As a result, the eyes of the football world were focused on Qatar from the time it won the bid to host the World Cup in 2010, which triggered the roll out of mega infrastructure construction projects including new stadiums, major interchanges and highways and a brand new metro system, coupled with construction of new hotels and apartment buildings that transformed the city and changed the skyline of Doha.
Each of the eight stadiums built, are uniquely designed highlighting Qatar’s history. In addition, each one was equipped with solar power cooling technology to keep the stadiums cool and spectators comfortable, shielding them from the intense desert heat of the country. This solar power cooling technology is eco-friendly and it helps to reduce the impact of global warming.
Al Janoub Stadium was conceived and designed by the world famous Iraqi-British architect, Zaha Hadid, who sadly died before its completion. The design of the stadium was inspired by the sails of the dhow boats that were traditionally used for pearl diving and fishing and today offers visitors a cruise in the warm waters of the Persian Gulf.
Al Bayt Stadium was built in the style of the traditional Arab tent. The opening match of the FIFA World Cup was held at this stadium on 20 November 2022.
The design of Al Thumama stadium is inspired by a traditional woven cap known as the keffiyeh, also spelt as qahfiya, worn by Arab men under their headdress as a tribute to the Qatari tradition and culture.
Clearly inspired by Islamic culture, the design of the Lusail Stadium draws its inspiration from traditional Fanar lanterns, with their interplay of light and shade. The beautiful intricate bowls with the exquisite, detailed design also acknowledges and celebrates the region’s ancient tradition of craftsmanship.
The Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium and its surrounding buildings mirror its country's environment, while the exterior reflects the sand dunes, desert and the local flora and fauna.
The Khalifa International Stadium stands out in the Aspire Zone and the Education City Stadium brings to life the Education City with its shape and colours.
Stadium 974, a nod to Qatar’s international dialling code, was converted from exactly 974 recycled shipping containers. This stadium has already been dismantled following the completion of the 2022 World Cup and will be shipped to a developing country for further use.
Overall, the lasting legacy of these stadiums will be one of sustainability, a central theme to be cherished by our future generations.
The Community members of Doha captured the spirit of the FIFA World Cup 2022 with great enthusiasm. Each person felt a part of the vibrant atmosphere that pervaded the city. At the Doha Community Centre, volunteers were on hand to welcome visitors from all over the world with a warm smile. In true FIFA spirit, a life size football was placed at the entrance of the Centre.
Football at entrance to Centre
Just as large television screens were placed strategically all over Doha for fans who could not get to the stadiums, a large screen was set up in the courtyard of the Centre for members to enjoy live viewings of the football matches. We created our own fan base which was equally popular amongst local residents and visitors alike. The well known generosity of the Doha Community members was apparent. Light refreshments and tea were served each evening for all to enjoy and cherish these memorable times.
Several of our Community youth were actively engaged at the games. One young volunteer was a team lead, assigned to direct the spectators to their proper zones and seats. Another enthusiast was part of the delegation team that welcomed football players at the airport and facilitated their smooth arrival into Doha. One of our university students was thrilled to greet the football players as they arrived at the stadiums and escorted them to their dressing rooms. She described her experience as “a dream to see so many famous footballers in real life from so close”.
Visitors to Qatar were here to follow their favourite football team and their love of the game. Some had been to previous World Cups while for others, this was their first experience. Various individuals who came to the Doha Centre were asked to share their impressions and perspectives in informal conversations.
One remarked “It is like going to the Olympics! Everything is so well planned and it is such a joy to experience international sports in Qatar.” Another visitor felt that the facilities surpassed any other world event that they had attended. For most visitors from the northern hemisphere, Doha gave them warm sunny days away from the cold winters and wonderful weather to enjoy. They were appreciative of free public transport on the metro and buses throughout the tournament and free WiFi across the city.
For those looking for something exciting to do on non-match days, Qatar offered an opportunity to explore cultural and traditional buildings that give Doha its unique characteristics. The iconic Museum of Islamic Art, the ‘cultural village’ that is Katara, Souq Waqif which is possibly the most famous traditional souq in Doha, the new Qatar National Museum inspired by the Desert Rose and the very popular Corniche which became a 6km car free carnival-style festival zone for cultural events and parades are just a few examples of all that, that Qatar had to offer.
During the FIFA tournament, I was fortunate to attend several football matches in four different stadiums. It was exhilarating being part of an international event with thousands of spectators and fans from all over the world. It was very impressive to see how well behaved everyone was, how efficiently and smoothly the events were organised and what a cheerful and happy atmosphere was created in the stadiums. Many were intrigued by the local culture and donned the local dress, whereas others wore their national dress to support their favourite teams. Another highlight for me was to see how these world-class footballers showed true sportsmanship, professionalism and courtesy, both on and off the football field. It was an unforgettable experience.
As I reflect on major events in our region, I am reminded of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (AKAA) held in Doha in November 2010, when our Community members hosted the leadership from all over the world with sumptuous dinners and entertainment programmes during the week when His Highness the Aga Khan, Prince Amyn Aga Khan and Prince Hussain Aga Khan were in Doha.
More recently, the Jubilee Games in Dubai in 2016 witnessed athletes from across the world participating in friendly yet competitive sports as one global Community. They showed that participation is more rewarding than winning.
Just as the Doha Community members cherish wonderful memories of these events, listening to our young members enthusiastically discussing their favourite team and their favourite goals by Messi, Ronaldo and Mbappe, we shall look back to the FIFA World Cup 2022 with fondness and special memories of yet another unique occasion in the history of the Community in Qatar.