As the world`s largest sports tournament is underway in Qatar this month, the Middle East country of 2.9 million[i] is expected to host over 1.5 million international visitors[ii]. The competition takes place across eight close proximity-built stadiums offering football fans an unprecedented opportunity of attending more than one game a day.
Despite being a location which ranks low in terms of security and medical risk, Qatar has invested significant effort to further upgrade its medical, security and emergency response in preparation for the games. However, the scale of the event and the influx of people into Qatar require impacted organisations to plan for and mitigate, associated disruption and risks to ensure normal business operations. As the tournament is taking place across eight stadiums logistical demand is widespread, particularly with extremely high demand for accommodation, road transport, and public transport use. This is causing logistical challenges and leading to operational disruption for organisations. Additional considerations for organisations include cultural sensitivities, the potential for accidents and illnesses, risk of petty crime, cyber security concerns and other threats.
Gulnaz Ukassova, Security Director, Information & Analysis at International SOS commented, "Organisations should remain up to date during the tournament on all government directives related to entry requirements, business operations, road closures, and other restrictions. Local employees and international assignees should be briefed on the logistical and business disruption they will likely experience during the event. Visitors to Qatar should remain aware of the logistical considerations, cultural sensitivities, and security-related concerns they may encounter during their stay."
Sebastien Bedu, International SOS General Manager, GCC adds, "Our previous experience in providing support to our clients during high profile world sports events in countries including Brazil, CIS countries, Tokyo, South Korea, Poland and the UK indicates that the situation may remain fluid during the course of the tournament. It`s likely that there might be unforeseen challenges. Therefore, having regular communication with security experts and health professionals is a must to mitigate those risks."
To manage the safety and security of your international attendees and local workforce in Qatar International SOS recommends:
- Ensure business continuity, medical and security emergency plans are put in place and are supported by a robust network of local and international medical, logistics and security providers
- Account for reduced working hours and potential disruption due to increased traffic restrictions and congestion
- Ensure 24/7 access to medical and security advisors and specialists, who monitor in-country developments and advise organisations on the necessary steps, changes and adjustments to keep those plans agile
In addition, for those on-the-ground we recommend:
- Regularly reconfirm restrictions including those around road closures and alcohol consumption, as these can be introduced at short notice. Avoid self-driving, and use alternative modes of transport instead, including official taxis and public transport
- Remain vigilant and adopt basic sensible precautions against the risk of petty and street crime
- Monitor international diplomatic affairs for issues that may impact you based on your personal profile
- Avoid discussing politics or sensitive issues in public settings and carefully consider anything you post on social media
- Adopt basic measures to safeguard information security. Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks and turn off your mobile phone`s Bluetooth and Wi-Fi functions when not in use
- Minimise time spent in the vicinity of attractive militant targets, including government, security forces and religious sites. To exercise vigilance around `soft` civilian targets, such as transport hubs and shopping centres
Delete all applications downloaded on your electronic devices while in Qatar and run a thorough check of all devices upon your return