasters as well as the Erasmus Mundus scholarship offered by the E.U. to graduate students from European and third world countries. The direct application of economic soft power in this instance is decidedly different from its hard power counter (Hey 9 (b)). The assertion of economic force through hard power can be seen through trade embargos, product restrictions or even economic isolation which a powerful state such as the U.S. can do by virtue of the size of its economy and its level of influence in various global markets. Economic soft power is far more subtle and focuses more on small scale initiatives that create a positive impression (i.e. financial assistance during disasters, scholarships for poor students, etc.) (Grix 299). It is a strategy that is well suited for countries such as Qatar since, by virtue of the size of its economy, it cannot reasonably attempt any form of hard power strategy on the same scale as countries such as U.S. or regional blocks like the E.U.

Indirect Application of Soft power

Aside from the direct application of soft power, there are also indirect methods that often manifest through the “investments” into cultural appeal. One of the most widely known examples of this can be seen in the internationalization of Japan’s culture. Aspects of such a culture in the form of food, anime and manga as well as cultural exchange programs with various countries such as Canada has resulted in many people viewing Japan in a positive light. Investments in culture are not limited to mere cultural exchange programs but can also encompass aspects related to cultural promotion through museums, performances and various travelling exhibits (Kechichian 5). For instance, China has actively been utilizing soft power strategies through the use of its travelling circus of acrobats, martial artists and gymnasts whose performances in various global venues draw considerable audiences (van Ham 3).

In the case of Japan, the internationalization of its “anime culture” has created a literal explosion of interest in the country as seen in the millions of anime and manga fans in the U.S., France and various other countries. Investments into the promotion of local cultural on the international scene can be tied to the concept of perspectives where the more people like the culture of a country that they are being presented with, the more likely they are to have a positive view regarding that state and, as a result, this can manifest into positive ramifications (Hinnebusch 6). For instance, the promotion of Japan’s anime and manga culture as well as aspects related to its unique native foods and cultural nuances is primarily responsible for the sheer amount of international tourists that visit the country on a yearly basis. This application of soft power through culture is similar to how Paris has promoted itself as “the city of love” (Johnston 2).

Aside from this, other aspects of investments in culture resulting in positive perspectives regarding a country can also be seen in the case of museums, investments into the preservation and popularization of ancient architecture as well as the promotion of art and culture sites. Locations such as the National Museum of Natural History in the U.S., the Louvre in France and the Parthenon in Greece act not only as sites that encourage tourism to a country but can be considered as a means of soft power due to the positive perspective they create regarding a particular location (Toumi 1). It should even be noted that soft power through culture is not entirely dependent on pre-existing sites or cultural artifacts but can actually be created in order to boost the positive perspective that people would associate with a certain region or town. One prime example of this is the Cannes Film Festival, which was initially developed through government assistance programs in the development of local cultural initiatives and has since developed into a widely popular tourist event drawing thousands of people and a variety of different actors and actresses (Yom 74). This shows how culture can be utilized as an indirect method of gaining soft power since it increases the knowledge people have of a certain location, their willingness to associate it with something positive which usually translates into positive interactions with not only the local populace but with the local government as well (Panero 21).

Another interesting aspect related to this is connected to the boost in tourism that is also associated with the successful application of this soft power strategy, which translates into considerable boost for the local economy. Do note though that one of the inherent problems with the methods of direct and indirect soft power application that have been mentioned so far is that unlike hard power strategies, there is no absolute guarantee of success (Katz 38). While it is true that not all hard power strategies are successful, as seen in the case of the Vietnam War and the continued existence of North Korea as a rogue state, the fact remains that its application does come with a modicum of success when it comes to the intended outcome (Blatt 34).

For instance, a more powerful country would utilize hard power in the form of exerting its economic strength over a weaker country in order to get the trade concessions that it wants. Thus, the application of power in this case has the possibility of enacting an intended outcome as per the theory of realism and the anarchic nature of states wherein weaker states are often considered “subservient” to the actions of stronger states. However, in the case of soft power strategies, the application of power in this case in order to reach an intended outcome has absolutely no guarantee of success (Henderson 2). For example, a country would apply methods of cultural appeal to one state in the form of a travelling museum or circus performances; it may render financial or medical assistance during periods of calamity and it could offer and assortment of scholarship programs to poor students in that state, yet, despite all these overtures, the application of soft power does not have the same type of “force” needed in order to enact a direct outcome (Transparency International, Corruption Perception Index 1).

Qatar could implement the soft power strategies it just mentioned in order to gain some form of trade relation with the Philippines for instance, however, the decision to carry it out it is still up to the state that is being approached. The application of soft power strategies makes other states more willing to deal with and associate with the state implementing such a strategy but it is in no way an absolute guarantee towards the implementation of a country’s goals (Amara 1). Soft power makes other states more amenable and willing to cooperate with the requests of another state. This shows the inherent limits associated with soft power strategies and will be utilized to evaluate the FIFA World Cup 2022 that will be held in Qatar, the various sponsorships that the state is currently pursuing (i.e. football teams) as well as the cultural events that the state is currently implementing. It is expected that through this evaluation, the success of Qatar’s current endeavors can be properly assessed.

Summary

Based on what has been presented in this section the tone in the findings and analysis section when it comes to understanding why Qatar is acting the way it does. Simply put, soft power is the most viable method that it can implement when it comes to its domestic policy agenda of developing its local economy to be independent from oil and gas. As such, its foreign policy would focus on enhancing its relations with other states, improving the way in which people and organizations viewed Qatar and ensuring a level of prominence that is ascribed to the country by virtue of cultural investments (i.e. museums or cultural attractions) in order to create significant demand towards regional and international tourists visiting the country. It is with this in mind that the next section will investigate these aspects and examine the soft power strategies that Qatar has chosen to achieve its foreign policy objectives.

Sports Diplomacy and Soft Power

Any major sporting event whether it comes in the form of the Olympics, the World Cup or a variety of other events has the advantage of creating substantial economic activity within the country it is hosted in. This is due to the sheer amount of visitors such events draw as well as the greater degree of exposure of the country, which results in better prospects for tourism in the near future (Cornelissen 482). From a soft power perspective, sports diplomacy is a form of direct application of power due to the amount of money invested into what can be described as a government program whose aim is to increase the prestige of the country via a sporting event and this make it better known in the international arena (FIFA 1). One particularly prominent example of this policy in action can be seen in the case of Brazil and South Africa whose respective states, despite having considerable economic problems, have some of the best soccer teams and soccer stadiums in the world which has resulted in both countries gaining fame as well as tourists (Barany 6). The application of sports diplomacy as a soft power strategy centers on the concepts of prominence and financial gain.

