Discovering Qatar’s World Cup Stadiums
If you didn't know already, having been asleep for the last two decades, Qatar has been steadily growing its profile as an international sports host. From major regional sports events such as the Asian Games in 2006 and regional championships in athletics, basketball, fencing, football, handball, sailing, shooting and wrestling to world championships in amateur boxing, cycling, gymnastics, table tennis, volleyball, water sports and weight lifting, Qatar's portfolio as sports host is pretty extensive.
Indeed, Qatar also plays host to numerous sporting events on an annual basis - the IAAF Diamond League (athletics), the Qatar Masters (golf), the IHF Super Globe (handball), the MotoGP and the FIM Moto (motor racing), the Qatar Open and the WTA Tour (tennis), and the FIVB Club World Championships (volleyball). More recently, they have hosted the FIFA Club World Cup, the FIFA Arab Cup and the F1 Qatar Grand Prix (with a contract to host the racing event for the next ten years). Then there is the FIFA 2022 Football World Cup, the biggest sports event in the world, with the hosting rights awarded to Qatar in 2010. Having this event in their portfolio boosts Qatar's credentials as a major international sports host sky high!
For such a small country hosting so many competitions and tournaments, the biggest question is, where do they host them? With a population of just under three million and a landmass of just under 5,000 square miles, does Qatar have the facilities to host? Well, the answer is yes. Qatar has a myriad of sporting venues available, from world-class golf courses, motor racing circuits and sporting complexes with multipurpose arenas and Olympic-sized pools to medium-sized stadiums and arenas for football, handball, volleyball, tennis, etc. And the piece de resistance is the eight new stadiums built for the 2022 World Cup.
Constructed especially for the World Cup, Qatar's new stadiums (seven new and one extensively refurbished) are a wonder to behold. Each has been designed to house tens of thousands of fans and to be a reflection of the nation that has worked so hard to become a global hub for sports. Stadiums shaped like traditional tents, regional headwear and crafts, those that resemble traditional sailing boats or sand dunes, and those created to embody sustainability rise up from the horizon as beacons of the country Qatar has become and aspires to be.
If you were to visit nothing else in Qatar, the stadiums would be well worth the trouble; they are architecturally astounding, filled with state-of-the-art and smart technologies, and are surrounded by beautifully landscaped precincts and some of Qatar’s sightseeing highlights. Besides, Qatar is the only country in the world to date where one can visit all of the host's World Cup stadiums in one day - a great challenge to tick off the bucket list!
Visiting Qatar's World Cup Stadiums
The eight stadiums built for the FIFA World Cup 2022 are set to host hundreds of thousands of football supporters. They are designed to receive those visitors in comfort, safety and style. For the first time in FIFA World Cup-sized stadia, each stadium is climate controlled via innovative cooling technologies. Each stadium is accessible to all. Each stadium incorporates Smart technology, allowing visitors to be better connected and to access more time-saving applications, and allowing event managers to ensure visitor safety at every event. And, every stadium built has been designed to be awe-inspiring, stylish and unique, each representing Qatar’s history and culture. Plus, each was also designed to leave a legacy that would benefit not only citizens of Qatar, but those of the wider world…
Read on to find out what to expect when you visit, how to get to each stadium and what will remain after the 2022 World Cup:
Al Bayt Stadium
Visible from miles away, Al Bayt Stadium has been designed to resemble a typical Bedouin tent - the bayt al sha’ar. These tents were used by the nomadic tribes that used to roam throughout Qatar. Traditionally hand-made from goat, sheep or camel hair, the tents were designed to keep the inside cool by allowing air to circulate freely. Inside, the new stadium is kept cool via modern, solar-powered cooling technologies. Cool, palatial walkways lead guests around the centre pitch and multiple seating areas are adorned with sculptures and models of traditional objects used when camping. Outside, visitors can enjoy Al Bayt Stadium Park, which surrounds the arena. The park boasts vast green spaces, a man-made lake for boating, water features, kids play areas, exercise stations, courts and pitches for football, tennis, volleyball and basketball, horse and camel stables and paddocks, and a multitude of restaurants and cafes.
