One of the stadiums that will be used during the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar is the Al Janoub Stadium. Formerly known as the Al-Wakrah Stadium, this traditional dhow boat-shaped venue will host several football matches.
Zaha Hadid took inspiration to the design of the dhow boats which are found in the Gulf Region.1 The architect then combines the traditional look of the boat with the futuristic shape of the arena. The result was a stunning stadium witnessed by thousands of football fans.
The stadium is located in the southern city of Al Wakrah and will have a seating capacity of 40,000. It was inaugurated on May 16, 2019, since it was started in 2014. It was one of the few stadiums to have been completed ahead of its schedule.
The Global Sustainability System or GSAS gave the Al Janoub Stadium a Class A Rating for its design and features. Roads and highways were also upgraded to accommodate the influx of vehicles that are expected for each match. However, to cut off carbon footprints, more buses will be deployed which can carry more people as compared to cars.
Interesting Facts About The Al Janoub Stadium
Al Janoub Stadium will host 16 matches on the group stage.
The structure is shaped like a traditional dhow boat. The curves and bends in the design of the stadium highlight what the traditional water vessel looks like to the visitors.
A beautiful park will greet footballing fans before they get to the stadium. Spaces have been maximized into green areas where people can visit before and after each game. More than 800 trees were planted to provide shade and offer comfort to football fans.
The stadium has an advanced cooling system giving football fans a comfortable temperature. Thanks to its retractable roof, the inside of the stadium gets a better temperature.
The design although copied from the traditional Dhow Boats showcases clever aerodynamics and advanced engineering. This design provides better airflow.
The Al Janoub Stadium After the 2022 FIFA World Cup
Unlike in most countries after hosting the world cup, Qatar has revolutionized stadium’s sustainability. They believe that infrastructure has to be as efficient and effective even after the event it was built for is done. One of these stadiums is the Al Janoub Stadium. It will showcase the beauty of Qatar through its design and the technology that was employed during its construction. And just like most of their stadiums, it will be retrofitted, refurbished, and reconstructed into a more manageable stadium.
From a 40,000 seater stadium, it will be converted into a 40,000 seater arena.2 The 20,000 seats will be donated to several countries to help promote football and show the country’s innovative nature not to mention its capacity to connect with other nations.
Its designers believe that this stadium will be a boon not only to the country but to the very city it sits. It will be turned into a hub in the region where other international activities can be held.
The coastal city of Al Wakrah, 20 kilometers south of Doha, has inaugurated the building designed by Zaha Hadid Architects – in collaboration with the engineering firm Aecom – which will be one of the venues of the FIFA World Cup of 2022. Among the new-build stadiums commissioned for the event, it is the first to be completed. The design draws inspiration from the dhow, the region’s traditional sailing vessels. The construction takes in 40,000 spectators but this capacity will be cut in half when the tournament is over and the building becomes home to the Al Wakrah Sports Club team. The remaining modular stands will be transferred to a developing country in need of sports facilities. Besides a fully retractable roof, the stadium combines passive and mechanical cooling systems to battle Qatar’s high temperatures.
The 2022 matches will be played in eight official sites. Amont them are: Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, renovated in 2017; Lusail Iconic Stadium (for 80,000 spectators), by Foster + Partners; and Ras Abu Aboud Stadium in Doha, a work of the Spanish firm Fenwick Iribarren.
Inaugurated on 16 May 2019 by hosting the Amir Cup Final of the Qatar Stars national football league, Al Janoub Stadium was the first new stadium commissioned for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar. Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) together with Aecom began designing the stadium along with its new precinct for the city in March 2013. As one of the eight venues for the Qatar World Cup, Al Janoub Stadium will host group and quarter-final matches of the tournament and is located in Al Wakrah, a coastal city 23km south of Doha connected to the capital via the Red Line of the new Doha Metro system.
The client’s brief called for a 40,000-seat football stadium for the 2022 World Cup which could be reduced to a 20,000-seat capacity in its legacy mode following the tournament. 20,000 seats is the optimum capacity for legacy use as the home ground to Al Wakrah Sport Club professional football team of the Qatar Stars national league. These temporary seats have been designed to be demountable and transported to a country in need of sporting infrastructure for post-tournament usage. Further temporary accommodation such as concessions are required for the additional capacity of FIFA World Cup tournament mode. This has been built as a temporary overlay outside the permanent footprint and enclosure of the stadium in its legacy mode.