Prominence, Sports Diplomacy and Soft Power

Prominence in the realm of soft power is connected to perception which, as explained in the literature review section of this paper, is an important aspect in the soft power methodology since it directly influences how states, organizations and even individuals would be willing to deal with a state (Fromherz 7). While the theory of realism explains that states are the primary actors in international relations, there are also other actors in the field who are just as important to states when it comes to fulfilling the goals of their internal and external policies. This can be seen in the example of Dubai and its focus on developing itself into a trade and tourism hub.

Aside from investing into sports diplomacy in the form of its various venues for sporting events, Dubai has invested considerably in enhancing its reputation as a “playground” for tourists looking to experience unprecedented levels of luxury, comfort and excitement. This is in line with its domestic policy goals of not being dependent on its oil and natural gas wealth due to the finite nature of the consumer product (Crystal 6). Thus, by establishing Dubai as a tourist attraction as well as hub for trade and investment, this creates a certain level of prominence, which affects the relationship that it would have with other states, countries and organizations (Herb 7). Dubai places a considerable emphasis on its relationship with consumers and business groups since the state acknowledges the fact that these two groups are likely to contribute towards the continued prosperity of the city (Kamrava 8 (b)).

A similar strategy is at play in the case of Qatar as seen through its extensive investments into infrastructure development, however, one of the main problems that both Qatar and Dubai are experiencing is the fact that while there has been extensive investments into real estate development, the needed industrial infrastructure that should be in place in order to ensure economic prosperity once the oil or natural gas dries up is still largely absent. Since governments focus on ensuring the continued survival of the state and the main economic resource that Qatar relies on is finite, the primary goal of the country would be to develop some means of addressing the issue (Antwi-Boateng 42). This is where the concept of “prominence” enters into the picture through the soft power tool of sports diplomacy.

In order to attract foreign direct investments into the country as well as bring about some form of industrialization, it would be necessary to make Qatar more appealing to foreign investors (The Guardian 1). The application of soft power utilizing sports culture as a tool enters into the picture as Qatar is actively trying to garner more international attention since it cannot utilize hard power strategies in order to ensure the survival of the state. However, while the utilization of soft power through sports diplomacy is a unique and arguably effective approach, as seen in the case of Brazil and South Africa, the methods currently being utilized by Qatar must be assessed when it comes to their overall effectiveness (Berrebi 421). The benefits accrued through sports diplomacy must last and should not be a onetime occurrence. There must be consistent returns on investment for it to be considered viable.

Financial Gain, Sports Diplomacy and Soft Power

Countries simply do not invest in sports diplomacy simply because they are soccer fans. There must be an underlying benefit that creates a positive result for the state in order for the investment to be justifiable since states are all subject to the fact that the amount of money that they can spend is finite in quantity and that their governments are ultimately held liable by the general public for the type of spending that occurs (Ulrichsen 1). It is due to this that as a direct method of soft power application, the general focus of sports diplomacy is the exchange of money for prominence (Kaufmann 12). Financial gain in this case comes in the form of that prominence directly benefiting the economic goals of a country. Prominence, as an application of soft power, helps to influence the perspective people, organizations and other states towards having a positive outlook regarding a particular country that enables a country to gain the necessary reputation to bring in economic benefits (Kamrava 540 (a)).

This often comes in the form of tourism, foreign direct investments and other similar instances wherein by viewing the country in a positive light, investors and tourists inevitably go there (Worth 7). This was mentioned in the literature review regarding the differences between Saudi Arabia and Dubai and shows how the concept of “perspectives” influences the economic success of a state. Taking all these factors into consideration, it can thus be assumed that sports diplomacy can be considered as a form of advertising that is meant to generate awareness regarding a particular country (Hudson 3). In the case of Qatar and its recent attempts at implementing such a strategy, there are three instances that standout and showcase the use of soft power through sports diplomacy in order to improve bilateral relations while at the same time creating a positive perspective for people regarding the country of Qatar and the Qatari brand. These instances will be discussed in the next section that delves into the sports diplomacy of Qatar and its implementation through sponsorships or direct ownerships of sporting teams.

Sports Diplomacy, Soft Power and Advertising

Utilizing the theory of rational behavior that assumes all states will act rationally towards a particular goal, it can be stated that the use of sports diplomacy by countries will of course attempt to present the product (i.e. themselves) that they are “selling” in the best possible light (Peterson 5). While there are numerous methods of doing this such as traditional print ads or modern viral marketing campaigns, as evidenced by the “Its more fun in the Philippines campaign or the “Malaysia truly Asia” advertisements, some countries opt to take the route of utilizing state funded sponsorships as a method of advertising their country (North and Weingast 803). This often takes the form of having some popular actor, actress or athlete showcase either their support for the product or their use of it in order to entice people to buy the product themselves. In the case of Qatar, this takes the form of its sponsorship of Barcelona F.C (Spain).

The sponsorship of this team allows Qatar to be presented in a positive light to millions of fans as this team has the world’s largest fan base. The application of soft power in this case comes in the form of the indirect method of power application that focuses on developing the awareness of the general public regarding Qatar and the Qatari brand (Rabi 58). This first example of this is the new slogan that was given to the team after the Qatar Airways sponsorship. The partnership became represented by the slogan “A team that unites the world”. This slogan is an example of soft power as it includes Qatar in the identity of the team and promotes both the country and the team as international and multi-cultural. It also indirectly reinforces the message of Qatar as a tourist friendly destination. The idea of the team uniting with the rest of the world with the Qatar Airways association sends a message to audiences about going to Qatar as a tourist destination.

Another example can be seen in the case of the Qatar Airways logo being placed on the jerseys of the team as well as promotional aspects related to Qatar Airways. Every time the team plays, the various logos of Qatar placed on their jersey are seen by the audience, which inevitably creates a connection between the team and the brand being depicted. This is significant because the Qatar Airways logo is not only seen by those watching the Barcelona F.C. games, but is also seen by those consuming other promotional materials like video games. For the past three years, Lionel Messi, the star player of Barcelona F.C., has been on the cover of the EA Sports video game FIFA 2013, 2014 and 2015.

This video game is one of the most successful sports video games in the world and has sold 14.5 million copies in the 2013 (Matulef) and FIFA 2015 is projected to sell 11.3 million copies by March 2015 (Badenhausen). The placement of Messi on the cover of this game while wearing the Barcelona F.C. Jersey with the logo of Qatar Airways on it greatly contributes to Qatar’s soft power and sports diplomacy efforts as the millions of people that play the game will be exposed the Qatari brand and Qatar. This allows the Qatari brand to not only reach millions of people but also those that are not interested in the Spanish football league “La Liga” or the UEFA champions league or even football in general as this game has found success in the overall gaming community.