Built in the coastal city of Al Khor, this 60,000 capacity venue is quick and easy to reach via:
- The Metro Red Line to Lusail and then the shuttle bus service from Lusail to the stadium.
- Car, taxi or bus (Stadium Express Bus) on the Al Khor Coastal Road - plentiful parking space and drop-off and pick-up points are provided.
On completion of the World Cup, the upper tier of the Al Bayt Stadium will be removed, reducing the stadium's capacity to 32,000 seats. The removed stands will be donated to developing countries with little or no stadium infrastructure. The remaining arena will be converted into a modern, vibrant recreational venue for tourists and the local community. Amenities will include a five-star hotel, and a shopping centre with a food court, gym and multipurpose hall.
Al Janoub Stadium
Image: Fauzan Fitria/Shutterstock.com
Inspired by the traditions of Qatari life on the coast - pearl diving and fishing - the stadium has been designed to resemble the sails of traditional Dhow boats from the outside, and the hull of a ship on the inside. The curved sleek lines of the arena’s facade that glint in the heat of the sun belie the cool interior. An innovative, specially designed cooling system, helps to keep guests cool regardless of the outside temperature. However, on cooler days visitors can walk the surrounding precinct complete with gardens, lawns, picnic areas, children’s parks, tracks for horse riding, running and cycling, and numerous restaurants, or visit the nearby Al Wakrah Souq (a traditional-style market with many cafes and restaurants) or the beach.
Located 24km from Doha, south of the bustling town of Al Wakrah, Al Janoub Stadium can accommodate up to 40,000 football fans at every event and can be reached via:
- The Red Line on the Doha Metro.
- Car, taxi or bus (Stadium Express Bus) on the Doha Express Highway or the Al Wakrah Road - ample parking space and drop-off and pick-up points are provided.
When the final whistle blows on the World Cup 2022 tournament, part of the stadium will be removed, reducing capacity to 20,000 seats. The seats removed from the stadium will be used for social and sporting development projects. Al Janoub Stadium will then become the home of the local football team, Al Wakrah Football Club. Incorporated into the area surrounding the stadium will be a new retail complex, sports facilities and parkland, restaurants and cafes, as well as a new mosque, wedding hall and market.
Ahmad bin Ali Stadium
The proximity of Ahmad bin Ali Stadium to the desert has heavily influenced the design of the stadium and the surrounding complex. The stadium, with an undulating facade that wraps around the building, emulates the flow of a sand dune. Many of the surrounding structures and the complex’s landscaping also mimic the shape of the desert dunes. The facade panelling uses geometric patterns, often found in traditional Islamic architecture, to symbolise important aspects of life for the people of Qatar. The facade, more practically, contains photovoltaic panels used to capture solar energy. Solar energy is used to power the cooling system designed specifically for the stadium. Guests visiting the stadium can easily take in the delights of the Mall of Qatar while in the area. The Mall, the nation’s largest, hosts year-round, free live theatre performances, has a substantial entertainment complex, and an abundance of eateries.
Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, which boasts 40,000 seats, is located 23km west of Doha city centre and is easily accessible using local and private transport, specifically:
- The Metro Green Line and alighting at Al Riffa Metro Station.
- Car, taxi or bus (Stadium Express Bus) on the Dukhan Highway - parking spaces are abundant and drop-off and pick-up points are provided.
When the World Cup tournament comes to a close, the stadium will become home to the Al Rayyan Football Club. The stadium's capacity will be reduced to 20,000 seats, with the removed facilities donated to the developing world. The local community will also benefit from the amenities in the complex surrounding the stadium. Sport and leisure facilities, such as pitches for football, cricket and hockey, tennis courts, tracks for cycling, walking, running and athletics, and an aquatics centre, will be provided to promote healthy lifestyles for all.
