In a few weeks, the 2022 World Cup will kick off in Doha and will run until 18 December. The number one priority has been making sure Qatar's food and drinking water supplies are sufficient to cater for the 1.2 million fans expected to descend on Qatar during the tournament period, which has formed an unprecedented challenge for the tiny country's food and bottled water industries.
Rising to the challenge
Observers point out that Qatar has gained invaluable experience in handling food security issues from two pivotal experiences during the last decade: the Saudi-led three-and-a-half-year blockade which started in 2017 and ended at the Al-Ula Summit in 2021, and the coronavirus pandemic.
Through actions the Gulf state took in response to these crises, Qatar strengthened its food security position and now ranks number one among Arab countries and 24th globally in food security.
Qatar opened its brand new Strategic Food Security Facilities Terminal in Hamad Port on 13 August 2021. Mohammed Bin Hamad Bin Qassim Al-Thani, Qatar's Minister of Commerce and Industry, said the project was in line with Qatar's overall strategy to enhance its food security and would increase the state's stockpiling capabilities for foodstuffs. He added that it would enable Qatar to achieve food security and meet the needs of the Qatari people.
Longterm reserves for a growing population
The Strategic Food Security Facilities' Terminal is considered to be the first of its kind in the region. It has a storage capacity for three main commodities: rice, sugar and edible oils.
These can be stored on the site for up to two years in long-use storage silos and warehouses which are specially designed and contain specialised equipment to safely store the products in accordance with global safety standards. The amounts stored are estimated at being sufficient to supply the needs of three million people.
Qatari businessman Ali Khalaf sees food as a key question when considering Qatar's decision to host the 2022 World Cup, adding that exceptional measures are required from the government and private sector to rise to the challenge of a 50 percent rise in the country's population over the month of the tournament.
Khalaf added that the return of commerce via the land crossing with Saudi Arabia would contribute greatly to easing the transport of foodstuffs, as the kingdom was one of Qatar's most important sources of food imports.
However, he stressed that Qatari products would also be available, especially since the period would coincide with the local harvesting season for certain crops like tomatoes, cucumber, aubergine and other seasonal vegetables.
With regards to food imports, he stated that relevant parties across the private sector had prepared themselves, and everyone was eager to make the event a success, so imports would increase in pace during the tournament period.
You can read more here on Alaraby