Lionel Messi also promotes Qatar in other ways including the fact that he broke the record for top scorer in “La Liga’s” history only days before he broke the Union of European Football Association’s (UEFA) top scorer record making him among the leading marksman in the history of the UEFA Champions League. These records haven’t been broken in decades making Messi’s accomplishments unique and rare. He garnered mass international attention for these accomplishments and his photo was published on newspapers, magazines, and throughout the internet. This is significant to Qatar because these historic moments took place with the Qatar Airways logo, giving the Qatari brand more exposure and recognition than usual. Messi’s involvement in the Qatari brand continues beyond football. The Qatari state-owned telecommunication company, Ooredoo, has enlisted Messi as their global brand ambassador. Ooredoo operates in various countries including Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Algeria, Tunisia, Iraq, Palestine, the Maldives, Myanmar, and Indonesia. Qatar is using Messi’s status as a celebrity to promote this company as well as the overall Qatari brand (Ooredoo 1).

The logic behind this particular method of advertising stems from the fact that people are more likely to purchase a product or utilize a particular service if they see someone else happily using it, studies even show that the likelihood of product patronage goes up astronomically if it is seen that a pop culture icon is utilizing a particular type of product (Korany, Dessouki and Hillal 11). This speaks volumes of the influence of pop culture on consumer buying behavior as well as consumer choice. From a soft power perspective, the use of sponsorships for sports teams is a way in which a country can get its name out there and create a certain level of familiarity (Losman 4). For countries like Qatar whose foreign policy goals are oriented towards ensuring the independence of the state from oil and gas and a greater focus on industrial development, garnering attention for the country in order to generate more interest from foreign firms is an absolute necessity and helps to explain its actions when it comes to sponsoring sports teams like Barcelona F.C.

Aside from sponsoring a team, there is also the instance where Qatar has actually purchased a soccer team as seen in the case of its ownership of Paris Saint-Germain “PSG” (France). The ownership of this team displays Qatar’s soft power as it serves as an entry point into the French culture and international French speakers/audiences. To understanding the reasons behind the purchase, it is important to analyze it from the perspective of a soft power methodology as well as a public relations perspective in relation to pop culture and its influence on the general population (Brannagan and Giulianotti 23). Various forms of consumable media in the form of print ads, billboards, commercials, online marketing campaigns and a plethora of other types of advertising initiatives are rife with the images of various popular individuals showing just how prevalent product endorsements are in the advertising campaigns of numerous companies (Global Integrity Report 3).

Of particular interest is the concept of sports marketing and how consumer patronage of particular sports brands are affected by the relationship between sponsorships and advertisements. Sports marketing can be defined as “the activities of consumer and industrial product and service marketers who are increasingly using sport as a promotional vehicle”. In other words, there has been an ongoing and increasingly expanding trend where countries utilize sports as a manner in which they promote their country (Cordesmann 31). What must be understood is that through the dynamics of public interest in pop culture that extends into the realm of sports, people become increasingly fascinated with various sports stars to such an extent that they attempt to emulate them in every way possible (Herb 41).

These results in them buying sports jerseys in the same style and color as their favorite athlete, buy products that particular athletes use and even consume the same type of drink they see an athlete drinking (Evans and Grant 4). All of this confirms the inherent notion that if a particular athlete is using it then it must be good (El-Nawawy and Iskander 12). Companies exploit this by utilizing sponsorships in the form of endorsement deals by having certain athletes always and only use their particular brand. Notable examples of this can be seen through athletes such as Michael Jordan and his endorsement deal with Nike which led up to the creation of the Air Jordan sneaker brand, Manny Pacquiao and his varied endorsement deals with Nike and Gillette and lastly Tiger Words and his association with nearly hundreds of brands the most notable of which was Nike (Norris 2).

The result of these endorsements has been to bring the branding and knowledge of the product beyond what can be seen in advertisements and print ads lending it an extra sense of credibility since audiences always see their favorite athletes utilizing that particular brand (Nauright 1325). When it comes to the application of soft power and sports diplomacy, it is the level of association between a particular sporting celebrity and the sponsor that creates the positive correlation that the state applying soft power tactics is after. As mentioned in the literature review, soft power is inherently connected to the concept of perception and, as such, brand correlation through a sports celebrity does create the level of association that would be considered as beneficial. In the case of PSG, the brand association is not limited to a single sports star but rather applies to the team as a whole (Khatib 417). The purchase of a French soccer team in this instance is done not only because of sports diplomacy (i.e. developing a better relationship between Qatar and France).

It is due to this that a level of positive association is created which aids significantly in building up the Qatari brand. What this example shows is that sports diplomacy in the form of sponsorships and team ownership can be utilized as a form of cultural soft power yet in this case the focus is not on the inherent culture of the country itself, rather, it focuses on the sporting culture that is being focused upon (i.e. soccer) and utilizing in order to create a better global perception regarding Qatar as a whole (Fandy 13).

The ownership of PSG is done as a means of advertising the existence of Qatar and brings greater attention to the country, which could result in long-term economic gains in the form of foreign direct investments, tourism as well as an assortment of other possible benefits (Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2). Before proceeding, another factor that should be noted is that investing in the sports teams of other countries can also be considered as a form of indirect soft power implementation since it creates better relations between the two states. This particular aspect will be delved into the next section involving the sponsorship of Qatar in an Arab soccer team (Beaumont 3).

One of the more interesting sponsorships that Qatar has entered into involves the AlAhli soccer team in Saudi Arabia. What makes this compelling to examine from a soft power methodology point of view is that this is the only Arab team Qatar is sponsoring and the fact that it is a Saudi Arabian team makes it interesting as Saudi and Qatar have a strenuous relationship with many ups and downs. To understand why Qatar is doing so, it is important to look at it from a direct soft power perspective. Instead of a government assistance program helping another state, it takes the form of a sponsorship program (Pattison 1).

For instance, if through the sponsor program AlAhli were to win several matches, this would creative positive national sentiment within Saudi Arabia, which in turn would greatly benefit Qatar as well due to the association with the team. This would go a long way towards improving the strenuous relationship between the two countries. Going back to the information presented in the literature review regarding the focus of soft power on developing the image of a country, it can be seen that the actions of Qatar when it comes to AlAhli is simply a manifestation of its desire to place itself in a better regional position. Conflict with a neighboring country would not aid in the slightest when it comes to improving the condition of the state, however, improving the relationship it has with its neighbors could result in trade agreements, higher amounts of tourists and other positive bilateral and multilateral benefits that come with pursuing such an action (Rathmell and Schulze 10).

As such, when reviewing the domestic policies of Qatar in relation to removing its dependence on oil and natural gas with issues related to foreign policy objectives of establishing itself as a hub for tourism and trade like Dubai, it makes sense that Qatar would utilize the soft power strategy of sports diplomacy in order to improve its relations not only with its regional neighbors but also with various countries that it perceives as being beneficial towards the long term goals of the country.