The stadium has an operable roof designed by Schlaich Bergermann Partner and a seating bowl cooling system that ensures the stadium is can be used during Qatar’s summer months. The operable roof has been designed in sympathy with the cladding using pleated PTFE fabric and cables. When its deployed, the roof operates like a sail to cover the oculus above the field of play and create a sheltered environment for football during the summer. Passive design principles along with computer modelling and wind tunnel tests were used to maximise the effectiveness of the stadium enclosure to ensure player and spectator comfort.
Given the stadium’s context within the coastal city of Al Wakrah, the client asked that its design reflect the maritime heritage of its location; in particular, the traditional boat of the region, the dhow. ZHA responded with a design that incorporates these cultural references in an abstracted manner and combines them with practical responses to the climate, context and the functional requirements of a football stadium. The abstraction transforms the literal into something new and appropriate for a football stadium; allowing multiple interpretations of these cultural references both in terms of how they are applied and how they are read.
The stadium’s roof design is an abstraction of the hulls of dhows turned upside-down and huddled together to provide shade and shelter. This is expressed in the stadium’s envelope geometry, details and selected materiality, including the roof’s beam structure that echoes the interior structure of a dhow’s hull.
The facades of the stadium are slanted outwards, tapered in elevation and reminiscent of dhow’s sail. The image of the dhow is further emphasized through the large overhang of the stadium’s eaves that incorporates strips of metal cladding echoing the timber structures used in a dhow.
The stadium’s opaque roof and wall areas are expressed as pleated cross sections. This feature, which has its origins in Arabic motifs and calligraphy, adds texture to the outer shell and also emphasizes the stadium’s unique geometry. The external cladding materials are deliberately selected from a limited palette of materials and choice of colours; namely white for the roof and wall cladding, and darker colours for the areas below the eaves, including the lower level glazed walls with its ornamental lattice screen print that provides shading.
The colour scheme for the external building envelope dovetails with its geometric forms and reinforces the articulation of the outer skin. The roof cladding and opaque surface areas above the eaves are white or off-white in colour with a gloss surface finish that is reminiscent of sea shells and emphasizes the pleats which add texture to the building envelope. The embossed eaves and the lattice screen print of the glazed lower-level facades are metallic bronze in colour, adding a sense of richness and depth to the design. The choice of a bronze metallic finish of these worked surfaces pays homage to the traditions and artistry of Islamic craftsmanship.
The stadium sits on a large landscaped podium that takes visitors from grade to the entry level main entry concourse located at the middle of the seating bowl’s tiers. This podium connects the stadium into the adjacent landscape and reduces its scale. Large parabolic voids within the podium signify different activity zones. On the eastern side, voids allow for the majority of spectators to arrive and depart from the stadium. The north eastern void will include a community market whilst the south eastern void hosts an activity park. To the west, the parabolic void within the podium allows for vehicle access and drop off at grade for the players, officials and dignitaries.
Designed in conjunction with a new precinct so that its sits at the heart of an urban extension of the city, creating community based activities in and around the stadium on non-event days, Al Janoub Stadium will be a memorable venue and destination during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar and afterwards, at the centre of its Al Wakrah community.
Al Janoub Stadium hosts Amir Cup final
In the presence of His Highness the Amir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and in front of a capacity crowd of 40,000, Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah City hosted the Amir Cup final on Thursday night to become the second fully operational FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ tournament venue. Following the successful inauguration of the redeveloped Khalifa International Stadium in May 2017, Al Janoub Stadium also becomes the first Qatar 2022 venue to be built from scratch – three-and-a-half years ahead of the big kick-off. Qatar Football Association (QFA) and the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), the organisation responsible for delivering the infrastructure required for Qatar 2022, jointly announced the venue would host the Amir Cup final 2019 in April – and under the patronage of His Highness the Amir, the opening game at the venue was a resounding success.
On the night, Al Duhail beat Al Sadd 4-1 to win the Amir Cup for the third time in four seasons. It was a disappointing night for legendary midfielder Xavi Hernandez, who will retire from playing at the end of the season after spending four seasons with the Wolves.
