- Seven new stadiums for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar feature designs from some of the world’s most renowned stadium architects.
- The stadium’s design evokes Arab culture, but also incorporates innovative features such as 974 shipping containers used to make up a large portion of the new venue.
- Most of the venues will be resized to host multiple events after the World Cup.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar features seven brand new stadiums, and one of them will disappear entirely after the nearly month-long event. Qatar’s climate forced the 32-nation tournament to be moved to winter this year, marking a change for soccer’s world stage, which takes place every four years. Nevertheless, new stadiums required a mix of cooling technologies, retractable roofs, and shade-promoting designs.
To host 64 games between 20 November and 18 December, Qatar renovated one venue and built seven new ones. (It should be noted that Qatar has a poor record of using expatriate workers, and there is no accurate record of the number of deaths during construction.) Recruiting world-renowned stadium designers to create an Arab-inspired design, Qatar built a place from 974. shipping containers, and many other locations will be reduced after the event.
Here, we break down all eight stadiums for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and their cutting-edge feats of engineering and technology.
Al Bait Stadium
Al Khor City
The World Cup will start on November 20 at the Al Bayt Stadium, a venue that was due to open in 2021 under the design of Dar Al-Handassa, and will also host one of the tournament’s semi-final matches. Similar to a tent historically used by nomadic peoples in Qatar and the Gulf region, a PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) woven fiberglass membrane includes a retractable roof to compliment cooling technologies. After the World Cup, the 60,000-seat venue will be downsized to accommodate 40,000 seats. The modular upper level will be removed and the seats repurposed for other sports facilities around the world. The upper concourse will be converted into a five-star hotel with a sky box level, along with lush green space around the venue. A shopping centre, food court, gym, multipurpose hall and sports medicine hospital will all be included in the stadium.
The largest stadium for the tournament—and host of the championship match—takes cues from architects Foster + Partners and Populous. Inspired by the light and shadow of a “phanar” lantern, the façade features triangular panels and a steel frame with additional decorations that resemble motifs found on regional artistic bowls. Opened in 2022, the bowl seating comes in three levels. The PTFE roof lets light through for the natural grass turf to grow, while providing protection from hot wind and dust and providing shade to ease the strain on the venue’s air conditioning. After the tournament, Qatar says the venue could be turned into affordable housing units, shops, food outlets, health clinics or even a school. The upper level will likely become an outdoor terrace for the new homes.
Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium
umm al afeee
With a luminous façade created by Ramboll and Pattern Design, featuring patterns important to the region – including waves of sand dunes – the 40,000-seat venue opened in 2020 replacing a stadium that once stood on the same site was standing. Over 90 percent of the construction materials from the old stadium were reused or recycled, and trees were moved to other locations on the property. After the World Cup, the 20,000 seats will be removed and reused for other sporting events, and the site will become home to the local football team.
Al Janab Stadium
In homage to the city’s maritime past, the 40,000-seat stadium was inspired by the sails of traditional dhow boats. With a retractable roof, the 2019-opened stadium will be used year-round for the local football team, and will be brought back up to 20,000 seats after the World Cup. The roof, which weighs 416 tonnes, was built on six temporary frames before being lifted and welded together. The steel wire can open and close the steel structure. AECOM and Zaha Hadid Architects designed the stadium.
Al Thumama Stadium
To represent a gahfiyya, the traditional woven hat worn by men and boys in the Middle East, has a white outer part against a green surroundings. Designed by architect Ibrahim M. Jaidah, the 40,000-seat venue is slated to open in 2021. The Gahfia design is more than a nod to culture, as the cap-like design was created to be coupled with cooling technology to keep the sun from penetrating. After the World Cup, 20,000 seats will be removed, and a boutique hotel will replace the stadium’s upper stand, overlooking the football field.
Education City Stadium
The façade of the 40,000-seat stadium, designed by Fenwick-Iribern Architects and Pattern Design, opened in 2020, features triangles that form a diamond-like geometric pattern that appears to change color with the movement of the sun across the sky Huh. At night the same façade turns into a digital light show. As part of a sports hub for the community after the World Cup, 20,000 seats will be removed and the top level of the venue could be turned into classrooms for nearby universities.
Khalifa International Stadium
The only existing stadium to be rebuilt for the 2022 World Cup, the stadium was originally built in 1976, but was redeveloped in 2017 by the original stadium architect, Dar Al-Handasah, in preparation for the global stage. The double arches of the stadium remained intact and were joined by an elaborate canopy to support the integration of the cooling system. A new 10,450-seat tier pushed the capacity to 40,000, and a new LED lighting system augmented the fan amenities.
ras abu aboud
Built entirely from 974 shipping containers (which, notably, is also the region’s international dialing code) and modular steel, it became the first World Cup stadium to be completely dismantled after the tournament. Designed by Fenwick-Iribaran Architects as a tribute to Qatar’s history in worldwide trade and sea travel, the standard shipping containers provide a colorful array of materials for everything from concessions to stairs, and modular design lowers the requirements. Many of the materials needed for the venue were brought to the site in containers now used in the venue. With its location amidst natural wind patterns, the seating bowl for the 2021-open venue uses Breeze instead of cooling technology for ventilation.
Tim Newcombe is a reporter based in the Pacific Northwest. He covers stadiums, sneakers, gear, infrastructure and more for a variety of publications including Popular Mechanics. His favorite interviews include sitting down with Roger Federer in Switzerland, Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles, and Tinker Hatfield in Portland.