The Qatar FIFA World Cup 2022 in November and December will be the first World Cup in the Middle East. This CIRS research initiative provides a platform for academic engagement with the tournament. Under the guidance of GU-Q Visiting Associate Professor Danyel Reiche, the initiative examines the implications of staging “the world’s greatest sporting event” on the social, political, and economic development of Qatar as well as on regional and global affairs. This CIRS project builds on the center’s previous research initiatives related to sports and society in the region. “Sport, Society and the State in the Middle East” and “Football in the Middle East" both resulted in edited volumes containing original research: Sport, Politics, and Society in the Middle (Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2019) and Football in the Middle East (Forthcoming).
This project examines how Qatar is not only competing with traditional centers of global sport but also pursuing broader aims, such as contributing to national reputation and security. By hosting the FIFA World Cup 2022 and other major sporting events, launching the beIN Sports global network of sports channels, sponsoring soccer clubs all over the world (i.e. Bayern Munich via Qatar Airways), and owning the French soccer club Paris Saint-Germain via Qatar Sports Investment (QSI), Qatar has strongly positioned itself in international sports networks.
This CIRS research initiative follows a multidisciplinary approach to studying Qatar, sport, and society, and will also include comparative analysis between the 2022 FIFA World Cup and previous ones. The research initiative webpage houses a variety of academic research and scholarly commentary on all issues related to the Qatar FIFA World Cup 2022 tournament, including expert blog posts and analytical articles by our network of regional and global scholars as well as a podcast series and interviews with major stakeholders involved in global football and in the organization of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Since March 11, 2020, when the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the COVID-19 virus a global pandemic, countries around the world have adopted various measures in order to limit the spread of the contagion on their territories and to protect their populations. The Middle East is no exception. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) was the first country in the region to report a positive case of COVID-19 at the end of January, followed closely by Egypt, Iran, and Oman. Governments across the region responded swiftly by instituting a variety of measures to contain the spread of infectious disease. In addition to expanding their health systems’ capacity for detecting and treating the disease, Middle Eastern states instituted containment measures such as, restrictions on international travel, domestic limitations on movement, sterilization and hygiene campaigns, closures of schools, and transitioning much of their non-essential workforce to remote working, to implement social distancing.
Middle Eastern states vary in terms of their demography, material resources, and capacity, all of which impact their abilities to manage and mitigate the impact of a rapidly spreading, highly infectious virus. As part of Georgetown University Qatar, the Center for International and Regional Studies (CIRS) has built its scholarship on the region and is ideally placed to undertake The COVID Project. Our aim is to provide a focused understanding of how a subset of Middle Eastern countries, Iraq and the six Gulf Cooperation Council monarchies, are being affected by and responding to the ongoing global crisis. Realizing that the pandemic continues to unfold and that as a result, state responses and policies are in a state of flux, our primary goal is to provide updated information on how things are unfolding in these seven states. CIRS has so far collected aggregated data on each of these countries’ health systems so as to build a profile of their health capacity. In addition, we have collated the various policy measures states’ are undertaking to limit the spread of COVID-19 and are providing a means of viewing these from a comparative perspective. Through this special project web page, we aim to provide updated information regularly.
In addition, through a series of short analytical articles, panel discussions, and podcasts by our network of international and regional scholars and experts, we are also providing insight into broader social, cultural, and economic dimensions of the region’s COVID response. We hope to present a timely and thought-provoking discussion on a variety of topics, such as: preventative health measures and chronic health conditions in light of COVID-19; the challenges for Gulf migrants in the midst of COVID; religious ceremonies and practices according to Islamic ethics; the impact on family life, marriage, birth, and death; and national development plans, social contracts, subsidy reforms, and the Gulf.