After spectacular pre-match activities – featuring local music, poetry, performance and stunning visual effects, all paying homage to Al Wakrah’s seafaring past – the stadium hosted its first game.
H.E Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmad Al Thani, QFA President, said: “I am delighted that in the presence of His Highness the Amir – and along with our colleagues and stakeholders – Al Janoub Stadium has successfully launched with the 2019 edition of the country’s most prestigious football event – the Amir Cup final.
“I wish to extend my congratulations to both Al Duhail and Al Sadd, whose performances were fitting of this magnificent occasion, and thank all those who have worked together to ensure this event was a resounding success.”
SC Secretary General, H.E Hassan Al Thawadi, added: “The launch of Al Janoub Stadium represents another momentous milestone on the road to 2022. During the bid we told the world to expect amazing and with this magnificent stadium launch – along with the six others to follow – I am proud to report we are delivering on that promise.
“To have completed this stadium with more than three years to go is another source of pride for us and our many stakeholders across the State of Qatar. I look forward to continuing our work together to ensure the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is one of the most memorable editions in the tournament’s long and illustrious history.”
Al Janoub Stadium is located 23km south of Doha’s city centre, and in 2022 will host matches until the quarter-finals stage of the FIFA World Cup™.
The stadium was designed by architectural icon Zaha Hadid, who was inspired by the sails of traditional dhow boats to produce a concept which honours Al Wakrah’s past, while looking forward to its bright future.
The venue, which will become the home of popular QNB Stars League team Al Wakrah Sports Club post-2022, is fitted with innovative cooling technology. Thanks to its modular nature, the stadium’s capacity will be reduced to 20,000 after the tournament, with the excess seats – from the upper tier – being donated to football development projects overseas.
Yasir Al Jamal, Vice Chairman of the Technical Delivery Office at the SC and Chairman of the Host Country Operations Office, said: “Seeing 40,000 fans at Al Janoub Stadium for the Amir Cup final was a huge honour for everyone involved in the project. I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this feat, including the SC team, our various contractors and consultants. A huge thank you also to all of the Qatari companies who have been involved in the construction of the stadium – we are proud that more than 50 per cent of the project budget was invested in the local economy.”
Al Jamal continued: “The successful delivery of Al Janoub Stadium wouldn’t have been possible without outstanding collaboration between the project team and our stakeholders across the country. We are very proud to have delivered a state-of-the-art venue that is sure to become a fans’ favourite in 2022.”
Nasser Al Khater, Chief Executive Officer, FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 LLC, said: “We have tonight – alongside our stakeholders – delivered a second world-class and fully operational stadium, fit to host the world’s greatest football competition in 2022. Work on this stadium began in 2014, and to reach where we are today in such a short period of time is a remarkable achievement for all involved.
“The stadium itself will, I’m certain, become one of the most iconic venues in 2022 and we will remember tonight for many years to come. With progress at each of the other six sites rapidly advancing, we can also look forward to many more moments like this in the years leading up to the tournament – as we prepare to welcome the world to Qatar in 2022.”
Al Janoub Stadium Project Manager, ThaniKhalifa Al Zarraa, said: “It has been an incredible journey for everyone involved in the construction of this magnificent stadium. The venue looks amazing and that is testament to the hard work of everyone involved. It is a privilege to say we were the ones who delivered the first stadium from scratch for Qatar 2022.”
Tournament capacity: 40,000
Distance from Doha city centre: 23km
Design: The design is inspired by the sails of traditional dhow boats, in tribute to Al Wakrah’s seafaring past. An innovative cooling system and retractable roof mean the stadium will be used all year round. The stadium was designed by Zaha Hadid.
Tournament mode: FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ quarter-finals venue.
Legacy mode: Home of Al Wakrah Sports Club. Thanks to its modular nature, the stadium’s capacity will be reduced to 20,000 after the tournament, with the excess seats – from the upper tier – being donated to football development projects overseas.
Precinct facilities: Various sporting facilities, including a cycling and running track, horse riding areas and other green spaces. In addition, there will be a marketplace and community facilities, such as a mosque and school.
Inauguration: The stadium will host the 2019 Amir Cup final on 16 May 2019.
Main contractor: Joint venture between MIDMAC, Sixco and PORR Qatar.
Project manager: KEO International Consultants.
