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Stadium model


Stadium model

As construction on half a dozen 2022 World Cup stadiums gets underway in Qatar, local researchers have started 3D-printing models of the venues to see how they handle different temperatures.

The stadium components are being printed and assembled by scientists at Qatar University (QU)’s College of Engineering.

In a statement, World Cup organizers said the models are being run through a wind tunnel simulation to see how they respond to climate changes.

Wind tunnel


Wind tunnel

The goal is to ensure a comfortable stadium environment while being environmentally-friendly and cost-effective, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SCDL) added.

How it works

According to QU Engineering Prof. Dr. Saud Abdul Aziz Abdu Ghani, laser beams and analytic software track what happens when the models are run through the wind tunnel.

He continued:

“We can see the temperature per tier, add in variants such as sweat produced and amount of spectators, and then run the simulation and see the effect on the temperature inside the stadium.

For the cooling, we want a minimal amount of air to go in, and we want the air inside to stay there. We can change the direction and simulate different wind directions at this facility.”

So far, two stadiums – Al Bayt (Al Khor) and Al Wakrah – have been tested. A model of the upcoming Al Thumama Stadium is now being printed for testing, Abdu Ghani added.

Changes made

Over the past six months, data compiled by QU’s team has helped the SCDL better engineer its stadiums, Yasir Al Jamal, Vice Chairman – Technical Delivery Office said.

He added that in addition to aerodynamic modifications, the research has made it possible to reduce the amount of steel needed for the stadium roofs.

Al Bayt Al Khor stadium


Al Bayt Al Khor stadium

“(This) will reduce energy and capital costs, and reduces the effect on the environment. In effect we are minimising the effect on the environment, as well as the cost and the operational cost,” he said.

For their part, QU researchers such as Abdu Ghani said the wind tunnel was also recently used to test the design of an upcoming stadium in Brussels.

“In Qatar we need to keep the cold in the stadiums, but in Belgium the challenge was to keep the rain out. We had to look at different types of rain and see how the spectators would be able to remain dry at all times, including the wind factor,” he said.

He added that aerodynamics testing is “the future” of building design and the wind tunnel was helping Qatar leave its mark in this regard.


Al Rayyan Stadium rendering


Al Rayyan Stadium rendering

The main construction contract for another 2022 World Cup stadium in Qatar was awarded this week to a joint venture of Qatar-based Al Balagh Trading & Contracting and India’s largest construction firm, Larsen & Toubro Ltd.

The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SCDL) said yesterday that the JV will be tasked with rebuilding Al Rayyan Stadium in three year’s time.

In a statement, SCDL secretary-general Hassan Al Thawadi said:

“This marks an important milestone in our progress and preparations. The impact of this stadium and its surrounding precinct will be felt long before the stadium is finished.”

The committee did not immediately respond to questions about the value of the contract. However, Reuters cited an unnamed government official as pegging the price tag at $135 million.

The upcoming 40,000-seat Al Rayyan Stadium has already received a design award this year from a panel of international sports facility experts.

The stadium’s facade is formed from seven patterns representing different aspects of Qatari culture that blend together to form a single design.

The shapes draw on Islamic geometric influences and are similar to the theme seen in the facade of the Burj Qatar building in West Bay/Dafna.

Structures housing hospitality zones, concession areas and other services will be built to resemble sand dunes and will dot the stadium grounds.

The area around the stadium will include a mosque, aquatics center, shaded walkways, cycling and running tracks, outdoor fitness equipment as well as a new branch of sports medicine service provider Aspetar, the SCDL has said.


Al Rayyan Stadium is being constructed some 20km west of Doha’s city center on the former site of the now-deconstructed Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium.

The old facility was supposed to be refurbished for the World Cup, but was torn down instead to meet FIFA’s technical requirements.

Demolition of Al Rayyan stadium


Demolition of Al Rayyan stadium

In addition to demolishing the old facility, construction crews have already been busy excavating at the stadium site in preparation for the main contractors to start work.

