Since the start of 2022, the countdown has begun for the World Cup as Qatar looks forward to welcoming over 1.5 million international attendees, which is way over 50% of the country's population. This is the first time that one of the world's largest sports tournaments hosted in Qatar and the entire Middle East.
The eagerly anticipated competition will kick off across eight close proximity-built venues offering the visitors an unprecedented opportunity of attending more than one match a day.
And while Qatar is a country with low security and medical risk ratings, which put an enormous effort to upscale its medical, security and emergency response in preparation, such high-profile event with the influx of people and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic still requires organisations to plan for and mitigate associated risks to their international attendees and local workforce to ensure normal operation and business continuity.
Associated Risks and Advice
Unlike other countries who have hosted the World Cup in the past within multiple cities, Qatar cannot evenly share the logistical burden. As stadiums proximity is concentrated in and around Doha, there will be an extremely high demand for accommodation, vehicular transport, and public transport use leading to logistical challenges as a result. These if not planned for accordingly can potentially cause operational and business disruptions.
In addition, one should also plan for and anticipate dealing with cultural sensitivities, language barriers, accidents, illnesses, risk of petty crime, cyber security concerns and other threats. Due to the scope of this event, it is important to consider evolving nature of the threats.
As such, organisations sending international attendees to and/or having a local workforce in the country need to ensure continuity plans and medical and security emergency plans are put in place and supported by a robust network of local and international medical, logistics and security providers.
To keep those plans agile and situational it is vital to ensure access to medical and security advisors and specialists, who monitor in-country developments and advise organisations on the necessary steps, changes and adjustments.
Another important consideration is the availability of 24/7 Health, Travel and Security Assistance through a hotline or locally deployed medical and security professional.
And finally, it is crucial to prepare your international attendees and local workforce before the event through access to verified and updated medical, security and travel information and advice, supported by tailored group briefings and ongoing communication throughout the event when the situation is required.
Organisations should follow government directives and ensure that they have continuity plans in place that account for the entry requirements into the country, updated working hours, road closures, and others. Essentially, you should ensure that both your local and international staff are clearly briefed on the logistical and business disruption they will likely experience during the event.
Gulnaz Ukassova, Security Director, Information & Analysis at International SOS
How we can support
For 40 years International SOS has been at the forefront of supporting the health, safety, and wellbeing of our clients' workforce across the globe.
We have been providing 24/7 medical, security and travel assistance and on-the-ground support to our clients during similar scale sports events in Tokyo, CIS countries, South Korea, Brazil, Poland, the UK, and others.
Operating in Doha since 2008, International SOS has significant experience in Qatar and maintains an updated network of assistance resources supporting over 8000 clients’ workforce from multiple industries and corporate sectors. We employ over 60 medical professionals in the country, operate 25 medical sites and have over 100 healthcare and logistics partners, supported by 24/7 Assistance Centre in Dubai.