Workers in Qatar clean a water fountain in Doha's growing City Center and West Bay District in October. But far bigger preparations will soon be underway following Qatar's successful bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
During the last few decades, the relatively sleepy port city of Doha on the Persian Gulf has been transformed into a glittering modern metropolis that will soon host soccer fanatics from around the globe. (See a Qatar map.)
The venue will be quite unlike any other to host the event, said Don Belt, senior editor for foreign affairs at National Geographic magazine and editor of the National Geographic book The World of Islam. (The Society owns National Geographic magazine and National Geographic News.)
Qatar (pronounced KUT-ter) is the most traditional and conservative society in the Persian Gulf, except for Saudi Arabia. It's also home to broiling desert temperatures, one major city, and little soccer tradition—many Qataris are more passionate about traditional pastimes such as camel racing and falconry.
"It's a real head-scratcher," Belt said. "I'm sure soccer fans all over the world are wondering about this one."
Also see "Qatar: Revolution From the Top Down" in National Geographic magazine.