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Ahmad bin Ali Stadium: Rising from the rubble, now at Qatar 2022

Setting up the best edition of the FIFA World Cup ever organized, Qatar tried to build the best infrastructure, prompting the FIFA President, Gianni Infantino to say that this will “probably be the best-ever edition of the competition ever staged”.

Therefore, everything needed to be perfect in terms of the stadiums and the connection between the stadiums, with the eight arenas being in a radius of 50 kilometres, the smallest in history for an edition of the FIFA World Cup.

However, only one arena from the eight hosting matches at Qatar 2022 has been built before the start of the competition, the Khalifa International Stadium, with the other seven being built from scratch.

The case of the “Ahmad bin Ali Stadium”, widely known as the Al-Rayyan stadium, the club which is the home of, is a curious one. The infrastructure was in place, yet the old arena was demolished in 2015 to make way to the new stadium, which has a capacity of 44.740 seats, ranking it fourth-biggest at Qatar 2022.

The façade of Al Rayyan Stadium is formed from seven patterns, representing different aspects of Qatari culture. The patterns blend together seamlessly to tell the story of the nation. They are based on highly abstracted shapes, which echo decorative motifs found in Islamic architecture.

Envisioning an emblem, a literal marker of the exit to the desert along the highway, the new Ahmad bin Ali Stadium is designed around circle-packing geometries, employing a predominantly quadrangular form whose edges have been softened, accommodating curved concession stands and supplementary spaces with shapes that have been extracted from those of nearby sand dunes.

“There are a large number of unique tailored design features and experiences in the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium. One of our favourites is the hospitality ‘dunes’ section which surrounds the exterior of the stadium and has been configured as a series of intriguing Star-Wars-inspired, sci-fi style spaces to relax before and after a football match,” said Lindsay Johnston, chief architect at BDP Pattern, the agency that designed the stadium.

More than 80% of the construction material came from the original stadium that previously occupied the site while existing trees were also carefully retained. When fans visit, they will be able to travel via an environmentally friendly new Doha Metro system – complementing a truly sustainable venue experience. 

Also, 80% of the materials used for the construction of this stadium belonged to the one that was demolished, so its essence will always be alive, with the other 20% used for different art projects. The trees that surrounded the old stadium were also replanted.

When completed, it will include modern amenities such as a social club, cricket ground, trails for running or walking, and other facilities.

The new arena which still bears the name to Qatar’s emir between 1960 and 1972, Ahmad bin Ali Al Thani, has been inaugurated on 18 December 2020, which coincided with Qatar’s national day and has hosted the 2020 FIFA Club World Cup, with three games played there.

It went for another test run during the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup, which also took place in Qatar, and it looks ready for the challenge at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Seven matches will be played here, including a crucial one between Croatia and Belgium, before a game in the Round of 16 will see its mission finished.

After the tournament, like in plenty of other cases, the stadium will be reduced to 21,000 seats and will be used as the new home of the Al Rayyan Sports Club – one of Qatar’s most popular football teams. Its dismantled upper tier will be donated to “nations in need of sporting infrastructure.”

One of the key aspects of the Al Rayyan Stadium is the fact that the stadium would be getting a number of facilities once the world cup gets over. There will be six football training pitches, a cricket pitch, a horse riding track, cycling, and jogging tracks, an athletes track, gym equipment and so much more coming up as part of the overall facilities.

The arena will be the home of the Al-Rayyan SC after the tournament, an eight-time champion in the Qatar Stars League and the six-time winner of the Emir of Qatar Cup.

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