March 10 - The 2014 World Cup hasn't even started yet but the hosts of the 2022 event aren't wasting any time. As Hayley Platt reports Qatar is investing $140 billion over the next five years on new hotels, airports and transport infrastructure.
Qatar used to be one of the poorest Gulf States. But thanks to oil and gas reserves it's now one of the world's richest countries. And in less than a decade it will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup - albeit in the winter to avoid the extreme heat. In preparation for the world's biggest soccer tournament it's spending $140 billion on infrastructure projects - almost a third of that on leisure and tourism. The country's tourism authority says Qatar wants to expand its horizons beyond the business traveller. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) CHAIRMAN OF QATAR TOURISM AUTHORITY, ISSA BIN MOHAMED AL MOHANNADI, SAYING: "The new strategy focuses on developing general leisure tourism, and highlighting Qatar's capabilities." The construction of a new airport is well underway. Hamad International is set to be one of the world's most advanced. It will rival nearby Dubai's for size and will provide work for around 200,000 people. It will also have a direct transport link to the capital Doha. The project hasn't been entirely problem free but officials say it will ready for take off later this year. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) CHAIRMAN OF THE STEERING COMMITTEE OF THE NEW DOHA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT PROJECT, ABDUL AZIZ MOHAMMAD AL-NOAIMI, SAYING: "Because of increased transit growth in Qatar and the region in the past few years, these modifications were necessary to deliver an airport with a capacity of 30 million passengers on the opening day.'' Signs of Qatar's wealth are everywhere in Doha. And luxury brands are flocking to the city - carmakers like Lamborghini, Porsche and Audi among them. Business at last month's International Motor Show was particularly brisk, according to one trader. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) MARKETING MANAGER AT ALMANA MOTORS COMPANY OMAR MONZER, SAYING: "Qatar is booming now and is attracting lots of different nationalities. The number of people coming here has increased and they have diverse needs. So, we expect to see sales of all types of cars increase." Qatar hasn't been as quick to cash in on its tourism potential as Dubai. But it does look set to beat Brazil when it comes to building infrastructure ahead of a world cup. Some venues for this year's event aren't even finished yet and there's less than 100 days before the first match kicks off.