No white elephants after the World Cup.. Why will Qatar dismantle its stadiums after the end of the tournament?
With the referee blowing the final whistle announcing that Brazil had defeated South Korea by four to one goal, in the match that took place within the framework of the round of 16, and paved the way for Brazil to the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Qatar, the fans who came to encourage their country from both sides may not have imagined that the pictures The memorial that she takes at Stadium 974, which hosted the match, will be the last pictures, literally, not metaphorically, and that the stadium that witnessed her enthusiastic cries a short while ago will completely disappear from existence after several days.
Stadium 974, which is located in the Ras Abu Aboud area, 10 km east of the capital, Doha, close to its main port, and is entirely designed using a group of shipping containers loaded on ships. that were used for its construction. The stadium, which hosted 7 matches in the World Cup and can accommodate about 40,000 spectators, is the first stadium in the world designed in a way that allows it to be completely dismantled after the end of the tournament.
After dismantling the stadium, the containers will return again to commercial use, ship shipping and maritime navigation normally, while the roofs and some metal carriers will be used in projects within the country, by establishing facilities overlooking the waterfront on the Gulf Coast that the stadium occupies, as well as building a commercial business center. .
As for the basic contents of the stadium, which include seats, screens, audio equipment, player rooms, and others, it will be donated entirely to a developing country – it has not been officially named until the moment of writing this report – as assistance from the State of Qatar to improve the sports infrastructure of those countries. (1)
Since announcing its victory in organizing the World Cup in 2010, Qatar has built 8 stadiums with world-class standards that are the best ever, accommodating a total capacity of 420,000 spectators, at an estimated cost of between $7-10 billion, within a total cost that is the largest in the history of organizing Sports tournaments have exceeded the $220 billion ceiling, which the small Gulf state has pumped into the comprehensive development of its infrastructure that goes beyond sports facilities to include transportation, hotels, entertainment and even a new subway network.
In addition to the Khalifa International Stadium, the oldest stadium in Qatar, which was built in 1976 and was re-equipped to host World Cup matches by increasing its capacity to 40,000 spectators and opened in 2017, Qatar built 7 other stadiums, between new stadiums or developed stadiums, on top of which are the Al-Thumama and Al-South stadiums. And the Education City, as well as Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al-Bayt Stadium that hosted the opening match, Stadium 974, and finally Lusail Stadium, the most prominent and famous stadium that is scheduled to host the final match. . (2)
These huge stadiums raise a big question: What will happen when the winners of the World Cup tournament leave the Qatari lands after the final match that will be held at Lusail Stadium on December 18 and the announcement of the end of the tournament? And what will Qatar do with these huge, very luxurious stadiums on its soil?
The term “white elephants” is a common economic term that often refers to properties that seem valuable, but in reality they bring suffering to their owner because of the high cost of their maintenance, so he is not able to bear the costs of their maintenance, nor is he able to benefit from them directly. The term goes back to the heritage of the Far East, where kings used to gift some of their hated courtiers huge white elephants, ostensibly a valuable gift but a devastating burden due to the high cost of caring for them.
Brazil had a famous experience with white elephants. After the 2014 World Cup, which was organized on its soil and ended with Germany snatching the world title, the Latin country, which spent $3 billion to prepare its stadiums to host the competition, found that many of the luxurious stadiums it had built in different cities had become empty on their thrones only one year after the end of the tournament, and that The costs of maintaining these stadiums are much more than the revenues of the local sports activities on which they were to be based. Although Brazil is one of the most active countries in the world in football, the high maintenance costs have made many of these stadiums subject to neglect and deterioration in their services. (3, 4, 5)
As for Greece, its experience after the end of the Olympic Games, which it hosted in 2004, was worse than what Brazil witnessed, as it was considered a stark example of white elephants that can only be dealt with with neglect. After Greece spent about $2.5 billion – an amount that exceeds $11 billion by today’s standards – on infrastructure work and sports facilities in the city of Athens that hosted the Olympic tournament, which was considered a huge number and it is said that its spending was one of the reasons for the aggravation of the Greek economic crisis later. These facilities suffered from complete neglect until many of them became old buildings that are not used for sports activities in the first place, and many of them are covered with weeds and dust. (6, 7)
Returning to Qatar, although it has made a huge leap in the sports field during the past years, which does not depend only on winning the organization of the 2022 World Cup, but also extends to organizing international sporting events in various sports, the giant sports equipment it built to host the World Cup was much larger than The needs of local sports activities for a country whose population does not exceed three million. Thus, the transformation of these crowded stadiums during the World Cup into “another white elephant” is very possible after the end of the tournament, which necessitated a review of the method of dealing with them, either by dismantling or reusing them.
