Media Information


How does the creation of a sports centre of excellence fit into Qatar’s long terms plans?

Qatar's National Vision 2030 is the platform for Qatar to describe and pursue the best path to development compatible with the views of its leadership and the aspirations of its people. The Vision aims at transforming Qatar into an advanced country by 2030, capable of sustaining its own development and providing for a high standard of living for all of its people for generations to come. The Vision is built around four pillars, which includes a commitment to Human Development, to enable the people of Qatar to sustain a prosperous society. Aspire Zone’s role within the Vision is to provide access and encourage participation in a wide variety of sports activities.

Why would a small state, with a small national population and no real history of international sport, seek to develop such a complex?

Qatar and Doha has a great deal to offer internationally - weather, geographical location, safe and peaceful nation with a rich wealth of Arabic culture and Islamic traditions. The combination of these national traits when combined with the unique collection of venues and sport capabilities available at Aspire Zone provide a contemporary opportunity designed to attract the business of international sport federations, national sports associations and global sport event companies. Qatar is committed to showing the world itself and the heart of its people and sport is the only universal activity to be able to encapsulate or convey these values. The opportunities that are created for Qatar and its population are endless for the international sport that it attracts. Starting with the Asian Games in December 2006, Qatar and its people has benefitted from an influx of leading sport and business professionals to help shape the aspirations of the nation, but also to deliver fine sporting results already. This in turn has led to a rapid increase in the Nation's confidence and Qatar is stepping out on the global stage to contribute in many areas, and not only sports.

What are the main driving factors – brand awareness for Qatar, economic considerations or seeking to develop an indigenous sporting culture?If it is the latter, how long will that take, can Qatar viably expect to create international champions given the small size of the population?

All of these factors have a contributing role in the motivation of the nation to develop Aspire Zone. Brand awareness has already begun. As well as the Asian Games regular international events are televised throughout the world including the 2009 FINA Diving World Cup event, which was staged for the first time in the middle east at Aspire Zone in March, to name a few. Part of Aspire Zone’s Vision 2015 for Qatar is to have a healthy sports economy and Aspire Zone has a galvanising role to play in harnessing and developing the sports economy of the nation. ASPIRE Academy for Sports Excellence has an international reputation of excellence and the ASPETAR Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Hospital will be presented with FIFA Accreditation in May 2009. Qatar does want to build champions on the sporting field and the first graduates from the program were awarded in June 2008. Already there are signs of development with numerous world class performances in underage International competitions by students of the Academy. ASPIRE Academy has significantly raised the activity levels of the population (Qatari and non-Qatari) through its Aspire Active program. The facilities at Aspire Zone, such as Aspire Dome, the world’s largest indoor sport venue with 13 independent fields of play, enable the Qatar Olympic Committee to develop world leading sport participation programs such as the Schools Olympic Day which commenced in 2008, attracting IOC attention and over 5000 competitors at its finals, the most recent held in March 2009. Aspire Zone will also host the 19th Gymnasiade event, comprising no less than 4 Olympic sporting disciplines and welcoming approximately 3500 students athletes from more than 30 nations. This event is to serve as a final build up event to the 1st Youth Olympic Games to be held in Singapore next summer.

Have you developed clear quantifiable targets in terms of what Aspire should achieve, if so what are the targets?

There are clearly developed targets aligned with Aspire Zone Foundation vision 2015 for Qatar to establish itself as a leader in Sports Excellence and for Qatar to become recognized for world-class sports infrastructures and events. The vision also strives for people in Qatar to enjoy a healthy sporting life style. There are three business units at Aspire Zone that contribute to the unified vision and performance. Firstly, there are the two strategic business partners of ASPIRE Academy Centre of Excellence for talent identification and sport development and ASPETAR Qatar’s Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Hospital which is the first of its kind in the Middle East. The last business partner is Aspire LOGISTICS whose overall responsibility is to operate and manage the venues including Hamad Aquatic Centre, Khalifa Stadium, Women’s Sports Hall, Ladies Club and The Torch Doha . Together these partners synergize to create a unique and powerful full service sport destination for sport events, education, injury treatment, rehabilitation, research and development and sport training. Each partner has ambitious targets to achieve within the overall Aspire Zone vision.

Do you ever see the centre becoming commercially viable or will it always have to be funded by the government and rulers?

Aspire Zone has a strong commitment to maximising the return on investment for the investment placed in the precinct by the Rulers of Qatar. Naturally, the Sport Academy is not a profit centre however the remaining venues strive towards a return on investment that is measured and benchmarked on an annual basis. Whilst there may also be a need for government support like in most countries, there is no doubting the organisations commitment to ensuring the highest standard of readiness and management of Aspire Zone’s activities. Any contribution by the government would also be judged and balanced against the Human Development pillar for the Nation and its people.