Sports are not just about performance and winning—they are often used as a way to bring people together, create unity, and foster a healthy outlook on life. Sports draw people in and keep them engaged on many levels, mostly because they offer a degree of identity and community involvement.
Perhaps this is why the announcement that Qatar will host the FIFA World Cup event in 2022 has been such a big deal—it will not only bring people together under the banner of friendly competition, but also give the country an opportunity to take the spotlight on a global stage and foster national pride.
Under its proposal to FIFA, Qatar has promised to develop several new stadiums while renovating others. The venues will be located in seven host cities, including Al-Daayen, Al-Khor, Al-Rayyan, Al-Shamal, Al-Wakrah, Doha, and Umm Slal. For those lucky enough to attend a game, there will be both athletic and architectural wonders. Each of the stadiums being built or renovated features bold designs inspired by Qatar’s culture and traditions. As a result, they have all become a source of great pride for the country.
Lusail Iconic Stadium
As the name implies, this 86,250-capacity arena located north of Doha is by far the most exciting and largest of all the World Cup stadiums planned for the big event. It has been under construction since April 2017 and will be used for the opening and final games in the tournament. Designed by British firm Foster + Partners, the stadium will feature a circular base and retractable roof, as well as a reflective pool encircling the entire structure. In addition, the venue will serve as one of the focal points of the new planned city of Lusail, which will include parks, a marina, metro system, and homes for up to 200,000 people.
The addition of a modular, upper-tier seating section has bumped the capacity of this stadium to 44,740 and made it one of the largest in Qatar. The arena, which was once known as Thani bin Jassim Stadium, was completed in 2003 and is currently the home of the Al-Gharafa football team.
Under construction for almost two years, the Al-Bayt Stadium in the city of Al-Khor will boast a bold, iconic design inspired by the traditional tents used by the nomadic peoples of Qatar. The stadium will contain seating for 60,000 spectators over three levels and provide convenient service to all major modes of transportation in the area, including buses, shuttles, water taxis, and cars. Completion is projected for 2018, at which point the stadium will boast colored seats, a retractable roof, and a high-tech cooling system. At the end of the games, some of the seating tiers will be removed and given to developing countries that are building their own sporting venues.
Qatar began construction on this 40,000-capacity arena in 2016. Situated on the edge of the desert, the stadium will feature a façade inspired by the geometric, perforated patterns and motifs found in traditional buildings in the area. Other buildings serving the stadium will be constructed to resemble sand dunes. The design is a gesture toward national pride and serves as way to bring in the community, who will be able to enjoy the venue after the World Cup when it becomes the 20,000-seat home of the Al-Rayyan Sports Club.
Situated along the seashore, this 45,120-capacity stadium has embraced the design of the dhow, the traditional sailboats used by seafaring people in the Persian Gulf. From afar, the venue’s profile resembles a boat waiting on the shore before launching out to sea. Similar to Al-Gharafa Stadium, which has a modular upper tier, this arena may be partially disassembled after the event and shipped to developing countries.
Like many of the other planned venues, Al-Wakrah Stadium will also honor Qatari cultural identity through a design by the famous Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, who passed away in 2016. Inspired by the sails of the dhow boat, she created plans for an imposing, boldly modern structure with a curved, swooping roof. Meant to appear as if it is sailing through the waves of the Persian Gulf, the sports complex will not only hold 40,000 spectators for World Cup games, but will also contain multipurpose rooms, swimming pools, spas, and a shopping center with a living roof. Once the event is over, the venue will become home to the Al-Wakrah Sports Club with a slightly lower seating capacity.
Doha Port Stadium
Built on an artificial island in Doha’s port, this circular stadium will have the capacity to hold 45,000 spectators for the group-stage games, round of 16, and quarterfinals. The venue’s cooling system will rely on the constant recirculation of water over the roof and facades. Like several of the other stadiums, the seating will be designed modularly, so that some can be removed afterwards.