Boosting the local economy: A number of Qatari companies have been involved with the delivery of Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah City, including MIDMAC and PORR Qatar, Coastal, which has manufactured the stadium seats, and Sulb, which has manufactured the steel required for the stadium. More than 50% of the investment to build the stadium has supported the Qatari economy.
Cooling technology: Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah City will benefit from innovative cooling technology designed and delivered by Qatari experts.
A heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system will cool the spectator areas using under-seat supply terminals at low velocities. More than 100 air ventilation units – split evenly between the lower and upper tiers – will serve the stadium bowl. The cooling source for the stadium bowl HVAC system will be chilled water from a district cooling system. The maximum speed flow at spectator level will be 1m/s.
The pitch cooling system comprises eight air handling units (AHU): four on the east side and four on the west. Each AHU feed will connect to a plenum that runs along the pitch below the spectator seating. This plenum then feeds a number of jet nozzles that supply air across the pitch and into the field of play. The maximum speed flow at pitch level will be 10m/s.
Transport: Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah City is served by a network of new expressways and roads which provide easy access to residents and visitors to both Al Wakrah and Doha. The stadium will be served by Al Wakrah station on the Red Line of Doha Metro. The station is located 4.5km from the stadium and will be served by shuttle bus services on match days. The precinct has dedicated bus stops, interconnected cycling paths and safe pedestrian routes.
Sustainability: Al JanoubStadium in Al Wakrah City has achieved three sustainability certifications:
1. Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) Design & Build Certificate – 4-star for sustainable design
2. GSAS Construction Management Certificate Class A* sustainability rating, recognising the project’s extensive efforts to protect the environment during construction.
3. Seasonal Energy Efficiency ratio certificate for energy centre
The pitch: The turf used for the playing surface was grown at the Al Wakrah turf farm. The pitch was laid for the first time in March, in a record time of just 9 hours 15 minutes.
The roof: Weighing 378t and measuring 92m, the steel structure – known as an ‘oculus beam’ – sits 50m above pitch level It will connect and support the entire roof, while providing maintenance access to some of the retractable parts of the structure. The beam was welded and assembled onsite over 20 days. Originally six pieces, the structure was built on temporary frames before being lifted into place. The entire welding, assembly and installation process took 40 days. The retractable roof can close in approximately 30 minutes using a number of steel wires. The roof will provide shade to the entire pitch and contribute to the efficiency of the stadium’s innovative cooling system.
Next generation cooling technology: Al Janoub Stadium
Dr Saud Abdul-Ghani, Professor at the College of Engineering at Qatar University, has been involved in developing cooling technology for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ since the country announced its bid for the tournament in 2009. Dr Saud led the installment of cooling technology at the redeveloped Khalifa International Stadium, which was inaugurated in 2017. Here, he explains how the technology will work at Al Wakrah Stadium, which will be inaugurated when it hosts the Amir Cup final on 16 May. As well as explaining how the technology has developed over the past two years, Dr Saud discusses the potential health benefits for the local population.
How will the cooling technology work in Al Wakrah Stadium?
We use the platform of the stadium to defend it against the infiltration of warm wind. This means the stadium is a barrier that is basically containing a cold bubble inside. The technology works by maintaining the cold bubble for as long as necessary in order for people to watch the game, and so the players are comfortable.
How does the cooling technology at Al Wakrah Stadium differ from Khalifa International Stadium?
Every stadium has its own unique personality, form and structure. Khalifa International Stadium is a mature stadium with an athletics track. Inherently, the stadium has a big oculus and this challenge demanded unconventional treatment.
As Khalifa is a well-established, existing stadium we couldn’t implement all the technology we wanted as we were bound by existing concrete structures and a lack of free space. We couldn’t, for example, provide under-seat cooling but we used small nozzles which deliver the exact amount of cold air required for people to enjoy the game comfortably.
At Al Wakrah Stadium, we are using an air circulation technique, which means we draw back some of the air that has been cooled already, re-cool it and then push it back to the supporters and players.
At Khalifa we were taking fresh air and pushing it to people. This is the reason the technology at Al Wakrah is much more efficient than at Khalifa. Moreover, a new line of under-seat diffusers has been developed in order to deliver the air to fans in a gentle manner.
How proud will you feel on 16 May when people experience the cooling technology at Al Wakrah Stadium for the first time?
