31 March 2021 marks the 600-day countdown to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.
The first World Cup in the Middle East and Arab world will kick off on 21 November and conclude 28 days later on 18 December – Qatar National Day.
Qatar’s infrastructure plans are well advanced. Four stadiums have been inaugurated, the new metro system is up and running, and a host of expressways have been built.
Here, we take a closer look at the eight stadiums which will host matches during Qatar 2022. Khalifa International, Al Janoub, Education City and Ahmad Bin Ali have all hosted major matches, while the construction of Al Bayt has been completed. Along with Al Bayt, Al Thumama and Ras Abu Aboud are set to be inaugurated during 2021, while the venue for the Qatar 2022 final, Lusail, is set to open early next year.
To mark 600 days to go, we take an in-depth look at the story of each stadium.
Khalifa International Stadium
Distance from Doha city centre: 11km (7 miles)
Khalifa International became the first Qatar 2022 venue to open following a major renovation when it hosted the Amir Cup final on 19 May 2017. The stadium is set to host eight matches up to the third-place play-off during Qatar 2022.
Khalifa International is located at the heart of Qatar’s hub of sporting excellence, Aspire Zone, and is surrounded by Aspire Academy, Aspetar and the 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum. Its illustrious hosting history includes the Asian Games, AFC Asian Cup, 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships, the 24th Arabian Gulf Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2019™. In 2020, the stadium hosted matches in the West Zone of the 2020 AFC Champions League and was also a venue for the East Zone portion of the competition.
Al Janoub Stadium
Design inspired by: Dame Zaha Hadid
Distance from Doha city centre: 23km (14 miles)
The first Qatar 2022 stadium to be built from scratch, Al Janoub was inaugurated on 16 May 2019 ahead of the Amir Cup final. Located in Al Wakrah, the stadium’s design features elegant curves and lines inspired by the sails of traditional dhow boats – in tribute to the city’s seafaring past. Al Janoub will host seven matches up to the round of 16 stage during Qatar 2022. An innovative cooling system and retractable roof mean the stadium can be used all-year-round.
Last year, Al Janoub hosted the 2020 AFC Champions League final. The surrounding Al Janoub Park opened on Qatar National Sports Day in February 2020.
Education City Stadium
Designer: FIA Fenwick Iribarren Architects
Distance from Doha city centre: 13km (8 miles)
Dubbed ‘Qatar’s Diamond in the Desert’, Education City was inaugurated on 15 June 2020 during a special digital launch which paid tribute to frontline healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Located at the heart of Qatar Foundation – a vibrant centre for knowledge and innovation – the arena is dotted by leading research and education facilities. The stadium will host eight matches up to the quarter-finals stage during Qatar 2022.
The stadium became the first Qatar 2022 tournament venue to receive a five-star Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) rating ahead of its inauguration. Last year, Education City hosted matches in the West Zone of the 2020 AFC Champions League and was also a venue for the East Zone portion of the competition. This year, Education City hosted matches during the FIFA Club World Cup 2020™, including the final.
Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium
Distance from Doha city centre: 22km (14 miles)
Ahmad Bin Ali was the latest Qatar 2022 stadium to be inaugurated. The venue welcomed fans for the first time on 18 December 2020 when it hosted the Amir Cup final. Located in Al Rayyan and adjacent to the Mall of Qatar, Ahmad Bin Ali is built on the site of a deconstructed stadium and is within walking distance of Al Riffa station on Doha Metro’s Green Line. The stadium’s glowing façade is comprised of patterns that characterise different aspects of Qatar: the importance of family, the beauty of the desert, native flora and fauna, and local and international trade. A fifth shape – a shield – brings together all the others, representing the strength and unity that is particularly relevant to the desert city of Al Rayyan.
The venue will host seven matches during Qatar 2022 up to the round of 16 stage. Earlier this year, the stadium hosted matches during the FIFA Club World Cup™.
Al Bayt Stadium
Designer: Dar Al-Handasah
Distance from Doha city centre: 46km (29 miles)
The venue for the opening match of Qatar 2022, Al Bayt will introduce fans from across the world to the country's traditional culture. Delivered by Aspire Zone Foundation, the design of Al Bayt resembles a traditional Arab tent known as 'bayt al sha'ar' – a symbol of Arab hospitality. This uniquely Qatari stadium comes complete with a state-of-the-art retractable roof and is surrounded by 400,000m² of green spaces for the local community. The venue will host nine matches through to the semi-finals stage of Qatar 2022.
Construction update: The stadium structure has been completed and is ready to host matches. This includes the laying of the stadium pitch in record time. This year, the venue achieved a high sustainability rating from GSAS. The surrounding Al Bayt Park opened on Qatar National Sports Day in February 2020.
Al Thumama Stadium
Designer: Arab Engineering Bureau
Distance from Doha city centre: 12km (7 miles)
With a design inspired by the 'gahfiya', a traditional woven cap worn for centuries by men across the Arab world, Al Thumama Stadium honours the region’s culture and traditions. It is the first FIFA World Cup venue to be designed by a Qatari architect – Ibrahim M. Jaidah. The stadium will host eight matches up to the quarter-finals stage during Qatar 2022.
Construction update: Roof and façade works have been completed, along with the stadium’s bleacher installation. Turfing of the field of play and tree plantation in the precinct have also been completed. Seat installation, along with mechanical, electrical and plumbing works, plus finishing, are nearing completion.
Ras Abu Aboud Stadium
Designer: FIA Fenwick Iribarren Architects
Distance from Doha city centre: 7km (4 miles)
Ras Abu Aboud will be the first fully dismountable and re-usable tournament venue in FIFA World Cup history, making it a pioneer in sustainable stadium development and design. Designed by Fenwick Iribarren Architects, this 40,000-capacity venue is being built using shipping containers and other modular materials. Overlooking the stunning Doha Corniche and West Bay skyline, the stadium will host seven matches up to the round of 16 stage during Qatar 2022.
Construction update: The stadium is being built using 974 modular containers, with the delivery and installation of all containers now completed. This includes special containers for the energy substation. All remaining structural steel members, including tension rods, have also been delivered and installed. Installation of all seats in the stadium is nearing completion, as are the mechanical, engineering, plumbing and finishing works. External works in the precinct are underway.
Designer: Foster + Partners
Distance from Doha city centre: 20km (12 miles)
The largest Qatar 2022 venue, Lusail embodies Qatar's ambition, along with its passion for sharing Arab culture with the world. The design of this magnificent stadium is inspired by the interplay of light and shadow that characterises the fanar lantern. Its striking gold façade, along with its scale, will impress fans approaching the venue from afar. The venue is situated in the heart of Qatar’s futuristic Lusail City – a newly built, state-of-the-art metropolis, designed specifically with residents’ needs in mind. The stadium will host ten matches up to and including the final of Qatar 2022.
Construction update: The stadium’s concrete works, steel superstructure installation and the roof big lift have been completed. The roof membrane is under fabrication, to be installed after completion of the ongoing secondary steel bracings. The venue’s turf was planted in the precinct’s turf farm in August 2020, with inspections indicating good growth progress and overall health. Meanwhile, the stadium entrances, interior finishes and progress in concourses, skyboxes and lounges are nearing completion, as are the mechanical, engineering, plumbing and finishing works. Additionally, the stadium substations, chilled water transfer stations and cooling systems are nearing completion with preparation for Qatar Civil Defense inspection.