What led to your establishment in Qatar?
HEBA AL MASRI We have recruited and trained two cohorts of participants and are leading the way toward attracting international start-ups to Qatar. We are promoting Qatar in the international market in terms of what Qatar has to offer in sports beyond the FIFA World Cup 2022, the FINA Swimming World Cup 2020, and other major sports events. In 2020, we were extremely successful in bringing in 20 new start-ups to Qatar, and at least 90% have opened branches through QST and are continuously working here. This is the beginning of putting Qatar on the map as a global sports hub. In terms of room for improvement, we are also working closely with our partners to nourish the local entrepreneurial ecosystem and have more Qatari companies in our program in 2020 and beyond.
HAMAD AL-KHAMEES One of the driving factors was the many opportunities Qatar offers, especially in the sports sector. Qatar has been investing money and resources in the sports industry for a long time. The second driving force is the passion of Arabs and Qataris when it comes to sports, which almost guarantees the success of any valuable initiative in the sports field. The idea to establish Dowli Sports was conceived during a long-term working stay in Spain, where we realized fans were queuing for more than half an hour to get food and beverages at stadiums. We want Qatari fans to focus on what they love and not to waste time queuing. As football fans ourselves, we found an opportunity in this and decided to go for it. That is exactly the third reason for the establishment of Dowli Sports; we love sports and have specific education and expertise in sports business management, marketing, tech and consulting which is of paramount importance if one is to operate successfully in the industry.
Can you guide us through the role of athletes and teams, fans, mega sports events, and e-sports in the program and how they will evolve in the medium term?
HAM We aim to recruit start-ups who can contribute to each of these segments. For athletes and teams, we look at wearables, data tables and analytics, injury prevention, and so on, whereas for fans, we try to increase their comfort and involvement in the game, in-stadium and on a daily basis. For the mega sports events, such as the FIFA World Cup 2022, the FINA Swimming World Cup 2020 and other major sports events, the possibilities are endless and can include, logistics, entertainment, sustainability and much more. As for e-sports, which is a growing industry in Qatar, especially with the country hosting the Esports WEGA Global Games, we look at solutions that enhance gameplay and performance analytics for players.
What role is the government of Qatar playing in the thriving sports environment in the country?
HAK Qatar is doing a wonderful job. There are many academies in Qatar focused on sports performance enhancement, more than any other country in the region. There is also the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, which is in charge of the preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Plus, some of the schools located in Education City are offering sports management courses at bachelor's and master's level. However, the most important thing is that there is a collaborative culture and all stakeholders are on the same page. Finally, it is worth mentioning that Qatar is regularly hosting major sports events, which is the best way to involve the population and build expertise.
What legacy do you anticipate the 2022 FIFA World Cup to have on Qatar's sport industry?
HAM The 2022 FIFA World Cup will be the beginning of Qatar's sports legacy. After that, we want Qatar to be the first country that comes to mind when thinking about sporting events. The path is being paved at the moment with Qatar's speed and commitment by its government. The way Qatar is building up everything with a focus beyond 2022, hosting other events alongside and in parallel, seems to be strategic and makes complete sense and Qatar SportsTech will live beyond the upcoming sports events in the next three years.