Al Thumama Stadium
Al Thumama Stadium’s 40,000 seat striking circular, patterned facade is designed on the ‘gahfiya’ - a woven cap. The gahfiya is worn by boys and men in Qatar and throughout the Arab world. Young boys may wear the Ghafiya cap on its own. However, when boys reach adulthood and independence, the cap is worn as a base for the ‘gutra’, a loose headdress held in place by a black rope called an ‘agal’. The gahfiya, therefore, is a symbol of independence and is part of a culture and tradition that spans the Arab world. However, the stadium is a truly modern arena designed and operated using innovative sustainable technologies that guests can admire as they walk through its cool, calming interior.
At only 18km from the heart of Doha city and a short drive from Hamad International Airport, Al Thumama Stadium is one of the easiest stadiums for visitors to reach, via:
- The Metro Red Line, alighting at the Free Zone Metro Station and catching a shuttle bus to the stadium.
- Car, taxi or bus (Stadium Express Bus) via the Doha Express Highway - multiple parking spaces and drop-off and pick-up points are provided.
When the World Cup moves on, Al Thumama Stadium and the surrounding complex will continue to inspire visitors and the local community to follow and participate in sport. The arena, reduced to a capacity of 20,000 seats, will continue to host football matches on a local and national level, as well as other sporting events. The surrounding complex, with running, cycling and walking tracks, courts for a variety of ball sports and facilities for swimming, will be a local sports hub. For visitors who want to get a closer look at the award-winning stadium or who fancy something novel, a boutique hotel will be built in the upper stands overlooking the pitch.
Education City Stadium
Education City Stadium shimmers from a distance and changes colour as the sun passes overhead thanks to the highly reflective cladding panels used during its construction. The stadium design, inspired by Islamic architecture and made up of interlocking geometric panels, also creates diamond-like patterns on the surface. Visitors to the stadium will be able to see first hand why this arena has been nicknamed the ‘Diamond in the Desert’! Surrounding the stadium, visitors can make use of the many green spaces including a 33-hole golf course. And, adjacent to the stadium are some of Qatar’s most fascinating and awe-inspiring buildings, such as the Education City Mosque and the National Library, plus, the Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art, a world-class equestrian centre and a beautifully landscaped park, Olympic Park, are all definitely worth visiting.
The 40,000 seat stadium, located just 13km from Doha city centre in Al Rayyan, is accessible via:
- The Metro Green Line, alighting at the Education City Metro Station and jumping on battery-powered trams to the stadium.
- Car, taxi or bus (Stadium Express Bus) via the Dukhan Road - plenty of parking spaces and drop-off and pick-up points are provided.
When the last of the FIFA World Cup 2022 football supporters leave Qatar, work will begin on its transformation and the transformation of the surrounding district. The arena will be converted into a venue for local, regional and international sporting events and the adjoining sports hub will serve the local community living, working and studying in Education City. The upper tiers of the stadium will be disassembled and 20,000 seats donated to sports development projects abroad.
Khalifa International Stadium
As one of Qatar’s oldest sporting landmarks, Khalifa International Stadium is the only stadium, of the eight World Cup 2022 stadiums, to have been redeveloped rather than newly constructed. Alongside an expansion in capacity to 40,000, the stadium facade has been remodelled to give it an ultra-modern and sleek look. Above the stadium, two giant, 120m tall arches tower above the pitch and a canopy curves upwards from the stands to provide shade and protection from the sun. Inside the stadium, an energy efficient, intelligent cooling system works to maintain stadium temperatures at 26oC. Around the stadium are a host of hospitality and VIP zones, retail space and a new museum - the 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum. Located in the Aspire Zone complex, Qatar’s sporting centre of excellence, the stadium joins a multitude of state-of-the-art venues including, Aspire Academy - a training and education centre for the development of world-class athletes, Aspire Dome - the largest indoor multi-sport facility in the world, Hamad Aquatic Centre, and a multitude of leisure facilities for the public - Aspire Park, Villaggio Mall and Hyatt Plaza Mall.