Issues with Qatar’s Strategy

When it comes to the application of soft power, negative connotations being associated with it must not be an end result. That said, there are several issues regarding Qatar’s strategy involving sports diplomacy that should be taken into consideration (Zahlan 13). The first are allegations of employee abuse stemming from various construction workers stating that they are under paid, overworked and are subject to deplorable living conditions. There are also other issues related to the corruption allegations from contractors hired to finish the stadiums and buildings where guests would be staying for the FIFA World Cup 2022. The inherent problem with the issues that have just been mentioned is that they take away from how Qatar is presenting itself to the international community. Since soft power is heavily dependent on how a state is perceived, allegations of corruption and worker abuse would significantly detract from the overall impression countries would have towards Qatar (Abadi 11).

However, it should also be noted that allegations involving corruption and worker abuse are actually quite common when it comes to the buildup surrounding sporting events and it is due to this that while the image of Qatar has been tarnished, it has not been significantly impacted to the extent that people would not attend the event (Nye 34 (b)). For instance, the build up to the Sochi Winter Olympics also had similar problems in the form of the annexation of Crimea by Russia as well as allegations involving corruption and worker abuse during the construction of the Olympic village. However, the event still went on without significant problems though there were a few boycotts done by athletes that were opposed to both the annexation of Crimea as well as the viewpoint of Russia regarding homosexuals.

Another issue that have tarnished some the of soft power efforts by Qatar’s World Cup 2022 campaign is the weather in the summer. Many have criticized Qatar and voiced concern over how hot the weather will be during the tournament and have even used it as a reason to question Qatar’s ability to host such an event. In response, Qatar has been developing a cooling system to accommodate all the fans from all over the world in their top of the line stadiums. For the Brazil World Cup 2014, Qatar tested their cooling system in open-air “fan-zones” where football fans could gather and watch the matches (Arabian Industry 1). According to multiple articles and accounts, those that watched the matches in the fan-zones were very pleased with the performance of the cooling system. The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, who are responsible for developing the cooling system, was very pleased with the test run as 10,000 spectators visited the open-air fan zone did not encounter any complaints. They considered this trial run a success and will use this technology to cool various parts of the stadiums and fan walkways.

Aim of Qatar’s Sports Strategy

Through an analysis of the work of Brannagan and Giulianotti which delved into Qatar’s foreign policy, it was determined that the aim behind Qatar’s sports strategy was in line with the country’s desire to entertain multiple parties yet not be committed to a single outright disposition. What this means is that Qatar’s sports strategy focuses on its desire to act as a “gateway” so to speak for the Arab world to connect with the larger players in the international scene. Qatar’s domestic policy endeavors are similar to other states such as Abu Dhabi and Dubai in that it is attempting to “globalize” itself into becoming a hub for tourism, trade and business developments (Brannagan and Giulianotti 32). However, in the case of Qatar and its football investments, its actions are focused on creating the impression that it is more “internationalized” and has a greater connection with other global powers as compared to other states within the Middle East. What this strategy entails is that Qatar wants to be perceived as a means by which other states within the Middle East can reach out to other global players and in effect enrich themselves through trade partnerships and other forms of economic and political gain.

Qatar’s role in this case acts as a “go-between” so to speak wherein states within the Middle East would partner with Qatar in order to gain access to its contacts and levels of perceived influence with the international community (Abadi 14). Such a strategy would greatly enrich the company since through the use of strategic partnerships with a variety of states within the Middle East, Qatar would have access to liquid capital, human resources and abundance of natural resource wealth. This particular strategy is in line with its security doctrine of maintaining a balance with its various relations and more powerful nations which would enable Qatar to strategically poise itself as a hub for trade, development and interaction within the Middle East (Antwi-Boateng 40). For instance, its investments into the football stadiums is in part a means of better connecting and associating itself with the various countries and organizations within Europe and helps to better support the notion that Qatar can act as an effective mediator and trade partner for countries in the Middle East looking to expand their endeavors into other countries (Antwi-Boateng 44).

Evidence supporting this assertion comes in the form of the numerous investments in international real estate that Qatar has been making in order access a variety of global markets as well as the fact that there are plans set by Qatar to continue to host more soccer matches and international events within the country in order to further highlight its desire to be recognized as the “go to” location so speak for brokering business deals between countries and organizations in the Middle East and those in the world at large (Beaumont 3). When evaluating such a strategy, it does make sense from a soft power perspective since positioning itself as a needed hub for trade and industry would create a considerable level of credibility for the country despite its lack of a strong military or an economy as large as the U.S. and China. One example that could potentially be the aim that Qatar would be after comes in the form of Singapore and its relationship with the other members of A.S.E.A.N. While the nation is relatively small (only a few hundred kilometers) and has little in the way of natural resources, it has become a trading and financial hub within the region with many countries such as Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia developing strong ties with the country due to its nature as a financial center in South East Asia (Gause 15).

Other potential examples that Qatar may attempt to emulate comes in the form of Hong Kong wherein, despite its relatively small size, is considered one of the wealthiest provinces in the world with a robust financial and trade system that handles billions of dollars in trade in a daily basis. Through the use of a soft power strategy involving sports diplomacy, Qatar is attempting to emulate the success of these hubs. While this strategy has a great deal of merit, it has yet to be seen as to whether or not it may become successful in the future. When looking at Qatar’s strategy on three fronts, namely: fronts (1) Barcelona, (2) PSG ownership, and (3) hosting mega events (specifically the World Cup 2022), it becomes immediately obvious that these are the first few tentative steps that the country was taking in relation to its end goal. The success of these ventures will determine the steps that Qatar will be taking in the future and whether its long term plans could become successful.

Scandals and the World Cup

While it has been established so far that the World Cup is the beginning of Qatar’s attempt to become a hub of trade and industry within the Middle East by making itself seem more connected to the rest of the world, the fact remains that there are several issues that detract from its attempt and could potentially damage the reputation of Qatar to such an extent that its attempts at utilizing soft power tactics in the form of sports diplomacy could potentially backfire. The first issue that should be noted is related to the bribery scandals currently surrounding Qatar’s World Cup bid. Various members of the FIFA committee that were charged with the responsibility of finding an appropriate location for the world cup were accused of receiving significant bribes in order for Qatar to be chosen as the location(Brannagan and Grix 4).

There are several factors that are in support of this related to testimony from various sources as well as the fact that Qatar itself is not well known as being a hub for soccer and only recently started constructing the needed stadiums in order to house the World Cup. The inherent problem with the bribery allegations is that it paints Qatar in a bad light and seriously compromises the states’ capacity to properly utilize soft power tactics. Simply put, the actions damaged Qatar’s credibility not only to the world at large but also at a regional level. While it can be stated that there is no solid proof and that in a few years time this particular scandal may simply blow over, there is still the potential for the issue to negatively impact Qatar’s relations with various states that had a vested interest (i.e. wanting to host the World Cup themselves) yet were beaten due to underhanded tactics. Aside from issues stemming from the bribery scandal there have been allegations for workers being abused during the construction of the various stadiums for the World Cup. Accusations of cramped living conditions, unreasonable hours, low pay and an assortment of similar issues have been brought up against the Qatari government (Brannagan and Grix 3). These accusations can actually be considered far worse than the accusations of bribery since they can be considered as almost criminal in nature given their adverse impact on the workers.

