When Qatar, started bidding to host the 2022 World Cup, EXPECT AMAZING was their slogan.
They knew that their population was 2 million. They knew that their land mass wasn’t the biggest. But they were sure of what their resources could do for them and the game of football. They told the world to expect amazing World Cup in Qatar. They told FIFA delegates that, if given the chance, they would host a unique World Cup where challenges would be turned into opportunities.
There were issues with the hot weather in summer. Qatar promised to provide a cooling technology that would keep the stadia under good condition for soccer. They promised a unique World Cup where, for the first time, fans could watch two matches in a day largely due not only to the proximity of the centres but also to the fast trains that they would provide. Fifa bought their presentation and awarded them the rights to host the 2022 World Cup.
Three years down the line, the slogan has changed from EXPECT AMAZING to DELIVERING AMAZING.
That has been the message in Qatar since stakeholders including the media started arriving the city for the unveiling of the design for Al Wakrah Stadium, the first among the six new stadia to be built.
“I’m proud of the work that we have done in the past three years,” said Hassan al Thawadi, the Secretary General of Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee Saturday in a world press conference in Doha, the capital of Qatar. He said that it was a period delivering on the strategies and the concepts that will ensure a lasting legacy that they hope will be the World Cup in 2022 in Qatar. Apparently, the Supreme Committee feels that it’s time to deliver the amazing concept designs and projects that will lead to a fantastic World Cup in 2022 when the slogan could change to EXPERIENCE AMAZING.
Another word that is being freely used now is “legacy”.
Al Thawadi hopes that everything about the World Cup in 2022 will be about “a legacy we want to leave not only for the people of Qatar but also for entire Middle East and football world.”
The facilities, the infrastructure, the opportunities the World Cup will create will outlive generations, he said.
Al Thawadi’s answer to a question on when they will prefer to host the competition was instructive. In spite of Qatar’s promise to cool the stadia and the fan zones during the World Cup, some issues were still made about the weather during summer and fifa will later decide whether the 2022 edition will hold in winter or in summer.
Some Europeans say that summer will be too hot and that playing the World Cup during winter will disrupt their leagues. Al Thawadi made it clear that Qatar will be ready to host the World Cup at any time, be it summer or in winter. But he added that they presented a bid to host the World Cup in summer and won the bid. The cooling technology that will be developed for the World Cup, he also hopes, would be a legacy that could pave the way for other countries with similar weather to adopt and host similar events.
“Our bid was to host the World Cup in summer but we are ready for any period, in summer or in winter. The cooling legacy is for us and the whole world so that countries with same weather can aspire to host the World Cup too,” al Thawadi said.
Nasser al Khater who is in charge of communications and marketing, while meeting with media men yesterday, reiterated their determination to make the 2022 World Cup a legacy that could change things in the world of football and sports in general, saying “when we talk about the cooling technology, some people think it is a propaganda. It is not. We already have one stadium with it and we want to improve on it.” He spoke about the mechanisms that would make the World Cup a huge success in Qatar.
Al Thawadi did not fail to remind all of the benefits the World Cup can create and that they intend to exploit them to the fullest.
“There are economic and social benefits. There are human perspectives and even environmental benefits not only for the people of Qatar but also for the Middle East,” he said, adding “the investment that Qatar 2022 is making today will pay dividends for generations to come, in line with the nation’s vision of a healthy and prosperous global future.”
Jim Herevin of Zaha Architects and Zaha Halid yesterday made a presentation to stakeholders including the media, architects and engineers from all over the world on the design of the Al Wakrah Stadium which will be the first to be built among the six new stadiums so listed.
Others will be upgraded.
The 40,000 capacity stadium will be capable of hosting group stage, round of 16 and quarter final matches. It will have a natural grass pitch cooled to an optimal temperature of 26 degrees celsius and spectator stands which will be cooled to a supremely comfortable 24-28 degrees celsius.
Al Wakrah is one of the oldest areas in the country. The people are largely fishermen and the stadium design of dhow boat is to reflect the seafaring identity and general heritage of the people.
It is 15 kilometres South of Doha and will be linked by road and rail.
Al Thawadi rounded off this way: “We’ll produce an amazing experience for the players and fans. It’s all about amazing designs, amazing technology, amazing legacy and this is the beginning of something good for football and our people.”