Doha: The countdown begins for the inauguration of Al Wakrah Stadium, one of the stadiums that will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, which is in its final phase of completion. The stadium is a few days away from its official opening for the 2019 Amir Cup final on May 16, a few days away from achieving the dream of building the first stadium from scratch in Qatar according to the standards adopted by FIFA.
Al Wakrah stadium is the second World Cup stadium to be completed after Khalifa International Stadium in May 2017. Al Wakrah stadium not only is the first stadium built from scratch but the installation of the pitch was completed in a world record time of just 9 hours 15 minutes.
Al Wakrah Stadium Project Manager at Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) Thani Al Zarraa said achieving a world record time for installing the pitch was not the actual aim, it was mainly a trial to see if an emergency happens with the pitch during the World Cup and how to deal with it in light of hosting the matches during a busy schedule. In addition to checking the feasibility of changing the pitch in a short period.
Al Wakrah stadium, which is inspired by the design of a dhow boat inverted for maintenance, will be a qualitative addition to Al Wakrah after its opening as it will offer many facilities around the stadium which will be operational before and after the World Cup. These facilities include cycling and running tracks, a multipurpose indoor arena, mosque, wedding hall and market will also be built. Visitors and fans during the World Cup will be able to spend their time in the stadium facilities before and after matches.
In an exclusive interview with Qatar News Agency (QNA) Al Zarraa said one of the most important objectives of Al Wakrah Stadium is to use it for social activities on a daily basis and not only for sports purposes. Feasibility studies have focused on the importance of the State and the people of the area benefiting from the project as a kind of sustainable heritage underpinned by all SC projects, he said.
He said the total area of the project is estimated at about 600,000 square meters, of which 150,000 square meters dedicated to the stadium, and 90,000 square meters of green landscapes, as well as the trees, which are nearly 700 trees, and the rest is divided between the various facilities such as cycling and horse racing tracks, Kahramaa power station and other services.
The design of the Al Wakrah Stadium, which is located in the heart of Al Wakrah, about 15 km south of Doha, is inspired by the well-known dhow boats of Qatar and the Gulf States. It reflects the historical and cultural heritage of the region and the most important city in Qatar, as it is one of the oldest strategic commercial ports, and its location as one of the main gates of Doha city by land and sea. It is also famous for pearl trade and fishing.
Al Zarraa said the design of the stadium was inspired by the work of the international Iraqi designer Zaha Hadid. Its design is focused on mimicking the natural and Qatari culture, which is evident in its portrayal of dhow boats used by the ancient ancestors during their daily diving and pearl diving operations.
He added the work on Al Warah Stadium project began in 2014 at the design stage, then project management offices were built by a local contractor in 2015. The process was then followed by the stage of empowerment and building foundations in 2016, and finally in 2017 the project was awarded to the main contractor to complete the construction of the project fully over a period of 33 months.
On the sustainability and environmental friendliness in the building of the stadium, Al Wakrah Stadium Project Manager at SC Eng. Thani Al Zarraa emphasized that these aspects have been taken into consideration since the initial designs, which received a five star certificate in the sustainability phase from the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) for sports and construction management. Another application will be submitted at the end of the project to obtain a new certificate.
On the legacy the stadium with leave behind, Al Zarraa said legacy is one of the most important promises for Qatar to host 2022 World Cup, through removing 20.000 seats from the ground (taking advantage of its modular design) and transported to countries in need of football infrastructure, in cooperation with FIFA.
The stadium has a capacity of about 40,000 seats and will host the World Cup until the quarterfinals, with a roof that opens and closes in 30 minutes.
Al Zarraa said the steel structure of the stadium, which consists of 32 pieces and weighs more than 9,000 tons, was one of the biggest challenges facing the project, as one piece took a month and a half from its design in Italy and its manufacture in China and South Korea. It was then transported to Italy to ensure the standards before being transferred to Doha for dyeing and entering the final installation stage, which took ten months to install the entire structure.
With regards to workers’ care, Al Zarraa said SC was keen since the start on passing the assessment of workers’ care in four different stages according to the international requirements and standards. It also signed contracts on the care of workers with the local and international contractors.
There are more than 5,000 workers in Al Wakrah Stadium project, where they work around the clock using three shift, each run for eight hours. Each worker is allowed to work on shift with one hour break. The stadium exceeded 20 million hours of work.
Al Zarraa said that with regards to fans arrival to the stadium, that it is one of the issued that will be tried and closely reviewed during the operational trial period before the tournament. He said the public has three options, the first using the metro, or using the cars till the allocated parking, then taking the buses to the stadium or the third option is to use cars to the allocated parking and walk to the stadium.
He added that the time required to reach Al Wakrah Stadium from the heart of Doha has been reduced by about half or less compared to the past two years after the completion of the majority of highways and internal projects, which is a tight network linking the stadium in all directions, as well as the completion of many infrastructure projects that serve the project with roads, bridges, intersections and others.