We had a trial recently and – I shouldn’t say this – but I was so happy that I cried. We’ve worked so hard to deliver this project and I remember when the stadium was simply a small model made out of plastic. At Qatar University, we’ve spent hours and hours in the wind tunnel, hours and hours in the lab trying to optimise the opening of the roof and the height of the stadium. But now we’re delivering the cooling and it’s good to see it’s not only on paper anymore – it’s the realisation of a team effort.
What about the other Qatar 2022 stadiums?
For the other stadiums we have had the privilege of being involved in the design since day one. During every project we learn and develop the technology. I hope the country is enjoying our work and sees the benefits of it. This is a huge team effort – it’s not just engineering, we have so many people involved in the delivery, it’s a collective effort. Our cooling technology research group at Qatar University is supported by the SC and Aspire Zone Foundation, and we have strong collaboration.
What’s the potential for this technology across Qatar?
Active participation in sports and outdoor activities is one of the most important tools to produce healthy generations capable of pushing the pace of development in the country. If you go to Katara, you’ll notice the walkway in the new plaza is 100% cooled. We’re starting to develop cool walkways across the country, in a scientific way that will be environmentally-friendly and will not put any pressure on the electricity or water networks. This will be great for encouraging people to get out and walk during the summer and take full advantage of Qatar Rail and the neighborhood markets. I hope this will boost the health of the population and help the country spend less on healthcare, such as diabetes and hypertension.
Al Janoub Stadium: Five Key Facts
On 16 May Al Janoub Stadium will host the 2019 Amir Cup final and become the second tournament-ready venue to be inaugurated ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™. Here are five key facts about the stadium, which is set to become a significant landmark in Al Wakrah and one of the iconic venues of Qatar 2022.
1. It’s the first FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ stadium to be built from scratch
The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy broke ground at Al Wakrah in 2014. Five years later, the stadium has become the first FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ tournament venue to be built from scratch. It’s the second tournament-ready stadium to be inaugurated after Khalifa International Stadium, which underwent an extensive redevelopment before hosting the 2017 Amir Cup final.
2. The stadium was designed by legendary architect ZahaHadid
The late Iraqi-British architect ZahaHadid was inspired by traditional dhow boats and aimed to highlight Al Wakrah’s traditional industries, including fishing and pearling, along with the city’s exciting future, with her distinctive and futuristic design. The final stadium design was produced by AECOM, in association with ZahaHadid Architects. Hadid was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004 and she won the UK’s most prestigious architectural award, the Stirling Prize, in 2010 and 2011.
3. The stadium’s cooling technology is state-of-the-art
The stadium has a 92m retractable roof that will provide shade to the pitch, contribute to the efficiency of the stadium’s innovative cooling technology and protect the interior of the stadium from harsh weather conditions. The heating, ventilation and air conditioning system installed at Al Wakrah Stadium will cool the spectator areas using under-seat supply terminals at low velocities. More than 100 air ventilation units – split evenly between the lower and upper tiers – will serve the stadium bowl. The pitch cooling system comprises eight air handling units: four on the east side and four on the west. Each unit will connect to a plenum that runs along the pitch below the spectator seating. This plenum then feeds a number of jet nozzles that supply air across the pitch and into the field of play.
4. Qatari companies have made a major contribution to the stadium’s construction
The main contractor was a joint-venture between three companies, two from Qatar, Midmac and PORR Qatar, plus Belgian company Sixco. Local company Coastal Qatar has produced the stadium seats at its custom-built factory, while Solb26 has manufactured the steel required for the stadium. Meanwhile, another Qatari company, Urban Concept, laid the turf at the stadium in just 9 hours 15 minutes. More than 50% of the budget for Al Wakrah Stadium has been invested in the local economy.
5. The stadium is modular and its capacity will be reduced to 20,000 after the FIFA World Cup™
During the FIFA World Cup™, Al Wakrah will boast a capacity of 40,000 and host matches up to the quarter-finals stage. The top tier of the stadium will be removed after the tournament and donated to a country which needs sporting infrastructure. Post-2022, the stadium will become the home of popular Qatar Stars League side Al Wakrah Sports Club.
