The World Cup in Qatar: a security issue

The country has deployed nearly 32,000 government and 17,000 private security personnel

PHOTO/REUTERS  -   FIFA World Cup Trophy

Almost 12 years after Qatar obtained the organising rights to host the football competition, the World Cup is one of the most talked-about sporting events in the world. However, behind the lights and the crowded stands of football fans lies a well thought-out security network that has received external support from foreign countries.

The country has so far shelled out tens of billions of dollars - some estimates put the amount at close to $200 billion (192.4 billion euros) - to build the right sports facilities to host the World Cup. Another tens of billions of euros, on the other hand, have been spent on security around the sporting event. It should not be forgotten that the country, with just three million inhabitants, is one of the world's largest producers of natural gas

PHOTO/AP - This undated file photo shows a Qatari liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker being loaded with LNG at Raslaffans seaport in northern Qatar

In fact, holding the event in a 'desert' country has necessitated a reorganisation of the international football calendar, shifting the sporting event to winter - until now it was usually held in the northern hemisphere's summer - to avoid the scorching heat of the Gulf country.

According to the World Cup organisers, more than 1.2 million fans have travelled and will travel to Qatar, and in response to the influx of tourists, cruise ships have been set up as floating hotels in response to concerns about the lack of accommodation. In addition, nearly three million tickets have been sold, according to organisers.

AFP/KARIM JAAFAR - General view of the exterior of the Al-Thumama stadium in the capital Doha on 22 October 2021
Security during the tournament 

The 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar? Security Operations Committee (SSOC) held a training and leadership programme weeks before the start of the football tournament, which was closed by Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani, Head of Security Operations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar, along with Colin Smith, Director of FIFA World Cup Operations and CEO of Qatar 2022. 

Up to 180 expert security officers were certified to provide training to government and private security forces. 

In fact, the security preparedness plan envisages a deployment of 32,000 government and 17,000 private security personnel. According to Abdul Rahman Hamad al-Suwaidi, deputy head of the SSOC's Training and Development Unit, "All our training programmes have been internationally accredited, implemented and supervised by Qatari nationals. Those who have trained and qualified now represent a legacy for Qatar, where their skills and training will be put to good use even beyond the tournament.  

AFP/DAVID GANNON - The World Cup is one of the most talked-about sporting events in the world.

Some of the key security issues that the World Cup has focused on include crowd safety and crowd control; risk and security management; and emergency response to major accidents.

So far, the SSOC is fulfilling its training mandate in a timely manner; and announces the optimal preparedness of all security forces to receive and protect as many visitors as possible from all over the world to attend the World Cup.

In addition, a National Security Centre monitors 15,000 security cameras with facial recognition technology in the eight World Cup stadiums. The SkyDome and DroneHunter systems from US-based Fortem Technologies are used for this purpose. In addition, most of the stadiums are located within a radius of just 70 kilometres of each other in the city of Doha, where all the fans will also be concentrated. 

PHOTO/REUTERS - Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani
External security support 

Qatar, however, is a country with little experience in organising macro-events of this magnitude, which is why it has needed the support of other countries in order to keep security barriers as high as possible. 

For example, the British Ministry of Defence, among other countries, both the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy are contributing to the security exercise at the World Cup. Eurofighter Typhoons from Number 12 Squadron support the anti-terrorism efforts during the FIFA competition

AP/HASSAN AMMAR - Qatari Prime Minister Khalid Bin Khalifa Bin Abdulaziz Al Thani receives a gift from FIFA President Gianni Infantino
Digitisation of security

The Aspire Command and Control Center was created for this sporting event as a modern control room from which to remotely manage all venues. This system includes a comprehensive measurement of every parameter and a digitisation system that replicates, in 3D, each of the infrastructures. Hamad Ahmed al-Mohannadi, director of the centre, explained that, "this system is usually used in security or military-related centres"

In addition, all cyber security systems are unified by a single platform that is analysed every second by 80 workers 24 hours a day

AFP/AFP - Maps of Qatar and the Doha region, where all 2022 FIFA World Cup matches will take place

Niyas Abdulrahiman, chief technology officer at the Command and Control Centre, told the EFE news agency that "the aim is also to ensure that everything works properly without interfering with the amateurs". In fact, faced with the possibility of both internal and external cyber-attacks, Abdulrahiman believes that they have chosen the right tools to protect themselves and a team of qualified experts in the field.