As furor over Qatar World Cup simmers, hotel projects underway

The 2018 World Cup and 2022 World Cup will be held in Russia and Qatar, respectively, not to the liking of many who have publicly criticized FIFA for its handling of the investigation into corruption over the bidding process for both competitions. Some have even pulled sponsorship.

However, amid the allegations, Qatar, for one, is still ramping up hotel development ahead of the games.

Like this one: The 1000-plus-room Silver Pearl Hotel, Doha, Qatar, touted as a new world-class hotel and conference/expo center, with a projected cost of—gulp!—$1.6 billion. That's U.S. dollars.

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Pending approval, the project would be developed by Katara Hospitality, a Qatar-based hotel developer and operator, whose portfolio includes many luxury hotels throughout EMEA.

The actual name of the hotel refers to a structure that will "literally rise out of the sea to recall the country's seafaring and pearl diving history."

New York-based architectural firm M. Castedo Architects reportedly designed the complex along with a team of engineering firms. The building will consist of two semicircular 30-story towers separated by a vaulted, climate controlled atrium over lush gardens with an open view to the ocean beyond. An adjacent structure will house a conference and exposition center as well as a recreational landscaped roof deck to be located above a multistory parking facility.

At night, the building's stainless steel glass exterior will be lit with LEDs, its reflection "creating an illusion of a shimmering pearl glowing brightly in the Arabian Sea.

Meanwhile, U.S. brands are also looking to plant flags in Qatar, including Hard Rock, which is already set to open its first Middle East property in Dubai in 2015, and is reportedly in talks to open more hotels in the Middle East, including Qatar.

“We are seeing growth potential in hotels. So we are looking at the whole region and there are certain markets that make more sense because of either the economics or the tourism profile or other factors. That’s why Dubai and Abu Dhabi certainly come up pretty high on the list, but also that’s why we are now looking at Egypt, we are looking at Morocco, we are looking in Doha, Qatar," said Hard Rock CEO Hamish Dodds

Qatar is quite assured that the World Cup will not be taken away from it, and remains adamant that it will not stop any of its current infrastructure projects.

"We are working towards having all the infrastructure necessary for the 2022 World Cup and we're never going to cancel any of these projects," said the country's finance minister, Ali Shareef Al Emadi.

Meanwhile, in Russia, the USA Today reports that the 11 host cities, which have never before hosted major international events, currently have a deficit of accommodations, something Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said will be rectified. "In most of the host cities there is still a serious deficit of accommodation," Mutko said. "This issue is moving at a slow pace as yet and we need to pay attention to it."

Russia plans to build 64 new hotels to compensate.


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