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Qatar population rises 13.2% in World Cup hiring surge

REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed
Locals and tourists visit Souq Waqif, a traditional marketplace, in Doha

Qatar’s population has surged by 13.2 percent in a year, official data shows, as the tiny Gulf state recruits thousands of overseas workers ahead of hosting the World Cup in November and December.

The wealthy gas producer’s population stood at 2.94 million after some 370,000 additional people moved to Qatar in the 12 months to September, according to figures released by Qatar’s statistics authority last week.

Low-income migrant workers and other foreigners make up the majority of the country’s population while Qatari nationals number around 380,000.

World Cup organisers face a personnel shortage as Qatar prepares to receive an estimated 1.2 million football fans for the tournament, which is expected to put pressure on its infrastructure, hospitality and security sector.

Hotel operator Accor is recruiting 12,000 temporary overseas employees to operate 65,000 rooms in apartments and homes serving as temporary fan housing. Qatar has an agreement with Turkey to provide more than 3,000 riot police and Pakistan has also agreed to deploy troops to Qatar during the tournament.

Qatar has built expressways, seven soccer stadiums, hotels and skyscrapers, spending at least $229 billion on infrastructure. Around half of Qatar’s population is employed in the construction industry.

In the years after the tournament, Qatar’s population is expected to decline by about 1.2 percent year-on-year and shrink to 2.5 million by 2027, according to the International Monetary Fund.