By early April, some 210,000 cubic meters of rock and sand had been removed from the area as workers dug down 6m for the foundation, parking areas and new pitch, the SCDL said at the time.

The new Al Rayyan Stadium is scheduled to be completed by 2019, three years before the start of the World Cup.

After the tournament, its capacity will be reduced from 40,000 to 20,000 and the facility will become the new home of the Al-Rayyan Sports Club.

Al Rayyan Stadium design


Al Rayyan Stadium design

The stadium is one of at least eight that will be used for the World Cup. Five, including Al Rayyan, are currently under construction and all are scheduled to be completed by 2020.

Earlier this week, the SCDL posted a notice in local newspapers asking construction firms to officially indicate their interest in leading the construction of another World Cup stadium.

SCDL did not immediately respond to a request for more information on that project.


Labor City gates

Peter Kovessy

Labor City gates

Early last month, a team of journalists from the Danish Broadcasting Corp. visited Qatar to film a documentary about the country’s preparations to host the 2022 World Cup. When they arrived at the Labor City housing project with their cameras, they were arrested by Qatari officials and taken away to a police station for a day of intense questioning.

In an opinion piece recently published by the Danish Broadcasting Corp. and shared here with permission, director and presenter Niels Borchert Holm recounts the experience.  

We have only just reached Labor City when the white SUV pulls up behind us. The driver, wearing a thobe and aviator sunglasses, gets out and angrily tells us to stop filming. Having called his superior to the scene, he collects our passports and orders us to follow them to the police station.

We were in Doha to record a documentary for the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, DR2, about FIFA’s controversial choice of Qatar as host of the 2022 football World Cup.

Niels Borchert Holm


Niels Borchert Holm

After a brief drive, we arrive at a nondescript three-story building. The courtyard is lined with a row of SUVs, a shiny blue and gray Rolls-Royce parked in the middle.

We are led into an office with a third man, also in a thobe, behind his desk. A series of rapid fire questions follows: Who are you, what are you doing here, where is your permission?

Accused of trespass

We explain what is all true: That we’re journalists from the Danish Broadcasting Corp., on our way to film GULF Contracting Company laborers prepare for the Workers Cup final; that we’ve received permission to record from the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the tournament organizers, and the coach of the team in question; that we’ve informed the Government Communications Office and PR-company Portland (Communication) of our plans.

The man behind the desk, who until now has only addressed his colleagues, replies in English: “You are at the police station. Don’t be afraid. We are doing this for the safety of our country. People cannot come and film here without permission. You have been trespassing.”

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Shehan Peruma/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

It turns out our permissions are not sufficient. Now our cell phones are taken, too. We’re brought outside again, where we sign a document allowing our car to be searched.

After this we are separated and put into different rooms of the police station, with no explanation of what is to come. Through windows we can see the Grand Mall just outside of Labor City, which houses around 40,000 workers from Nepal, Bangladesh, India and numerous African countries.

The austere conditions of migrant workers have become Qatar’s publicity Achilles heel, and it is what brought us to the country. It was our intention to cover the Workers Cup final and have a chance to speak with the people on whose backs the World Cup is being built.

‘Confessions’ in Arabic

That plan now seems somewhat naïve and not likely to pan out. After four hours of detention, it’s well past noon, and no one will tell us what is going on. What is our offense? Are there any charges against us? Will we be released soon?

Repeated requests that the policemen identify themselves are ignored; they are from the Criminal Investigations Department, they say. Can we have a copy of the legal documents, all of which are in Arabic, that we’re made to sign? “Sorry, no,” they reply.

A street at Labor City, on the outskirts of Doha

Peter Kovessy

A street at Labor City, on the outskirts of Doha

The arresting officer returns carrying documents. These are your confessions, he says.

What? Confessions of what? Claiming to be translating, he reads aloud: “I have been filming in Qatar without a permission, and I have been trespassing.” We sign and leave our inked fingerprints on the documents.

