The Asian Games was just a beginning. Qatar will soon organise two world cups: the Handball World Cup in 2015, and, of course the Football World Cup in 2022. How important is this?
Well, there is fierce competition among the states of the Gulf. Wealthy and ambitious cities such as Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Jeddah, Bahrain and Kuwait are also making plans to attract people and investment.
Dubai has become the number one tourist destination in the Middle East. Capitalising on its existing infrastructure and attractive lifestyle, the most vibrant city of the UAE cannot be equalled. Bahrain, trying to be a financial hub, is still faltering in the aftermath of political turmoil. So is Kuwait, although once upon a time it was the most advanced economy in the region. Jeddah is a becoming a religious tourism platform for the Muslim world.
And then comes Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, which has also invested in culture and sports. The Formula One Grand Prix has become a major international event in the automotive racing world. The city of Abu Dhabi is the main sponsor of the World Rally Championship. The Ferrari entertainment park is open. Manchester City’s English Premier League title boasted the credentials of its oil-rich Emirati investors. As for the loudly publicised Louvre and Guggenheim museums, however, there are doubts about their final completion dates.
Football sponsorship spells it out
Football reflects pretty well the competition between the Gulf cities. Emirates Airline is sponsoring Arsenal FC. Qatar Holding just bought Paris Saint-Germain and was leading the mercato during this summer. It has to be said that Qatar also bought the French TV rights for football. French supporters will not forget the name of Al Jazeera.
As we can see, Qatar’s future is promising. With a few stunning museums to open and the hosting of forthcoming world sports events, the peninsula can become the centre of sports and culture in the region.
However, good destination branding (the technical term for branding a country or a city) is not only made of coups.
How do other countries do it?
New Zealand is a great case study. A small island state in the South Pacific with 4.4 million inhabitants has been ranked the number three country brand in the world. Croatia is not doing badly either. Emerging from a deadly civil war, the small Mediterranean country managed to build its name through sports (football and handball especially) and tourism.
What are their secrets, considering they are not so rich? How did they make it?
Well, those brands understood the concept of branding: perception! Reputation and perception are not something that money can always buy. It is built over time. It is achieved through the commitment of motivated stakeholders. Looking at the success of these two countries, we can define the rules of good destination branding.
Looking at these rules, can Qatar make it?
Qatar has the resources. Qatar has the ambition. In short, Qatar has the energy required to create a powerful and memorable image. Qatar has established itself as a big player on the sports field. It is fast becoming one of the most important cultural hubs in the Middle East region.
Through the Qatar Foundation, it has been investing in education for the past decade like no other country. So yes, Qatar has a few good stories to tell. We talked about the recent success of London and how British celebrities contributed to building the image of the Games. But it was clear to everyone that the population of London, the volunteers and the cheering crowds, made it happen for real.
This is why Qatar is right to support its new talents, its young athletes (Mutaz Essa Barshim) and its promising artists. They will be the story-tellers that the world will want to listen to. And this is why Qatar needs to make sure that the Qatari population will be properly engaged and motivate.
A NEW POSITION FOR QATAR
More money is wasted trying to position a country than almost any other marketing endeavour. Almost every country is incredible, remarkable and sensational in some way. What makes India, Indonesia and Brazil different from every other country? Who knows?
The problem with all of these positioning slogans is that they are too “big”. They try to encompass everything about a country in a few words. As a result, the word or words selected are too abstract. They’re not tangible or down-to-earth.
Malaysia is “Truly Asia”, but so is every other country in Asia. So where in your mind do you put Malaysia? In a section of your mind called “truly Asian countries”? Content/Photo Source: Qatar Today