How effective are sports campaigns with migrant workers in Qatar?

December 06, 2020

A research project at Northwestern University in Qatar has found that sports campaigns aimed at encouraging migrant workers in Qatar to participate in more sports events did not translate to as much interest or involvement as intended. The project was designed to discover the effectiveness of Qatar’s communications efforts to encourage the community to engage in sporting events, like football or basketball tournaments, and to identify what issues may be limiting their participation. 

According to the workers, despite the campaigns, many said that were unaware of the events. In addition, a lack of time, money, and transportation were cited as the main factors that contributed to their lack of participation. 

The research was funded by an Undergraduate Research Experience Program grant from the Qatar National Research Fund and was led by Professor Susan Dun, in collaboration with student researchers and co-authors Hatim Rachdi, Natasha Sarah Das, Muhammad Muneeb Ur-Reham, Muhammad Humam, and Sana Hussain. 

“Qatar has been under international pressure to improve the living and working conditions of migrant workers, and one of its strategies to do so is to provide them with opportunities to participate in sport and physical activities,” explained Dun. “We wanted to evaluate how successful the campaigns are by asking workers about their awareness of the campaigns and their sport and physical activity participation.”

By collecting data from a pool of voluntary participants, the researchers found that the majority of migrants have participated in some type of physical activity – most notably in a game of cricket – but there was a strong desire to be more involved in government-organized sports events. “We also found that the majority of respondents were either unaware of the events or had no time or money to spend on leisure and sports – and these are important factors to consider when planning for migrant-focused events,” said Rachdi.

The researchers are planning to publish their report independently and hope their findings will serve as a guide to make better-informed communications strategies when promoting sports events to migrant workers in Qatar.