When Qatar insisted on hosting the World Cup, people's love of soccer again surpassed their disapproval of dictators, corruption, and human rights abusesWhen Qatar insisted on hosting the World Cup, people's love of soccer again surpassed their disapproval of dictators, corruption, and human rights abuses.
Sports has proven to be a vehicle for soft power, and the Gulf is deploying that power vigorously. Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund recently purchased Newcastle United football club, the UAE owns Manchester City, and the Saudis also own Sheffield United. The UAE’s Etihad and Qatar Airways have major deals with European football clubs worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Dubai is even planning to open a Real Madrid theme park.It should be understood that from a purely financial perspective, Gulf States’ investments in sporting events are, by definition, catastrophically unprofitable. Qatar has spent roughly $200 billion more than they will earn from the World Cup, but what countries like Qatar and the UAE are actually buying, of course, is immunity — and that is priceless.
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