By Javier Picazo Feliu
Doha, Nov 11 (EFE).- Qatar is a leader in technology and communications, hosting some of the world’s most influential media outlets Al Jazeera and beIN Sports as well as the multinational telecommunications firm Ooredoo, which has surged to success in the Middle East region and beyond.
The company has been named as the Official Global Connectivity Services Provider for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
In 2021, Qatar’s information and communications technology sector was estimated at $4.4 billion, the fastest growing in the Middle East, according to official data.
Its harnessing of Internet technology, with the world’s first commercial 5G network, has boosted this rapid development.
Qatar is one of the few countries in the world that launched a National Artificial Intelligence Initiative, which was approved in 2019 to transform the Gulf nation into a knowledge economy, with a focus on the health, entertainment, business, education and development sectors.
Currently, there are about 10 newspapers in Qatar, including the Gulf Times, The Peninsula and the weekly Gulf News.
But its most widely circulated newspaper is al-Watan, which sends out 18,000 copies a day.
The Qatar Media Corporation (QMC) is the official broadcasting network established to supervise television and radio media such as Qatar TV, Alkass Sports and Qatar Radio.
In 2007, Qatar inaugurated the Doha Center for Media Freedom to promote freedom of the press not only locally but also throughout the entire region.
Qatar also has Al Jazeera. It was created in 1996 and became the main news channel with an estimated 270 million viewers.
Al Jazeera’s spinoff, BeIN Sports, directed by Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser al-Khelaifi, has the broadcasting rights for main tournaments and championships.
‘BEST COVERAGE EVER’
With nearly 3,700 employees operating in some 43 countries, beIN network produces content for 60 channels and provides 7,500 hours of live sports a month.
It is also the official broadcaster of the World Cup.
“It’s the biggest event and we’ve been leading up to it for 12 years, so it’s been at the back beat of everything that we’ve done over that time and to be a part of that for that time has been a huge privilege,” Duncan Walkinshaw, the network’s director of programs, tells Efe.
Some 120 anchors, reporters, and analysts are lined up for the prestigious tournament.
Among them are former soccer players Kaka, Gabriel Batistuta, David Villa, Alessandro Del Piero and Ruud Gullit.
BeIN Sports will stream live HD and 4K coverage of the World Cup on seven channels in Arabic, French and English.
“We have to bring excitement, entertainment, we have to bring the best analysts, the best tools for analyzing, to tell the story to the fans, better and more in depth than we have ever done before,” he added.
“The demand will be higher and the expectation from the fans will be higher, we’ve covered previous World Cups since 2010, and our coverage has been very strong, and this will be even bigger and stronger and the best coverage of any World Cup ever.”
Here is where Ooredoo comes in. The World Cup in Qatar will be the first to harness 5G technology in its stadiums, allowing fans and media to connect at the fastest possible speed.
“We as Ooredoo are very proud to be the official operator for FIFA and the World Cup 2022,” Ooredoo’s chief commercial officer Sheikh Faisal Bin Thani Al Thani tells Efe.
“We are very excited to show our best experience of technology and how we can really enhance the customer experience,” he adds.
Beyond the technology on offer at the stadiums in Qatar, Ooredoo announced a revenue of some $4.6 billion during the first nine months of 2022, a 4% jump on the same period last year.
“We as a group, we have a strategy at a group level and also we have been in different countries, different regions, North Africa and the Middle East and also Far East Asia, and also we have a strategy across these markets. When we talk about plans, from our strategy at a group level, we are talking about sustainable growth,” he says.
Ooredoo has unveiled its free Hayya SIM card, complete with 5G as well as 2022 minutes, 2022 local SMS and 2022 megabytes of data for World Cup fans. The SIM is available in physical or digital form.
Qatar’s muscle in the media and telecommunications sector, in which it has invested in both human and financial capital, will be on full display at the World Cup. EFE