Further analysis of the issue reveals that there has been a considerable amount of negative sentiment being generated aimed at Qatar for such actions; however, there have been no serious boycotts announced which creates the potential that these accusations can be “swept under the rug” so to speak. Despite this, Qatar’s credibility has been tarnished to a certain extent yet it is still uncertain as to whether or not this could result in negative long-term repercussions. Henderson points towards the fickle nature of the media and how “past sins” tend to fade in light of successes. (Henderson 4) It is based on this that there is both the potential for the corruption allegations and the worker abuse to undo the credibility that Qatar has been attempting to build up internationally but there is also the possibility that there would be no long term repercussions. It is only after the World Cup and the subsequent implementation of its foreign policy agenda that the end result of Qatar’s actions can be seen.

Perception of the Arab World towards Qatar’s Initiatives

It is interesting to note that there are mixed reactions to the case of Qatar in the Arab world. First off, when it comes to Qatar’s actions involving he worker abuse, the fact is that several states in the Middle Eat (ex: Dubai, Abu Dhabi, etc.) have all been accused of similarly abusing their construction workforce and, as such, it would be hypocritical of them to start slandering Qatar over such an issue when they are also guilty of it. On the other hand, their perception regarding the allegation scandals involving the World Cup are mixed between exasperation and condemnation with various heads of governments within the Middle East (King 11). However, there has been little in the way of outright action leveled against Qatar by its neighbors (ex: boycotting, trade embargos, etc.).

The various states within the Middle East continue to treat Qatar in the same way, albeit with a greater level of hesitation due to the various issues that were just mentioned. Aside from this, Qatar’s attempts at “internationalization” have been viewed with a considerable level of skepticism in light of its security doctrine. Simply put, while the Arab world knows what Qatar is doing, the fact remains that its “maverick” actions in discreetly supporting various militant groups within the Middle East has not endeared the state to the rest of the Arab world and, as such, this seriously compromises the potential effectiveness of its plan to become a hub of trade and investment (King 12). This is due to the fact that it is difficult to enter into a partnership with an entity/organization that you do not trust or have serious misgivings about.

Impact of Branding on Qatar’s Foreign Policy Standing

When it comes to Messi or Barcelona’s worth for Qatar, it is important to note that the main goal of all marketing campaigns to entice consumers to purchase a particular product or service by virtue of the way in which the company promotes it. In this case, the focus is on how Qatar promotes itself to both in the international community and its potential regional partners in the Middle East (Kamrava 543). Utilizing the theory of rational behavior that assumes all companies will act rationally towards a particular goal, it can be stated that the campaign of Qatar will of course attempt to present itself in the best possible light. Sponsorship and agreements between states and sports franchises helps to generate positive public opinion regarding a brand, which results in better public reception.

For instance, the case of Chevrolet and Major League Baseball is an example that shows how effective corporate sponsorship agreements are in not only improving brand image by correlating the success and positive ethical behavior of a sports team with the brand that sponsors them (Kamrava 548). As a result, this enhances the reputation of the sponsoring entity through the process of correlation wherein people begin to associate particular sport franchises with the brands that sponsor them. This particular method of association is seen in the case of Qatar, Messi and Barcelona, which associates brand values with brand identity. In a sense, what occurs in the case of Qatar’s sponsorships and branding is that the values associated with the person/franchise that is being sponsored is transferred to that of the sponsoring entity which in effect becomes a type of brand identity. This can be utilized to great effect in the case of Qatar wherein it can associate its brand with a responsible, successful and popular sports athlete or even an athletic team, which in turn would it to improve our brand image through identity association.

Negative Consequences of the World Cup Bid

On the surface, it may be assumed that there are no negative consequences associated with the World Cup bid of Qatar, however, when analyzing the potential ramifications from an economic and geopolitical standpoint, it can be seen that it is actually an extremely risky move on the part of Qatar. The first potential negative issue lies in the fact that there is little in the way of absolute certainty that the country would be able to make back the amount it paid for the world cup (this will be explored in more detail in the next section). Qatar is in effect spending billions of dollars in constructing the various stadiums needed, however, after the World Cup is over, there is little in the way of substantial local competition to justify the expense of construction. Aside from this, from a geopolitical perspective, the accusations leveled against Qatar due to the bribery scandal surrounding the World Cup bid as well as accusations involving issues with the workers who were building the stadiums could create a substantial negative backlash aimed at the country which could result in boycotts and negative press. Lastly, though Qatar has been known to “play all sides” so to speak when it comes to its security doctrine, there is the very real possibility that due to its association with the U.S. and various coalition forces from Europe, the venue could become a target for terrorist activity, though it is unlikely.

Examining Factors Related to the Local Economy and the World Cup 2022

Ordinarily, hosting FIFA world Cup 2022 would not be a problem if there was sufficient local demand which offsets the costs involved in construction of new hotels, resorts, roads and stadiums for the expected 400,000 guests that will arrive (Zayani 42). However, when assessing the current situation of Qatar the obvious problem with its current investment into sports diplomacy lies in the fact that Qatar has a population of approximately 1,800,000 people and, as such, local demand for the new infrastructure developments would be quite low after the 2022 World Cup (Alsharekh 32). One way of seeing this in action is through the supply and demand illustration in Figure 1.

Demand Slope.
Figure 1: Demand Slope.

It is assumed that at the start of 2022 World Cup the demand on Qatar’s infrastructure developments will be placed at 550,000 units (400,000 predicted foreign guests and 150,000 local visitors). The supply in this particular graph will be set at a constant 550,000 thousand estimated real estate units based on the possibility that Qatar will have sufficient infrastructure capabilities to match demand. At the beginning (meaning during the World Cup) there is a perfect equilibrium between demand and supply however after the World Cup the 400,000 thousand visitors will leave (The International Relations of the Persian Gulf 1). Unfortunately this will result in 550,000 real estate units supply, which are permanent fixtures within the local economy (DOHA 2012 2). While initially there is a certain degree of demand within the economy from local and foreign sources, the fact remains that the law of diminishing marginal utility states that eventually there will be a gain or loss from the continued consumption of a particular unit of supply and this takes the form of diminishing demand within the graph. However, unlike other types of supply, real estate developments last much longer and are not exactly “consumed” in the traditional manner (i.e. hotel rooms, apartments for rent etc.) as such these remain constant.

From the graph it can be seen that there will be insufficient local and foreign demand to match the supply of real estate units created within Qatar and as a result this would cause considerable problems within the local economy immediately after the event (Nonneman 4). This takes the form of the sheer amount of leftover apartments that will not have sufficient local demand to actually meet the oversupply (Browne and Geiger 75). While it is true that the local government has stated that the remaining real estate units can be absorbed into the local economy due to the eventual increase in demand, history has proven that such a way of thinking is highly flawed.

