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One of the most memorable and historic photos of the 2022 FIFA World Cup featured Lionel Messi given a black bisht by the Emir of Qatar after Argentina won the World Cup final against France. Courtesy of Frank FIFE / AFP.

Qatar's Public Diplomacy Strategy

2022 FIFA World Cup

My final PUBD 596 project seeks to analyze and report on the country of Qatar's public diplomacy strategy during and before the 2022 FIFA World Cup to promote itself as an attractive sports hub in the region and for nation branding. I will be analyzing the messaging that Qatar and its official leaders put forward to FIFA and the international community since 2009. Qatar's cultural initiatives, messaging, and planning for the 2022 FIFA World Cup allowed the country to rebrand itself and offer a new perspective to the world, especially with the increased backlash it received during the lead-up to the World Cup.

Qatar opened the 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum to promote and encourage people in the region to incorporate sports in their daily lives. The museum features some of the most historic sports moments and history about Qatar's involvement in international sports. Courtesy of Qatar Museums
The months before the start of the 2022 FIFA World Cup were filled with controversies, boycotts, and negative press about the country of Qatar and questions as to why Qatar was even allowed to host the most-watched and prestigious sporting event on the planet. But months later, after historic football performances, satisfied fans, a traditional bisht on one of the greatest football players in the world, and a statement from FIFA President Gianni Infantino saying Qatar 2022 was "the greatest World Cup ever", Qatar had stunned the world.

During the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2022, Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad Al Thani gave a statement regarding the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar saying, “Our region has suffered for so long. Hosting the World Cup will give hope to youth across the region. The impact of such sport event is not limited to fun but goes far beyond that. To achieve mutual understanding between different cultures and different backgrounds. The people of Qatar are excited to showcase our hospitality and the ancient culture of the Arab world.” Courtesy of World Economic Forum
One of the ways it was able to do so was by heavily investing in its cultural infrastructure and institutions, focusing on all aspects of Qatari history and culture such as music, food, religion, art, and clothing. Qatar's first official bid presentation to FIFA in 2009 had a major focus on communicating the positive aspects of its culture to the world. Since then, Qatar and its leaders have deployed the country's cultural elements to argue that they would be the best fit to be the first Arab and Muslim nation to host the FIFA World Cup. Qatar also understood the importance of using the positive legacy of the 2022 FIFA World Cup to continue to promote its cultural initiatives and become a cultural and sports hub in the Middle East. Its cultural diplomacy strategy used during the FIFA World Cup would live long past December 2022.