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Built to Last

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World Cup legacy is almost as important as the event itself. With less than two years to go until Qatar hosts the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the country is preparing for a massive influx of visitors from around the world. The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy has been tasked with not only readying the country for one of the biggest supporting events in the world, but also ensuring that the lasting effects of hosting such a large event will be positive.

As many as 1.5 million visitors are expected to visit the country during the tournament, with up to 500,000 fans visiting on peak days. Hosting such a volume of visitors has required the country to make massive investments in infrastructure and accommodation, as well as the stadiums to host the matches themselves, and the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy has the unique burden of ensuring that these investments do not ultimately lead to an infrastructure or tourism oversupply when the fans return home.

Following the imposition of the blockade, Qatar reduced the number of hotel rooms it had planned to have available for 2020 from 84,000 to 45,000, yet no shortages are expected.

Visitors to the World Cup will find accommodation in a variety of forms beyond just conventional hotels, such as cruise liners, hotel apartments, and even private homes. Among the more uncommon accommodation options for visitors will be a group of floating hotels. In early 2020, Qatar-based Katara Hospitality signed an MoU with Admares to build and operate 16 floating hotels.

The Finnish construction firm is a global leader in modular construction and will bring the concept to the country in order to provide accommodation for World Cup visitors. Approximately 16 floating hotels—each with 101 rooms, a restaurant, and a bar—will line the shores of Qetaifan Island North.

The hotels do not require major infrastructure or deepwater ports and will be powered by solar energy. The floating rooms will be situated close to Lusail International Stadium, where the opening and final will be held, and after the tournament will be able to be moved anywhere with water that is at least 4m deep. With the ability to be moved to where accommodation is needed, the rooms are not likely to remain empty after the World Cup.

Sustainability was at the heart of Qatar’s initial bid to host the tournament, and the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy is working to achieve its goal of being the first ever carbon-neutral tournament.

The committee’s early efforts have already paid off. In early 2020, Education City Stadium became the first tournament venue to earn a five-star rating from the Global Sustainability Assessment System, followed by Al Bayt Stadium in July. Additionally, a significant portion of the energy used for the tournament will come from renewable sources.

Kahramaa, the country’s national utility company, is currently developing the country’s first large-scale solar power plant, the 800-MW Al Kharsaah photovoltaic plant. Built on 1,000ha of land, the plant is expected to be complete before the end of 2021 and will continue to supply clean energy to Qatar for decades after the World Cup ends.

The committee has also partnered with FIFA to create a detailed carbon plan for the event, which will include a carbon footprint report listing all emissions related to the World Cup in Qatar. Also included in the four-step plan are efforts to mitigate and reduce emissions during construction of the stadiums, recycle water and materials, install highly efficient cooling systems, and landscape areas surrounding the stadiums with native plants.

Among the committee’s many sustainable projects with an eye for the future is Ras Abu Aboud Stadium, which will host the tournament’s quarter finals. The 40,000-seat stadium, which is being built close to Doha Port and overlooking the West Bay skyline, will be made primarily from 949 shipping containers and is set to be completely deconstructed following the World Cup.

The site of the stadium once housed a number of dilapidated buildings, many of which contained asbestos. Additionally, groundwater in some areas was contaminated from previous industrial activities. In building the stadium, crews cleaned up the site and were able to reuse or recycle more than 80% of demolished materials.

Al Rayyan Stadium, inaugurated in December 2020, was also constructed with sustainability at the forefront. The new 40,000-seat venue sits on the site of the old Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium, and efforts by the committee led to more than 90% of materials from the old stadium being reused or recycled for the project.

Rather than being demolished, the old stadium was deconstructed, with the contractor separately removing different elements like the concrete, seats, steel, wiring, lights, and doors. The natural environment was also protected; trees around the original stadium were either preserved or replanted following the deconstruction of the old stadium.

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