Lying 14km from Doha’s centre in Al Aziziyah, the stadium is accessible via:
- The Metro Gold Line, alighting at the Sports City Metro Station.
- Car, taxi or bus (Stadium Express Bus) via the Al Waab Road - plenty of parking spaces and drop-off and pick-up points are provided.
Once the football World Cup final has been played out, Khalifa Stadium will be retained as Qatar’s premier and its largest, international sporting and events venue.
Lusail Iconic Stadium
Lusail Stadium with its state-of-the-art architecture and engineering, high-tech user services and sustainable design, is a perfect fit for the city in which it lies - the ultramodern city of Lusail. The stadium, designed to emulate a fusion of Arabian crafts, rises from the ground into a gently curving, traditional handmade bowl-shaped design and will delight all who arrive at its doors. During the daytime, the facade catches the sun on aged-metallic panels. During the evening, intricate patterns carved into the facade create openings through which a warm light glows, like the traditional 'fanar' (lantern). Once inside the stadium, visitors will be treated to a host of smart technology. Football fans will be able to use mobile ticketing services, connect with other fans in the stadium, take holographic selfies with the players, get closer to the game with online match information and live translation in any language, all using mobile applications and technology exclusively designed for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Nearby, visitors can walk to the Lusail Marina and promenade, Crescent Park, the Place Vendome Mall and a host of eateries.
This mammoth 80,000 seat stadium, located in the heart of the Lusail, is 16km north of central Doha and accessible via:
- The Metro Red Line and a 10 minute walk to the stadium.
- Car, taxi or bus (Stadium Express Bus) via the Al Khor Coastal Road - a generous number of parking spaces and drop-off and pick-up points are provided.
When the last fireworks of the 2022 World Cup closing ceremony explode, the stadium and the surrounding complex will be redeveloped into a unique community hub. The stadium will be transformed into a vibrant edifice housing schools, shops, restaurants and cafes, accommodation, sporting facilities, health centres and other public spaces. The seating and infrastructure removed from the stadium will be donated to other sporting projects around the globe.
Stadium 974 is one of Qatar’s most unique and exciting World Cup arenas. The 40,000 seat stadium, rather than using traditional building materials, is built using coloured shipping containers. The bright colourful structure is an aesthetic marvel but this smart building solution paves the way for future sustainable stadium construction. The clever use of containers, plus the use of other prefabricated and modular components, requires fewer building materials and produces less waste than traditional stadium construction. Using modular components also helps to reduce the duration of construction, saving time and costs. The stadium, by its design, can be deconstructed after use, giving it an entirely temporary nature. Once dismantled, the containers, seats, roof and other prefabricated and modular components are recyclable. The carbon footprint of this type of stadium is significantly reduced compared to traditional design solutions. And, to top it off, situated alongside the beautiful Persian Gulf with views of some of Doha’s best-known landmarks, the panorama from the stadium complex is the most spectacular of all of the eight World Cup 2022 stadiums.
Perfectly positioned only 1.5km from Hamad International Airport and only 10km from Doha city centre, the stadium is easily accessible via:
- The Gold Line of the Metro.
- The Metro Gold Line, alighting at the Ras Abu Aboud Metro Station and walking 10 minutes to the stadium.
- Car, taxi or bus (Stadium Express Bus) via the Ras Abu Aboud Expressway - parking spaces are plentiful and drop-off and pick-up points are provided.
When the 2022 World Cup football tournament is all boxed-off and the stadium dismantled, the remaining complex will be redesigned as a waterfront venue. A host of shops, restaurants, cafes and green spaces will be provided for visitors and locals to enjoy in a stunning location on the water's edge.
Main image: qatar2022.qa