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2022 FIFA World Cup: Qatar, home of spectacular stadiums

BY: Maurice Quansah
The iconic Lusail Stadium will host the World Cup final match on December 18
The iconic Lusail Stadium will host the World Cup final match on December 18

Football fans from Ghana and across the world should be ready to be blown away with amazing experiences during this year’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar -– it will be a football festival of a lifetime.

Futuristic stadiums -– including the dismountable Stadium 974 -– to floating luxury hotels to a promise to organise the first ever carbon-neutral global football competition, Qatar is literally leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the 2022 FIFA World Cup  sets new standards in the organisation of football’s biggest competition.

As the first World Cup to be organised in the Gulf region, Qatar is not oblivious of the huge expectation of the world. It is the only country to host the FIFA World Cup without previously participating in it.

But spurred by a determination to make a strong statement and also position itself as an emerging global power and a country of diversified private-sector led business and tourism, the Qatari government has committed huge resources to the November 20 – December 18 competition.

As one of the richest countries in the world, based on GDP, Qatar can dare to dream big and commit resources to make it happen. And with two months to kick-off, Qatar says it is ready for the ultimate celebration of football excellence, culture and tourism.

Iconic venues
For Ghanaian football fans, including those who have been to previous World Cup tournaments that the Black Stars participated in since 2006, they will find some of the most iconic venues in Qatar where the country has put together some of the most sophisticated infrastructure where football can be enjoyed, combining modern architecture and their heritage which have largely informed those space-ace designs.

Al Bayt Stadium

The Al Bayt Stadium will host the opening match between hosts Qatar and Ecuador on November 20

Al Bayt Stadium, in central Doha, where the opening match between hosts Qatar and Ecuador will take place on November 20, has a magnificent, eye-catching tent structure which envelopes the ultra-modern stadium -- officials say the design was inspired by the traditional tents of the nomadic people of Qatar and the region.

Its design honours Qatar’s past and present, shade provided by the tent structure and its retractable roof system will complement the stadium's cooling technologies, helping to maintain a comfortable temperature inside the venue.

Ghana’s opening Group H clash with old foes, Portugal, takes place at a venue that has generated a lot of interest for its uniqueness.

It is called Stadium 974 because it is made from 974 recycled shipping containers -- paying homage to the Ras Bu Abboud district’s industrial history and the country’s international dealing code (+974).

Stadium 974

Stadium 974, venue for Ghana's group clash against Portugal, will be dismantled after the World Cup tournament

Being the first temporary venue in FIFA World Cup history, Stadium 974 will be decommissioned after Qatar 2022, the infrastructure relocated, and the waterfront site redeveloped to serve other interest of the community.

During a recent tour of the stadium by selected journalists, including Graphic Sports Editor, Maurice Quansah, D. Talar Sahsuvaroglu, a Senior Sustainability and Environmental Manager of the project, told the Daily Graphic that she took pride in working with Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy to ensure that the Stadium 794 would be the first carbon neutral World Cup by ensuring very little carbon emission as possible during matches it would host.

“This is a plastic neutral tournament and we are working hard with contractors and other vendors to minimise the usage of single-use plastic.

A lot of changes are being done to ensure segregation of waste and setting benchmarks for future World Cups. There are a lot of learning for future world cups so people don’t reinvent the wheel,” she said.

There is also the breathtaking Al Janoub Stadium where Ghana’s grudge clash with Uruguay will take place on December 2.

al Janoub Stadium

Ghana will play against Uruguay at the Al Janoub stadium, nicknamed 'Vagina Stadium'

Famously nicknamed ‘Vagina Stadium’ for its resemblance of the female genitalia, a tag its British-Iraqi designer, Dame Zaha Hadid, describes as “ridiculous”.

Architecturally, the stadium has nothing to do with any risqué imagery; located near the coast of Al Wakrah, it is modelled to reflect the wind-filled sails of Qatar’s traditional dhow boats – in tribute to the community’s fishing and pearl diving past – and sea waves.

With a retractable mechanical roof that resembles a curtain, climate control within the stadium is prioritised with cooling vents constructed beneath seats of fans at certain stands, while cooling elements blows cool air to the players and the field of play to ensure optimal humidity and temperature during matches,” says Abdulaziz Al Ishaq, the stadium’s Facilities Management Director, who explained to journalists during a tour of the venue.

Advance technology
According to Dr Saoud Abdulaziz Abdul Ghani, a professor in mechanical engineering at the University of Qatar and the mastermind behind the 2022 FIFA World Cup’s air-cooled stadiums, the white colour of the stadium’s exterior was designed to reflect the sun rays for enhanced cooling effect in a country where temperature could rise to about 42 degrees celsius.

“We are using a clean source of energy from solar farms which are fed into a grid and tied to the stadium.

“Even here, we have a system to ensure the air circulating inside the stadium is clean by filtering dust and air,” he told journalists.

Officials of the tournament say the 40,000-capacity Al Janoub’s Stadium will be reduced, with the upper tier above the skyboxes removed after the World Cup and seats donated to other sporting projects around the world.

Education City Stadium

Ghana will play against South Korea at the Education City Stadium on November 28

Similar consideration for the environment, sustainability and modernity went into the construction of the other World Cup venues like the 40,000-seater Education City Stadium at Al Rayyan, venue of Ghana’s group match with South Korea on November 28.

An ultra-modern facility built in ‘Education City’, the stadium design blends seamlessly with traditional Islamic architecture, with the exterior bearing triangles creating complex diamond-like geometrical patterns that sparkle as the sun moves across the sky. At night, a digital light show illuminates the façade -– giving fans a remarkable exciting experience.

Al-Thumama Stadium

Al Thumama Stadium will host eight matches during the 2022 FIFA World Cup