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Qatar's Public Diplomacy Strategies

Public Engagement Spaces

In 2018, the FIFA World Cup was hosted by the largest country in the world, Russia. 4 years later, the World Cup was hosted by the 3rd smallest country in the Middle East. Qatar has a population of only 2.94 million people and a land total area smaller than the U.S. state of Connecticut (Qatar Ministry of Planning and Statistics, 2022). Qatar understood the benefits of having transportation, stadiums, food, and cultural activities all within 45 minutes away. The millions of fans traveling to Qatar could get the most out of their experience by spending their time discovering, learning, and enjoying all that the nation of Qatar had to offer.

Qatar capitalized on providing a plethora of ways for fans to learn more about the country. Qatar successfully used and redesigned its public spaces to engage millions of fans around the world and promote cultural understanding through interactive activities, museums, music festivals, gastro-diplomacy events, art shows, religious discussions, and daily cultural activities.

Qatar made it a focus to show the world that they are invested in the development of its youth population and giving them access to sports. Noushad Thekkayil/EPA, via Shutterstock

Qatar's cultural messaging also came in the form of its eight stadiums, with each of them having a different significance and meaning in relations to Qatar's history, culture, and people. Al Bayt Stadium was designed to resemble a tent which was used by the nomadic Bedouin people in the Gulf region. Courtesy of Getty Images

The Role of Qatar Museums

In an effort called Qatar Creates, Qatar also announced in the weeks before the World Cup that a total of 100 artworks will be spread across the capital in an effort to transform the city of Doha into an "outdoor museum experience" so that everyone who came could leave with a piece of history, culture, or new experience learned. Pieces of art were placed all around the city with each piece having a significant meaning for Qatar and its history (Smith). The museums played an important role in delivering Qatar's message to the world. Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani spoke about the importance of this effort by saying: "The addition of 40 new, major works of public art this fall is a significant milestone for Qatar's public art programme. Public art is one of our most prominent demonstrations of cultural exchange, where we present works from artists of all nationalities and backgrounds. From the arrivals at the best airport in the world - Hamad International Airport - to every neighborhood in our nation, public art is there to make your experience unique." Qatar wanted the World Cup to be more than football, it wanted people to immerse themselves into different and unique cultural experiences.

An important factor that Qatar also chose to focus on was having artists from all over the world represented throughout the city. This gave the city an international component while showing that Qatar also embraces cultural elements from different countries. Sheikha Al Mayassa stated that "More importantly, artists from every corner of the world" - representing all continents - have been invited to express their artistic creativity with our very own diverse population.

During the lead-up to the FIFA World Cup 2022, Qatar opened the 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum. The museum is dedicated to showing national and international sports history and promoting and encouraging academic research in sports (Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum). In an unveiling for the museum, a short documentary was made featuring Qatari and well-known athletes such as David Beckham discussing the way sports are part of Qatari history and an important part of the development of countries. Some of the most historical and memorable sports moments are shown throughout the museum. The museum was created to promote sports in the region and encourage youth to incorporate sports into their daily lives. This is an important initiative taken by Qatar as it shows the developments they are making in the world of sports and how they would like sports to become part of Qatar's legacy.