From our sustainable legacy ✅#Qatar2022 #on the promise pic.twitter.com/nmYeW5BhSG
Road to 2022 (@roadto2022) June 20, 2022
The basis on which Qatar’s strategy to prepare for hosting the World Cup was built was sustainability and the use of environmentally friendly tools in construction, so that stadiums can be dismantled and reused according to a well-thought-out plan once the World Cup ends, whether by recycling them in internal projects or by donating them and gifting them to friendly countries, thus enhancing attendance. Global Qatari, without getting involved in the problem of white elephants.
For example, Al-Bayt Stadium, one of the largest stadiums built in Qatar to host 9 matches in the World Cup, witnessed the start of the competition on November 20, and is designed in the form of a Bedouin tent that can accommodate about 60,000 spectators. A large number of stadiums are expected to be dismantled. Its seats will be reduced to 32,000 spectators only, and the rest of the seats will be donated. As for the upper part of the stadium, it is expected that it will be transformed into a hotel, a shopping center and a limited sports medicine center.
The same applies to Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, which will become an official stadium for the Qatari club Al-Rayyan, with the number of seats reduced from 40,000 spectators to 20,000 spectators, and some of its parts will be donated to some countries friendly to Qatar. As for the Education City stadium, which is designed in the form of a metal diamond and is located between a complex of universities and prestigious educational institutions in Qatar, it is also decided to reduce the number of its seats and turn the stadium into a permanent center for the Qatari women’s team in various sports, while keeping it as a national symbol that combines education and sports. (8)
No white elephants after the World Cup
As for the Lusail Stadium, which is the jewel of the crown of Qatari stadiums and will host the final match on December 18, the matter will not be much different for it, and it will also be subject to a strategy of dismantling and reuse. Lusail is the largest football stadium in Qatar, with a total capacity of 80,000 spectators. It is a real architectural masterpiece designed in the form of a traditional bowl decorated with golden colors. It is located in the city of “Lusail”, which Qatar designed as a smart city with sustainable tools, north of Doha.
It is expected that the “Lusail” stadium will be dismantled to benefit from its components in various projects, including the construction of schools, shops and medical clinics, while its upper parts are expected to be used in the construction of hotels and residential units. As for the golden external structure of the stadium, it will remain in its location, as it is a historical memorial for the Qatar World Cup 2022.
The same is the case with the “South” stadium, which has a unique architectural design by the late international Iraqi engineer “Zaha Hadid”, whose design derives from the traditional sailboats on the Qatari beaches, and is located in the city of Al-Wakra. It will continue to exist as one of the most important stadiums in Qatar, with a reduction in its capacity. From viewers to reach about 20,000 spectators, and using his equipment in the scope of other services, including donating them to other countries to raise the efficiency of their sports facilities.
As for “Al-Thumama”, one of the most important stadiums that caught everyone’s attention with its unique design similar to the traditional Islamic cap, it will also remain with the reduction of the number of spectator seats and the conversion of its upper parts to hotel services, in addition to the establishment of halls and centers for sports medicine. (8, 9)
In the end, and with its decision to donate more than 170,000 seats after removing them from their stadiums to help developing countries establish a good sports infrastructure, the State of Qatar is the first World Cup organizing country to design “temporary” stadiums to be reused for multiple purposes after the end of the World Cup, and to benefit from them internally. And externally, to become another milestone left by Qatar in the history of organizing the world’s most famous tournament.
1 – The “974” stadium bids farewell to the World Cup in Qatar and is completely dismantled. Shock and joy between the fans of Korea and Brazil
2 – More than just a sporting event.. How did Qatar prepare for the World Cup? And what do you hope to achieve?
3 – Brazil’s $3 billion World Cup stadiums become white elephants a year later
4 – From the beautiful game to birthday parties: the brutal reality of what happened to Brazil’s World Cup stadiums
5 – In the Brazilian Rain Forest, ‘a White Elephant, a Big One’
6 – The new ruins of Athens: Rusting and decaying 10 years on, how Greece’s Olympics turned into a £7 BILLION white elephant
7 – Abandoned Athens Olympic 2004 venues, 10 years on – in pictures
8 – Qatar: No ‘white elephant’ legacy for World Cup stadiums
9 – How Qatar plans to breathe new life into its stadiums after the World Cup