For instance, when examining the recently concluded Winter Olympics that were held in Sochi, Russia the various apartments and buildings that were constructed specifically for the event and were supposed to create a new resort town in the area have largely been abandoned (Gengler and Tessler 4). The same pattern can be seen in the various venues and real estate developments that have been oriented specifically towards sports diplomacy (i.e. the Olympics) in cases such as Greece, China, the U.S. and the U.K. wherein venues, apartment buildings and stadiums have largely gone unused after the event has been over. It is also important to point out that some of these countries, where this aspect of soft power has been implemented, have large industrial bases and have significant population levels. However, despite these advantages there is a constant trend in unused real estate (Atkinson 29).

Examining the Decision Making Process

During Qatar’s campaign for the bid to host the 2022 World Cup, they hired two international football stars and coaches, Pep Guardiola and Zenadine Zidane. This strategy is in line with the Qatar’s overall public relations and soft power strategy where they used celebrities to promote the image of Qatar. By having the endorsement and public support of these two football legends, the public is more likely to accept and even encourage the idea of Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup.

When examining the bid of Qatar, it can be stated that this is the country’s attempt at presenting itself as a global destination for business and tourism. The problem with this though is the fact that Dubai, which is quite close to Qatar, has already attempted this strategy with billions poured into infrastructure development culmination in the creation of the Palm islands, the World Islands and the Burj Al Arab (Dargin 7). Since the strategy of Qatar is basically an emulation of what was done in Dubai, it is a chance that it will not be able to succeed given the fact that tourists could just go to Dubai which has a far more established reputation as compared to Qatar (Brannagan, In’utu and Wolff 1). Furthermore, as evidenced by other countries that have hosted sporting events such as the Olympics and other World Cups, the money poured into the development of event locations is often not profitable (Ehteshami and Wright 913). Based on the various arguments presented, it can be seen that while the 2022 World Cup will bring substantial amounts of profit for various local businesses during the tournament, it can be expected that after it is over, the sheer amount of hyped up infrastructure development without sufficient localized demand can and will result in problems for Qatar’s economy in the near future.

Impact of Qatar in the International Art Market

The case of Qatar in its expansion into the international art scene can be considered as being comparable to small infantile steps meant to enhance Qatar’s overall presence yet not quite being able to do so successfully. The implementation of various art related projects (which will be discussed in the next section) are actually a part of its plan to increase its regional credibility and importance by making the country not only a hub for trade and investment, but would also act as a cultural center. This application of soft power would enable the country to create a far better image of itself which would help to ensure its capacity to continue to influence people and other states in the future. While the current impact of Qatar can be considered as being rather minimal, this does not mean that its influence will not expand in the future.

Soft Power Through Arts and Culture

Qatar Museums (QM) is the organization charged with the responsibility of collecting and preserving art in the country. The organization’s sole purpose is to be a cultural instigator for the creation generation (Gengler and Tessler 5). The organization achieves these goals by facilitating the collaboration of the different museums and heritage centers in the country. The vision of the organization is to promote sustainable development in Qatar’s cultural sector while at the same time maintaining the highest standards. The organization acquires most of the arts within Qatar. The government of Qatar, through this organization, encourages the participation of citizens and is responsible for running the museums in the country.

Other aspects of soft power in practice can be seen in the actions of Sheikha AlMayassa, sister to the ruling Emir of Qatar who heads Qatar Museums. She was dubbed as the number one most powerful person in the art world in 2013 by Art Review and as a top ten contender in the contemporary art world’s most powerful figures (Kechichian 5). She has been instrumental in the purchases and acquisition of artworks displayed in most of Qatar’s museums. Through art, QM plays a great role in promoting Qatar’s soft power as it achieves this through the presentation of Qatar as a progressive nation to the western world. By making the country into a cultural and sports center for the region, this makes it seem more viable for foreign direct investments from international firms as compared to a country that may have oil and natural gas wealth but has little in the way of international fame or something that makes it stand out from other countries in the region (Rattling Governments and Redefining Modern Journalism 32). Furthermore, through the preservation of both national and foreign arts, Qatar has also been able to fulfill part of its targeted 2030 development goals.

QM also organizes special art exhibitions, which are often in collaboration with artists from the country (Gengler and Tessler 5). However, sometimes QM will host events with artists from other countries or hold events in collaboration with other countries. For example, QM holds a cultural exhibition every year with a different country called the “Years of Culture”. For 2014, Qatar collaborated with Brazil to create the Brazil-Qatar Year of Culture, which took place in the Museum of Islamic Art annually. Dignitaries from both countries attend the cultural event to witness the two diverse societies showcase their cultures. This plays an important role in promoting the country’s soft power. Qatar takes advantage of the increased media coverage to showcase their culture in a positive manner.

Not only will the media present Qatar as an international-friendly place but it will also allow the media from the collaborating country to bring in a positive aspect of Qatar to that country’s media and audience. As a result of such activities, Qatar’s art and culture has been able to find its way into the international stage. By showcasing Qatar as a culturally diverse country, the government will be in a position to change any negative perception that the rest of the world might have. The event also serves as a platform that facilitates cultural exchange programs between the two countries. It attracts people from other countries into Qatar to take part in this exhibition and creates an opportunity for Qatar to work and interact with a many different parts of governments and agencies of the collaborating countries. By doing this Qatar is able to establish a relationship and bilateral relations with more than just the Foreign Ministries in other countries.

The concept of the application of soft power through arts and culture when it comes to Qatar and the development of a Museum of Islamic Art is based on the concept of perception. However, in this case it is supplemented by the importance people ascribe to a particular location and how this influences their opinion. For instance, the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) has been instrumental in enabling Qatar to use Culture and Art as a tool of soft power. Through the help of MIA, Qatar is able to showcase a vast collection of artwork that is testament to the diversity, vitality, and complexity exhibited by art obtained from the Islamic world (Heritage Foundation 1).

This collection of art creates a certain level of perceived cultural significance where the location of a museum devoted to the art of an entire culture makes it important and creates the desire for people to ascribe a certain level of respect for the hosts (Kinninmont 5). The most obvious example of this in action can be seen in the case of the Louvre in Paris as its distinction as one of the greatest repositories of European art has resulted in a considerable level of fame and importance being placed not only on the Louvre but on Paris since it is considered one of the cultural centers of the region and the world (Agha 14). Similarly to the Louvre, MIA strives to become the leading institution on Islamic art globally. This is being accomplished through the quality of the museums and its exhibitions but also through the fact that it will be the most comprehensive collection of Islamic art in the world. Furthermore, QM hired I. M. Pie, the architect of the Louvre, to design the MIA building (Arabian Business 1).

