Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Qatar2022: The utopia of sharing

You don't have to be a football fan to know by now that Qatar has won the right to organize the FIFA World Cup in 2022.   Just before the UEFA EURO 2012 Championship (hosted by Poland and Ukraine) Michel Platini the president of UEFA proposed that the following EURO championships should be hosted by cities across European countries as opposed to one country.   He gave as a bad  example Qatar, a country of 1.7 million set to host the FIFA World Cup, an event that needs at least 10-12 stadia with capacity of 45.000 and above each (700.000+ football stadia seets in total) and close to 60-90.000 new hotel rooms.

He claims that spreading the right of organizing across more GCC countries would have a much larger ripple effect and result in sustainable developments.

Personally I think it is a fantastic idea, which huge international and regional potential, but with a probability of being implemented close to if not spot on zero.  But if we were to be just a bit critical a huge amount of doubt arises with respect to the opportunity and legacy of a World Cup event in Qatar.

The country has 12 registered A level football clubs with an average attendance on a "Stars League" match of 4,150 spectators. Yes four thousand, one tenth of the smallest stadium to be built.  So, no matter how positive we try to be, it hardly makes any sense what the small state with unlimited resources is about to engage for: building 12 air conditioned stadiums, an additional mega airport of 24 million pax p.a. (remember population is 1.7 million), launch above 200 infrastructure projects and practically "spend" 100 billion USD to put the country to lead the world rankings of highest stadium seats per capita, per square kilometer and etc.

With the short travel distances between GCC capitals, engaging other capitals in the region seems a no-brainer. Doha + one other Qatari location could take on opening, 2 groups, quarter final, semifinals and the final, while Dubai/AD, Kuwait City, Manama, Muscat and perhaps Riyadh could take group each and some quarterfinals and one of them a semi.

This would result in a much more balanced event, culturally more interesting experience and above all totally sustainable legacy and impact for the whole region, a region where the most popular sport is by far football.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

The Just-do-it factor

During my not so long stay and work here in Oman I often observe a symptom that keeps provoking me especially in work context, and that is the general lack of striving to achieve things, the lack of appeal for a sense of achievement or success.  It might be because of the predominance of inherited wealth and shortage of created wealth, because competitiveness is not (yet) in the DNA of the economy, or just because culturally compromise is preferred over confrontation. Or a blend of the above.

It is far from me to generalize but the effects are so negative that it well worth trying to change this slightly apathetic work culture. I am sure the topic has been overly worn out  by HR professionals and loads of expensive training programs have been developed to improve work morale and motivation in many places.

My humble suggestion is very simple, albeit it requires a bold policy commitment and leadership rather then micro level HR work.

In my view there is one thing that could naturally change this on the long term, and that is not the fear of running out of oil or the ex-pat labor leaving.  It would be sports! Sports as form of play for kids, sports as  entertainment and education for youngsters and sports as a profession for grown ups. I am not saying Oman should be a sports nation only but there should be several times more done to infect Omanis with this wonderful drug of competitive physical activity.  There is not one training program that can achieve a level of personality formation than competitive sports can.  Hard work, practice, concentration, patience, talent, ability, perseverance, self awareness, self knowledge, knowing your limits, team work and above all FUN, lots of FUN. 

So all in all it provides all the ingredients for a striving personality.  Besides education and shier knowledge, I think using sports as a formation tool would be the key to achieve lasting change on this front. It's never to late.