Jim Heverin, ZHA project director Al Janoub Stadium
Al Wakrah Stadium – the second tournament-ready venue for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ – was designed by the legendary architect ZahaHadid.The Iraqi-British icon passed away in 2016, meaning Al Wakrah Stadium was one of her final projects.
Jim Heverin, Director, ZahaHadid Architects, worked extensively on the original design concept for Al Wakrah Stadium and recently visited the completed venue for the first time.
Here he discusses the inspiration for the design and speculates on how Hadid would have reacted to seeing the finished stadium.
What are your initial thoughts on the completed stadium?
I’m amazed at how literal it is to the concept we drew. You’re always a little scared when you haven’t seen something for a while but I can only give credit to those who have delivered it because it really looks like our original concept.
It looks amazing – I’ve walked all around and it’s really enjoyable to see things that you thought about in the early stages. It’s looking fantastic inside and out.
With the design, we were trying to achieve something that’s unique and beautiful – but also something that’s very functional. I think we’ve achieved all those things and to be part of that is something to be proud of.
What inspired you to come up with a design like this?
We always challenge ourselves to do something unique. Football stadiums, in particular, are dictated by regulation these days which means they have become a little bit generic and repetitive. We wanted to respond to the client’s brief, which was to do something which resonated with Al Wakrah, so we started by looking at the dhow. We didn’t want to literally blow up a dhow boat so we looked at abstracting it in order to create something dynamic and organic – something that has multiple interpretations.
The stadium is quite circular in terms of its functionality but it’s not circular in terms of its appearance. It has different views from different parts of Al Wakrah – which is something we tried to achieve. I feel the design is engaging – to the point where people will like it and want to be associated with it. This project has a very civic aspect to it and the aim is for the stadium to represent Al Wakrah and become part of the iconography of what Al Wakrah is. If the stadium is adopted and well-loved, then it will be used – people will come here, not only on match days, and it will become a destination.
How important is it for new buildings to blend in to the natural landscape?
Well they can’t be invisible as that would take such an effort and wouldn’t be the right approach. It needs to be something that people orientate towards and recognise, something that becomes part of the civic fabric of the city. I think Al Wakrah will come to grow around it and that will only make it more successful because then you have a whole series of synergies in terms of other types of uses beside it which start to tie in with the growing city that is Al Wakrah.
What would ZahaHadid make of the finished stadium and how proud was she of being a part of the first FIFA World Cup™ in this region?
Zaha would have loved it. She wasn’t really into sport but she loved the spectacle, she loved the glamour and culturally she loved the fact that her part of the world was going to host such a massive event and be part of it. When we participated in London 2012 [by designing the Aquatics Centre], Zaha was really keen to get tickets and enjoy the experience as a spectator, and she would have been the same for football.Zaha was always super excited whenever she went to see a building completed because she had a lot of pain in her early career with failed commissions. This being very close to her homeland – and an area and culture she never lost an affinity and closeness to – would have been really important to her.
What do you think she would have said if she was here now?
She would have complained at first! But in the end she would be very, very happy. She would have been amazed at how true it is to what we set out to achieve, how well executed it is, with the beautiful folds and beautiful lines, and all the care and attention. When you see a design as reality it is very exciting and we would have been able to judge her excitement by the fact there would have been a few criticisms before she moved on and said how much she liked it.
Al Janoub Stadium Construction Manager: Thani Al Zarraa
Thani Al Zarraa was a young engineer when first tasked with managing the construction of Al Janoub Stadium. On that day, 33 months ago, he felt as any Qatari would: hugely honoured – while knowing he had been given massive responsibility.
A structural engineer by profession and a graduate from Griffith University in Australia, Al Zarraa joined the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) in 2013 and soon started doing feasibility studies for the then proposed host venues for the first FIFA World Cup™ in the Arab world.
“We were looking for sustainable designs that represented Qatar and its culture,” said Al Zarraa. “For Al Wakrah Stadium, we had various options from ZahaHadid and chose the dhow boat representation because it was the most relevant to the city’s seafaring past.”
Shortly after the stadium design was selected and revealed to the world, Al Zarraa was appointed to lead the team that would build the 40,000 capacity venue that would eventually become the first stadium built from scratch for the FIFA World Cup 2022™.
“When you’re first given a multi-million-dollar scope like this you feel it’s a big responsibility and, at the same time, a huge honour. Of course, I didn’t want to make any mistakes and worked daily with the guidance and follow-up of our senior management,” he continued.
