Policy pragmatism: Qatar and the global events circuit
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The paper aims to give an interesting insight into the rise in event bidding and delivery of sports mega-events from Qatar and the Middle East. This paper seeks to examine the shift in government policies and citizen relationships in the Middle East and Gulf Region, focusing on the specific case of Qatar from its staging of the 15th Asian Games in 2006 to present. The paper begins with an overview of the main literature on the importance of sport events as a vehicle for securing global profile for cities and nations. The paper draws upon the authors' participation at the 15th Asian Games and interviews conducted there and latterly, desk-based research involving scrutiny of Qatar's recent policy pronouncements and published materials pertaining to sporting events in the intervening period since the 2006 Games. The findings are presented in the form of a case study, using the Asian Games as a starting point and finishing with Qatar's latest bids for sporting mega-events. The paper presents a conceptual analysis of the situation in Doha and reveals a ten-year strategy from Qatar to set itself apart from its neighbors in bidding to host mega-sporting events and in its progress in terms of civil rights for women. This has allowed wider participation in sport and ensured Qatar can bid for the most prestigious global sporting events. This paper adds to the wider public policy discussion and contributes to the body of knowledge in this area. The authors have written extensively on events policy but believe issues of democracy versus ruling states, emotional bidding and awarding to such states will continue to rise over the coming years and these have significant implications for both event owners in awarding such bids but also for policy makers in legitimizing bidding for such events in this context. The paper reveals that the currency of awarding events to countries in the Middle East, Africa and South America is politically and socially important and of major interest to both the public and academics at present.
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