Believe it or not, Qatar is a leader in technology and communications and one of the countries with some of the most influential media in the world, in information it has the giants Al-Jazeera or beIN Sports as its banner, while in telecommunications Ooredoo has conquered the region and will be the Official company of the World Cup in Qatar 2022.
In 2021, the information and communication technology sector in Qatar reached US$ 4.4 billion, the fastest increase in this sector in all the countries in the region, according to official data. Its internet penetration, with the first 5G network in the world, has boosted the development of its main media and companies and clears the country’s economic future.
Qatar is also one of the few countries in the world with a National Artificial Intelligence Plan approved in 2019 and focused on the health, entertainment, business fabric, education or research and development sectors, in its objective to become what they call a ‘knowledge economy’. Its strategy involves exploring the use of Big Data to create applications and a new management model, while planning to update the legislation to guarantee privacy and transparency.
Some technological pillars that represent the cultivation base for new media and to expand the market in the case of its most influential headlines. Currently, the country has about 10 newspapers, including the Gulf Times, the first in English after its independence, The Peninsula or the weekly Gulf News, the first medium in the country dating from 1969.
As for its most widely distributed medium, Al Watan, in Arabic, it remains at 18,000 copies a day. For its part, the Qatar Media Corporation (QMC) is the official broadcasting authority created to supervise television and radio media such as Qatar TV, Alkass Sports or Qatar Radio. For media management, the country opened the Doha Center for Media Freedom in 2007, which is responsible for promoting press freedom not only in the country but throughout the region.
Qatar also has the largest television outlet in the Arab world, Al Jazeera. Created in 1996, its main news channel registers an estimated audience of 270 million people and various specific channels on social networks that extend its influence capacity, especially to a young audience. One of the main sports channels worldwide was born from this group, beIN Sports, with broadcasting rights for the main sports competitions and directed by Nasser Al-Khelaifi, current president of the French soccer club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), among other relevant positions.
THE MEDIA BEST COVERAGE EVER
The beIN group, with close to 3,700 employees and present in 43 countries, currently has facilities in Doha that are a technological prodigy and allow it to manage and produce content for 60 channels and offer 7,500 hours of live sports per month. It is also the official channel of the Qatar 2022 World Cup, something that is a challenge for the group. “It is the most important event and we have been organizing it for 12 years. So it has been at the base of everything we have done during that time and being part of that has been an enormous privilege”, Duncan Walkinshaw, the group’s programming director, told EFE.
The medium, which has the largest sports broadcasting complexes in the world, will have a cast of 120 presenters, reporters, commentators and analysts for the World Cup event, and up to 9 studios in which technology is its main asset. As part of his bet, he will have former first-class soccer players on screen such as Kaka, Gabriel Batistuta, David Villa, Alessandro Del Piero, or Ruud Gullit.
The coverage will be in HD and 4K, with augmented reality technology and with 7 channels dedicated exclusively to the World Cup in Arabic, French and English. “The expectation is always the highest quality, how we manage our rights is very important,” says Walkinshaw, who points to a significant investment not only to “cover in Qatar, but also to cover the stories at a regional level. If, for example, Spain and Germany play, we will have reactions at the local and regional level” in both countries.
“We have to generate emotion, make entertainment. We have to bring in the best analysts. We have to have the best analysis tools to tell the story better to the fans and in more depth than ever before with the help of statistics. The way in which we present all this content, with a greater demand and a greater expectation of the fans”, is a business strategy that allows him to anticipate that “the best coverage of any World Cup in history” will be seen.
“The live experience will be something that has never been seen before. Some studies will be impressive. That is where the investment is. It invests in connectivity globally and within Qatar, which allows everyone -media and fans- to exchange content and spread it globally” with a 360-degree experience of the information generated on the field.
In order to create and spread all that content, they will need a strong leader. The Qatari telecommunications company Ooredoo was chosen as the official FIFA operator for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. It will be the first tournament to have 5G technology in all stadiums, allowing fans and the media to share content with the highest speed possible.
“We are prepared and very proud to be the official operator of FIFA and the 2022 World Cup. We are excited to show technological advances and our ability to improve the experience of our customers”, Abdulla Bin Mohammed Al Thani, Deputy Director General of ooredoo. Apart from the technology in the stadiums and the World Cup concession, Ooredoo is one of the most important companies in the sector, backed by financial results. The Qatari firm announced profits in the first 9 months of the current year of around 17,000 million riads, equivalent to some US$ 4,600 million, which represents an increase of 4%, waiting for the World Cup to further boost its profits.
“As a group we have an increase globally. We are in different countries, different regions, North Africa and the Middle East and also Asia. When we talk about plans, initiatives from a strategic point of view and at a global level, we think of sustainable growth”, he highlights. “Our clients are always at the heart of our plans on a daily basis. And we make them feel as if they were at home, in the case of World Cup fans we are working very hard to offer products and services that can make them feel at home”, he assures.
In this sense, Ooredoo has announced the Hayya SIM card with 5G technology for the World Cup with which they will offer 2022 local minutes, 2022 local SMS and 2022 megabytes of data, in physical or digital format. A sector, that of telecommunications and the media, in which Qatar has been investing in both human and financial capital, and which will have its great opportunity at the World Cup to show the world the progress of a country prepared to conquer fans.