20110830 qatar libya
Qatari Minister of State for International Cooperation Khaled bin Mohammed al-Attiyah and Aref Nayed, Libyan ambassador to U.A.E., attend the Contact Group Meeting on Libya in Doha. - 

Steve Chiotakis: The tiny gulf state of Qatar has a population of just 1.7 million, but it beat the United States to host the soccer World Cup for 2022 and this week it says it's going to bid for the 2020 Olympics. But Qatar's ambitions go well beyond the sports field, and into the battlefield -- of Libya.

From Dubai, the BBC's Simon Atkinson reports.

Simon Atkinson: Qatar sent money, weapons and expensive fighter jets to the Libyan rebels during the uprising. In fact, Qatar's capital Doha has become a home-away-from-home for Libyan opposition leaders.

Dina's producer working for a "Free Libya" TV satellite channel that broadcasts out of Doha. She thinks Libyans will always be grateful for Qatar's support.

Dina: For different reasons, you know the Arab World has not been able to step up, but Qatar is I would say an exception.

So what does Qatar want in return? Clearly it now it's going to have some political influence. But there are potential economic benefits too. Qatar-based companies are going to be well positioned to win lucrative construction contracts. And that's because Libya's going to be spending money to rebuild infrastructure battered by air strikes. The Libyan rebel government's already said its going to tap their regional allies to help sell their vast oil and gas supplies.

In Dubai, I'm the BBC's Simon Atkinson, for Marketplace.