Financially, building MIA has considerable amounts of benefits in the form of investors more willing to invest in a location that is well known which helps to ensure that the country continues to prosper due to foreign direct investments (O’Donnell 34). It is based on this that when examining the case of Qatar and its investment into a museum specifically for Islamic Art, they are attempting a form of cultural soft power in order to emulate the success of the Louvre and other similar cultural institutions in order to attract more people and investments into Qatar.

The Mathaf Museum, also commonly referred to as the Arab Museum of Modern Art is also a component of QM. The facility showcases a collection of contemporary and modern art obtained from the Arab world. It also hosted the 2014 Annual Conference of the International Committee of the International Council of Museums (CIMAM). Officials attend this annual conference from museums across the world that have an interest in collections of contemporary and modern artworks. The conference offers these officials with a chance to meet with other likeminded individuals and aims to foster cooperation between various museums internationally (Global Integrity Report 4). Attendants also enjoy cultural exchange programs.

Since attendants of the conference are normally from different countries, Qatar seeks to pass on various aspects of its culture to the rest of the world (Khatib 3). A number of positive outcomes are expected from the cultural exchange program. To begin with, participants disseminate information surrounding their experience in Qatar upon their return home. Secondly, the country’s culture and art can be displayed and seen by participants, which is especially important since those that attend the conference are some the art world’s most influential and well-respected officials. This effort assists Qatar’s goal to be among the world’s most prestigious cultural hubs as it is displaying its accomplishments in the art field to the art world’s elite and who opinions are very respected. This is significant because it raises Qatar’s profile and helps it reach its soft power goals.

Another museum by QM that is currently under construction is the 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum. As described on its website, this museum will house interactive exhibits and objects dedicated to sports and Olympic history and knowledge. Although this museum has not been completed, Its creation is significant to Qatar’s soft power strategies as it combines its sports diplomacy and public diplomacy through arts and culture. Qatar is diversifying their strategy and using an established institution to promote their image as a cultural hub but also as a global leader in sports.

Qatar Tourism Authority

Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) is a national agency charged with the responsibility of promoting tourism activities within the country. The authority seeks to achieve this through marketing Qatar as a world-class tourist hub. To achieve this, the authority seeks to use the country’s diverse culture and heritage to market it in the international platform. Through the marketing efforts, QTA serves as a source of soft power for the country (Herb 43(a)). The reason behind this is that marketing strategies seek to emphasize on the positive aspects of something. The QTA has for this reason in many occasions been seen to increase the country’s influence in the world by showcasing it as a desirable and modern nation. With the success of QTA in marketing Qatar as a favorable tourist destination, there will be an influx of tourists in the country, which will also attract foreign investments.

In order to promote tourism, QTA engages the stakeholders. The authority consults widely to come up with the best strategy that will favor all key market players. It is important to note that tourism plays a major role in the economic growth of the country (Herb 5). As such, the performance of the tourism sector affects nearly all the other sectors in the economy. The strategies and policies adopted by QTA should therefore be considered favorable for the growth of other sectors. The authority will help the country to exercise soft power (Worth 7). Through consultation with other sectors, QTA is viewed to be practice public democracy through the adoption of the strategy that best favors all players. Although the Qatari political system is not a democracy, the country does not encourage unfair business practices. Therefore. Qatar will also be able to attract followers, as well as investors.

Katara Cultural Village

Katara Cultural Village was established in 2010 and is often describes as the custodian of the country’s culture. It hosts a large number of tourists annually who come to sample the country’s culture (Joseit 7). The establishment of Katara village has over the past three years been viewed to confer soft power to Qatar. Through increased numbers of tourists who move into the country to enjoy its culture, Qatar will be in a better position to influence the way the world perceives it.

Katara Cultural Village is also associated with world-class cultural facilities. It contains modern infrastructure, such as theatres, amphitheaters, museum, and art galleries. The infrastructure is seen to play a major role in the improvement of the quality of services offered to both local and foreign tourist (Hvidt 5). A number of events are held by Qatar to showcase to the world its diverse culture.

Some of these events include film festivals such as the Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF), which was an annual event, hosted by the Qatari capital from 2010-2012. The event initially took place for 5 days but the duration was changed to 8 days in 2011 following an increase in the number of participants. The Doha Film Institute (DFI) organized the event, which was founded by Sheikha Mayassa with the sole purpose of stimulating the growth of the Qatari film industry (Grix 298). Over 50 films were showcased during the event and thousands of audiences converged in Qatar to sample different films that are of Arab origin. By hosting this activity, Qatar was viewed as promoting the development of film production in the Arab countries (Kinninmont 3). As such, the rest of the world was able to perceive Qatar as a progressive country that seeks to empower its neighbors. By hosting the event, Qatar is seen to be facilitating the growth of the sector not only at domestic level but also at the international scene through the presence of local, regional and international media. The collaboration between Doha and Tribeca also brings an internationally recognized and respected name to Qatar adding to its image and an international cultural hub.

The Ministry of Culture, Arts, and Heritage

The department of culture and arts of Qatar was established in 1975. Initially, the department was seen as the subordinate of other government ministries (Rabi 7). However, in mid 2008, the ruling Emir made a decree that created the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage. This ministry was charged with the responsibility of organizing cultural events and festivities with other countries that enjoyed a good relationship with Qatar. It was also expected to organize shows whereby Qatar and other countries would be in a position to showcase their songs, folktales, and theatre as well as cultural exhibitions both within the country and abroad.

The ministry has also been charged with the responsibility of gathering and documenting information concerning the country’s heritage (Heritage Foundation 6). The information is then published and distributed across the world to interested audiences. The ministry has achieved this by organizing the Doha book fair. The officials of the ministry also represent the country in similar book fairs held across the globe. Through such events, Qatar is able to use soft power strategies, such as marketing itself to the western world as a progressive state (Ulrichsen 5).

The country has also been able to organize religious, scientific, and cultural contests and symposia with the help of the ministry (Henderson 4). Through such activities, the country is seen to be investing on the symposia and contests to offer its population and the international community an opportunity to explore cultural, artistic and intellectual subjects.

Potential Impact of International Culture on Qatar

In the case of international culture, what occurs is a state of cultural imposition wherein local cultural predilection, values, behaviors even methods of speaking are imposed on a local people resulting in a deterioration of the local culture. The effects of cultural imposition and cultural influences on local populations as a result of influences brought on not only by foreign worker influences but the manner in which local cultures change in order to be more “acceptable” in the eyes of the international community, radically changes the mannerisms that subsequent generations adopt within that society.

Taking this into consideration, it can be seen that the impact of international culture on Qatar can be likened to a type of cultural shift wherein through imposition and subsequent assimilation, old cultural behaviors, values, and various aspects unique to the Qatar’s culture are in effect repressed or removed in favor of the ideas, notions and cultural styling of the international community. Based on this, it is at times questioned whether internationalization and tourism truly benefit certain countries in that local cultures are subject to an international standard that may or may not be reflection of how their culture developed.