Throughout the project, Al Zarraa worked tirelessly with his team to deliver a one-of-a-kind venue that would also become the heart of the Al Wakrah municipality. “We worked closely with the community and built a masterplan area with cycling and running tracks, and a community market, to ensure the area would be used by residents long after the World Cup has ended,” he said.
Since that day in 2015 when he first dove into the life of a project manager, Al Zarraa started to understand two things: that project management life “is not normal” and that teamwork is fundamental to the success of any project. “I’m very thankful to my team. They are hardworking, eager and keen. Our time together has been both challenging and enjoyable,” he said.
Fast forward almost four years to March 2019 and Al Zarraa oversaw the installation of the pitch at Al Wakrah Stadium in a world record time of just 9 hours 15 minutes. For anyone in the business, once a stadium under construction has a field of play, it becomes clear that the shift from construction into completion has begun.
“The day we laid the pitch I walked from goalpost to goalpost, or from where I imagined the goalposts would be, as they were not yet installed. I imagined the stadium packed with fans, two teams on the pitch, and in the presence of His Highness The Amir, and I got goose bumps,” he said.
Al Zarraa is still not sure what he will do when the crowds leave Al Wakrah Stadium after the final and the venue becomes silent again, but as a keen triathlete, cycling or running around the world-class stadium he has helped deliver may just do the trick until he has to go back to work. For Al Zarraa and us all, the road to 2022 continues.
Al Janoub Stadium: project team summaries
On 16 May 2019, the second FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ stadium will be unveiled when it hosts the Amir Cup final.
The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) broke ground at Al Janoub Stadium in 2014 and since then thousands of people from all over the world have made significant contributions to the development of the 40,000-capacity arena, which will host matches up to the quarter-finals stage during Qatar 2022.
To mark the first match at the stadium, we spoke to eleven people who have played a significant role in the venue’s development to find out their memorable moments and get an idea of how they’ll feel when the Zaha Hadid-designed venue opens for business.
Jassim Mohammed Telefat, Competition Venues Executive Director, joined the project in 2018.
“When we finished the seats, laid the turf and had the lights and sound up and running, it was a memorable moment. The pitch is probably my favourite part of the stadium as the turf was grown locally and is where the action will take place in 2022.
“It’s great to see the stadium completed and it will be very special when His Highness announces that the stadium is open and ready to host matches during the World Cup in 2022.”
Thani Al Zarraa became the Al Wakrah Stadium Project Manager in 2015.
“The day we laid the pitch I walked from goalpost to goalpost, or from where I imagined the goalposts would be, as they were not yet installed. I imagined the stadium packed with fans, two teams on the pitch, and in the presence of His Highness the Amir, and I got goose bumps.
“When I look back, I remember the engagement with the local community here in Al Wakrah and our efforts to build facilities they would use long after the World Cup has ended.
“I’m very proud of how far we’ve come. I’ve learned that project management life is not normal and that you can’t do anything without teamwork and strong collaboration. I’m very thankful to my hardworking and eager team. Our time together has been both challenging and enjoyable.”
Abdulaziz Al Ishaq played for Al Wakrah in the 1970s and for the past three years he’s worked as an engineer on the Al Wakrah Stadium project.
“Firstly, I am so proud to be part of this landmark in the State of Qatar. I believe I have now been able to do something for my nation; a nation which has done so much for me.
“The Amir Cup final is an important moment that we are all looking forward to. I was lucky enough to play in the Amir Cup final on two occasions for Al Wakrah, so this will be extra special for me.
“You cannot compare this stadium to any other. You can only compare it to an artist sitting down with a paintbrush and creating something. It’s not something you can create automatically on a computer – it is a piece of art. We were fortunate to have worked with Zaha Hadid and she gave us a really interesting and unique stadium. We are proud to have it here.”
Najla Al Obaidan has worked as a Senior Architect at Al Wakrah Stadium since the project started in September 2012.
“I joined the SC in the same week the tender process for Al Wakrah Stadium started and had the opportunity to meet all the bidders. I would say my favourite time was during late 2013 when I got the chance to work with Zaha Hadid Architects and AECOM to finalise the design.
