In preparation for the FIFA 2022 World Cup, the newly built Al Thumama Stadium has been inaugurated. The gahfiya, a traditional woven head cap worn throughout the Middle East, inspired the stadium’s design. It is meant to keep spectators and athletes at safe temperatures.
Located near Doha, the head-cap resembling Al Thumama Stadium was created by Qatar-based architect Ibrahim M Jaidah. It will host eight soccer matches, up to and including the competition’s quarter-finals, and has a seating capacity of 40,000.
In addition, it also contains a mosque, a luxury hotel, and shopping sections. Half of the chairs will be removed after the tournament and repurposed for other sporting events. The stadium also has a sophisticated cooling system with water sprays, air conditioning, and fans, similar to how the gahfiya shields people’s heads from the Sun.
“The players need cooler air than the spectators, as they are running around,” says Dr. Saud Abdulaziz Abdul Ghani, who has been tasked with maintaining a comfortable temperature for everyone. “Our challenge at each venue was to provide the correct technology and temperature for different areas of the stadium. At Al Thumama, the cool air is closer to the spectators. Here, we cool the air under the seats and recycle and purify it inside the venue. Al Thumama also benefits from having a completely white exterior, thanks to its design replicating the gahfiya head cap, which reflects the Sun and helps to keep the stadium cool.”
While establishing enormous stadiums in the desert isn’t precisely “sustainable,” Al Thumama boasts several green design aspects that help to reduce its carbon footprint. For example, greywater is used to irrigate the surrounding land’s vegetation and trees, and the stadium is partially powered by a giant solar panel array built nearby. A second solar system powers the building’s air-conditioning systems.
The FIFA 2022 World Cup arrangements have been a monumental task, with magnificent projects like the Diamond in the Desert and Zaha Hadid’s Al Wakrah Stadium. The project, however, has been panned, with reports of laborer deaths and unsafe working conditions.