By this time, we‘ve given up on claiming legal rights.

The reason given for our arrest – that we had permissions in the form of emails rather than printed copies – seems completely arbitrary, a pretense to detain and interrogate us.

It no longer feels conspiratorial to suspect a set-up: We had informed everyone and anyone of our plans to be here this morning, and the policeman was ready the second we entered the area.

Anonymous interrogators

Late in the afternoon we take turns in another round of interrogations. Four new men have arrived, and the interrogator does nothing to hide that his interest is different from simple police issues.

“Who paid you to come to Qatar? Why do you want to record the Workers Cup final? What is the message of your documentary?” We repeat that we want to depict the love of football among Qatar’s many workers.

Our answers don’t impress him, and he goes one step further, demanding names and information of people we’ve met with and recorded.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.


Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Again we ask about the identity of the interrogators. We represent the Ministry of Interior, that’s all you need to know, he replied.

Absurdly, the conversation then turns to journalistic standards and ethics.

Why are the media so critical of Qatar, he asks us. Why don’t journalists tell the positive stories? Well, one is tempted to reply, let’s start with this situation. Detaining journalists for days is hardly the way to achieve better coverage.

In the end, we’re made to handwrite a statement: I will not record interviews with workers, or film stadiums under construction in Qatar without government permission. Resigned, we sign and thumb-stamp another meaningless document.

Oh, just one more thing: the memory cards containing our recordings from that morning. “The Ministry of Interior” has decided to keep those.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Jung-nam Nam/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Another period of waiting ensues. We’re in our tenth hour inside the police station. Our anxiety over the outcome keeps growing. If the goal of the day was to scare us, well, then mission accomplished.

Most likely, we think, we’ll get to spend the night in a cell. But then we’re gathered in the entry hall and brought back into the office of the police chief. The quartet from “the Ministry of Interior” has gone, leaving only the arresting officer to deal with us.

Flight home

“You’ll be free to go in a moment,” he says. “Next time, you should really be more careful. We’re doing this to protect you.” He returns our passports and cell phones and follows us to our car, smiling.

Out in the street, we’re confused. What just happened? It’s evening and we drive back to our hotel. We buy tickets for the first morning flight out and pack our bags.

In the middle of the night we check out and go the airport, wary of being followed and concerned about whether we will get to leave the country. Is this now over?

For illustrative purposes only.

Roger H. Goun / Flickr

For illustrative purposes only.

Of course it is, everything went according to plan. Another crew of journalists goes home without evidence of how workers are treated in Qatar, and they’re not likely to return.

Key questions

Having reflected on this experience, we have just a few simple questions for the Qatari authorities.

What is so important to hide about workers’ living and working conditions that it is better to jail and interrogate journalists, to confiscate their work?

And looking forward, what do you intend to do? Next time, you’ll be dealing with more than a small Danish film crew. If all goes according to plan, you’ll be welcoming thousands of journalists for the World Cup in six years.

What will you do then, lock up all ungrateful journalists? Or will the people who built your stadiums and infrastructure be put away?

Editor’s note:

Niels Borchert Holm is not the first foreign journalist to be apprehended in Qatar in recent times.

Last year, BBC journalists were arrested by Criminal Investigations Division (CID) officials in Doha’s Industrial Area. They were released without charge, but their equipment was seized and not returned.

A few months before that, German broadcast journalist Florian Bauer was also detained by police in Qatar. He was accused of filming without a permit. It took more than three weeks for his cellphone, laptop and external hard drive to be returned to him in Germany. His laptop had been damaged and his electronic devices had had their memories wiped, he said. 

Bauer said Qatar state media authorities apologized for his ordeal and offered to pay for his hotel room and flight home, but he declined.

Holm, meanwhile, told Doha News that he received a phone call from Qatar’s Government Communications Office after his release inviting him to a meeting the next day, but he chose not to attend and has not spoken to local officials since.