“My favourite aspect of the stadium is the fact that it’s one of Zaha Hadid’s masterpieces. I also love how it reflects the culture of Al Wakrah and how it’s going to add value to Qatar and the local community.
“I feel so proud when I see the stadium now – it really is a dream come true. It’ll be amazing when we host the Amir Cup final. Finally, the first of seven new stadiums for the World Cup will be delivered – I’m already looking forward to opening the others.”
Williams Morales, Project Senior Engineer, has monitored progress at the site on behalf of the SC since 2014.
“My most memorable moment from a technical point of view was seeing the roof being lifted into place. From a personal perspective, I love seeing the field of play and experiencing the cooling technology, lights, video screens and sound system working together in harmony.
“The shape of the stadium is my favourite aspect – I love the design and I am sure it will be a reference point for football fans around the world in 2022.
“My reaction when I see the stadium now is simple: wow! I can’t wait for Al Wakrah to host the Amir Cup final – I’ll be really happy and very proud of all the hard work we’ve put in.”
Senior Architect Moza Al Harami has been involved with the stadium’s legacy and accessibility planning for the past three years.
“When I see the stadium now, I think it’s a masterpiece. The form and façade are stunning – it’s definitely one of my favourite Qatar 2022 designs. Part of my role has been to ensure the stadium is accessible for everyone, so my most memorable moment was when we invited members of the SC’s Accessibility Forum for a tour.
They were so impressed with the stadium and the level of detail that had gone into the planning from an accessibility point of view. Like everyone involved in the project, I’ll be very happy and proud on 16 May when Al Wakrah Stadium hosts its first game.”
Kiran Chandra Bairagi has worked as the Health & Safety Manager at Al Wakrah Stadium for the past five years.
“We recently reached 8 million hours on-site without a lost-time accident. This was a major milestone and one which illustrated the commitment to health and safety on this huge project.
“I’m amazed when I look at the stadium now – it’s a technological marvel and I feel honoured to have been actively involved in its creation right from the start.
“The design of the stadium is beautiful, but what I’m most proud of is the teamwork we showed to get to this stage. When we host the Amir Cup final it’s simply another step towards hosting the most significant event in Qatar’s history.”
Allison Taylor has worked as a Senior Master Planner across the SC’s stadium portfolio since 2014.
“This is the first stadium the SC has built from the ground up and we have collectively ‘cut our teeth’ on this project. We have learned many lessons along this journey and built up strong relationships with our many stakeholders – something which is proving beneficial across our infrastructure delivery programme.
“I love the element of intrigue in the design of Al Wakrah Stadium. It’s such a futuristic looking structure – it almost appears to be sitting on a stage from afar, but when you enter the precinct and approach the stadium, you engage with the spaces and its curves, which keeps you wondering what’s around the bend.
“When I look at the stadium now I just think ‘wow’. I can’t quite believe it’s finished! You get in such a routine of seeing a heavy construction site, but now to see the finished product after five years of looking at the renderings we’ve had on our walls, it’s amazing. I’ll be very proud during the Amir Cup final to have been part of the team to deliver the first stadium from scratch and of course be excited about what’s to come in 2022.”
Pasha Shahnawaz has worked as the Al Wakrah Precinct Planning Manager since 2013.
“The de-jacking, which started in April 2018, was a memorable milestone as all the temporary support for the roof structure was removed, leaving it to stand on its own. This was a great achievement and opened the door for activities such as roof cladding, seat installation and façade works, among others.
“I love the whole stadium, in particular the way the roof and façade look at night. When I look at the stadium now I simply think our vision has become reality!
“When we host the Amir Cup final, it will be one of the happiest moments of my life. I’ll feel very proud that a project I’ve worked on is hosting one of Qatar’s biggest sporting events.”
Abdul Rahim has worked as a Senior Document Control Specialist on the Al Wakrah Stadium project since March 2012.
“Being part of the Al Wakrah Stadium project is the highlight of my career so far. I feel privileged to be a part of the team which delivered the first Qatar 2022 tournament venue from scratch – when I look at the stadium now I think ‘we delivered amazing’.
“My favourite aspect of the stadium is the retractable roof and cooling system. It’s a fantastic legacy that this stadium will be used all year round. I think the most memorable moment was the pitch laying and setting a new world record. It was a fantastic day and the stadium looked complete afterwards.”