Travel restrictions and harder border controls slapped on Qatar by its regional neighbours could derail the country’s $205bn (£160bn/€180bn) building project ahead of the Qatar 2022 Fifa World Cup.
A diplomatic crisis was sparked last week when Saudi Arabia and others halted land, air and sea traffic to Qatar and blacklisted several Qatari-linked organisations and individuals. They accuse Qatar of supporting terrorist organisations, a charge denied by the small nation whose economy is already feeling the pinch of the global oil price crash.
The sanctions coincide with the moment at which Qatar had planned to reach peak construction on eight World Cup stadia and major infrastructure, including a new metro system in capital city Doha and 60,000 new hotel rooms.
The travel restrictions are problematic as Qatar relies on migrant labour and the import of materials. The country has estimated it needs 36,000 migrant labourers working on stadium projects alone this year and next.
The UAE, Egypt and Bahrain have joined Saudi Arabia in taking action against Qatar.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph newspaper, Graham Robinson, a director at Global Construction Perspectives, said: “This diplomatic crisis could not have come at a worse time for the construction of the 2022 World Cup stadia and Qatar’s infrastructure programme.
“The crisis is expected to most acutely affect labour supply and on top of the controversy around workers’ rights, this will be a major blow for the Qatari government.
“There is the potential for significant disruption and also massive cost overruns as getting construction materials into Qatar to build stadiums may yet prove more difficult, time consuming and costly.”
Last month, Qatar 2022 organisers were given a major boost by the successful trailing of the much-discussed air-conditioning technology at the new Khalifa International Stadium. Since Qatar was awarded the 2022 tournament in 2010, concerns have been raised over the temperatures that players will be subjected to when playing in matches during the national team football tournament.
Image: 2022 Supreme Committee