From a certain perspective, it can be seen that internationalization in effect helps cultures become more “in line” with the global perspective of how the world chooses to view them. Not only that, there is also the issue of advances in architecture and technology transfer that also occur as a result of culture sharing as seen in the case of architecture within Qatar which has begun to follow Western stylistic designs. On the other hand, the sheer cultural decay that happens does not seem to be quite as worth it as history has made it out to be. It is based on this that it can be seen that there are benefits accrued as a result of internationalization, but such benefits are often clouded by the adverse cultural effects that international cultures has on local areas and people.

Positive Impact of Foreign Workers on Tourism

It should be noted that despite all the negative ramifications that the influx of foreign workers has had on the cultural traditions of the UAE, this does not mean that there have not been some significant social effects as well. One of the positive effects of having a diverse workforce is that it makes the region more acceptable in the eyes of tourists since the number of workers from different countries would enable foreigners to speak to someone who comes from the same region as them. A greater number of tourists means higher income levels for local hotels, shops and other assorted businesses which in turn creates a considerable degree of prosperity. Festivals within the Philippines which are sponsored by local councils often bring tourists as far away as the U.S., Europe and Canada which creates a subsequent influx in tourism income to the various businesses located within that area. The reason this is being brought up is due to its potential to help Qatar rival the various tourism destinations such as Spain, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Tunisia, Turkey, Croatia and Egypt.

Conclusion

When going over the case of Qatar and its application of soft power through the use of sports diplomacy and culture as a means of improving its profile in the international arena, this paper has shown that while the strategy does have a considerable level of merit, there are some issues that need to be taken into consideration. The first of these issues is connected to the cost associated with the construction of roads, stadiums, and apartment buildings for the FIFA 2022 World Cup. While it is true that some forms of monetary investments are needed in the case of sports diplomacy, the fact remains that nearly $300 billion has been spent by Qatar in order to prepare itself for the World Cup. The inherent problem with this is that while it would definitely prepare the country, there are still questions regarding the long-term viability of the plan. Simply put, there is no guarantee that the constructed facilities will continue to garner the attention that Qatar is after. First and foremost, there are the several dozen apartment buildings that are being converted into hotels being placed in and around the various stadiums that are being built. After the World Cup is over, the demand for using the apartments would effectively be reduced to a very small percentage.

Another factor to take into consideration is Qatar’s limited population and that it is unlikely that all of them would wish to own an apartment near a football stadium. Thus, when combining these two factors together, it becomes immediately obvious that the sheer amount of investment into developing apartment buildings near the football stadiums would fail due to the lack of local demand. While Qatar may be banking on increased demand into local real estate once its international profile has increased due to its investment into sports diplomacy, there is still no guarantee that this will immediately occur. One issue is cost versus utility surrounding the stadiums themselves. The long-term viability of the stadiums is in question given the lack of a substantial local fan base for football in the country. This paper would like to assert that while football is popular in Qatar, it is nowhere near as popular nor as prevalent as compared to its popularity in Western European countries. This means that the number of football games with a significant audience would likely be minimal for games held within Qatar. In terms of sustainability, the football stadiums are unlikely to be utilized extensively beyond their current role in 2022. Qatar could potentially offset this by sponsoring multiple football matches between different teams within the country. Utilizing sports diplomacy without any significant plan to ensure long-term viability cannot be considered as a success in any sense of the word.

It should be noted though that aside from the FIFA World Cup, Qatar’s other endeavors in sports diplomacy could be considered as a success. Its investments into various sports teams around the world have enabled it to forge good relationships with other countries and this has contributed significantly towards improving its status in the international arena. Aside from this, the use of cultural investments as a soft power tactic is also quite interesting and should help in increasing the profile of Qatar as well. However, it may take a considerable amount of time before this comes into fruition.

Stability within a region often coincides with strong economic and domestic policies that create an ideal environment wherein businesses and various industries can operate without fear of sudden destabilizing economic events. In order to attract foreign direct investments it would be necessary to develop a strong yet viable local workforce. The inherent problem with this thought process is that Qatar simply does not have a sufficient local population to be able to create a sufficiently capable workforce. It is based on this that one possible means of getting around the problem would be to increase the quality of the workforce within the country instead of attempting to increase the quantity. This would come in the form of sponsoring local college graduates into highly specialized technical courses. The end result would be the creation of a highly intelligent and professional workforce that would draw companies into the region due to the amount of talent in the region. By doing so, this helps to set the region apart in terms of the quality instead of the quantity of the workforce that is present.

In an interview with the Sports Minister of Qatar, Saleh bin Ghanim bin Nasser Al-Ali, he told the reporter that while he was studying in the United States many of the people he encountered would ask him, “Where is Qatar?” (Harris 1). Qatar’s soft power endeavors have strived to ensure that not only will people all over the world know exactly where Qatar is but also have a positive image of it. Qatar’s soft power efforts have focused on improving relations with other countries, increasing its appeal to foreign investors, creating the perception of an international cultural hub, and creating a tourist friendly environment. As stated throughout the thesis, Qatar has used soft power strategies including sport and public diplomacy to achieve these goals.

Their ludicrous investments in developing the sports and cultural centers and institutions in this small country are unrivaled. From spending billions of dollars on the World Cup 2022 to the purchasing of immense collections of art, Qatar’s soft power strategies are targeting a diverse audience. Their efforts in sports diplomacy has a wide geographical range and even global when they will host the World Cup 2022. As for their efforts in public diplomacy through arts and culture, they have created regional distinction through their Museum of Islamic Art and film festivals and global recognition through their growing collection of modern and contemporary art and their continues bilateral cultural events. Despite all that Qatar has established and accomplished through its soft power strategies, it does not seem likely that it will end anytime soon as they have just started to build a foundation of what the government envisions Qatar to be in the upcoming years. As Sheikha AlMayassa said in her TEDxDoha talk, Qatar’s ultimate vision is to “Globalize the local, and localize the global”.

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Turning Qatar Into an International Power
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YourDissertation. (2021, November 15). Turning Qatar Into an International Power. Retrieved from https://yourdissertation.com/dissertation-examples/turning-qatar-into-an-international-power/

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"Turning Qatar Into an International Power." YourDissertation, 15 Nov. 2021, yourdissertation.com/dissertation-examples/turning-qatar-into-an-international-power/.

1. YourDissertation. "Turning Qatar Into an International Power." November 15, 2021. https://yourdissertation.com/dissertation-examples/turning-qatar-into-an-international-power/.


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YourDissertation. "Turning Qatar Into an International Power." November 15, 2021. https://yourdissertation.com/dissertation-examples/turning-qatar-into-an-international-power/.

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YourDissertation. 2021. "Turning Qatar Into an International Power." November 15, 2021. https://yourdissertation.com/dissertation-examples/turning-qatar-into-an-international-power/.

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YourDissertation. (2021) 'Turning Qatar Into an International Power'. 15 November.

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