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Al Bayt, a model for Qatar: A sustainable stadium that combines modern arenas with traditional tents

Organizing the 2022 FIFA World Cup was always going to be an adventurous plan for Qatar, a country that lacked both the infrastructure and the know-how on creating the perfect setting for the competition. Yet in less than a decade, the Middle East country has pledged over $6 billion in trying to hold the “best-ever” edition of the competition.

That meant that seven of the eight stadiums had to be built from scratch, with the ambitious project undertaken by several high-profile architects, that engaged in a race against the clock to provide the best projects for the competition.

Situated in Al Khor, on the Northeast coast of Qatar, roughly 50 kilometres away from the capital Doha, the “Al Bayt” Stadium will host the opening match of the competition, due to take place on Sunday, 20 November, when hosts Qatar take on Ecuador, in their first-ever match on the biggest of stages.

Designed to resemble a traditional tent used by nomadic peoples in Qatar and the region, Al Bayt can hold 60.000 spectators and is the second-largest stadium at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, after the “Lusail Stadium”, which is scheduled to host the final on 18 December.

Named after the historic “bayt al sha’ar” tents that were traditionally used by nomadic people in the country and across the region, the arena’s exterior walls and peaked roofs were covered in polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) woven fiberglass membrane to create the tent-like form.

A retractable roof connects the four stands to enclose the stadium, in an architectural marvel, with the shade provided by the structure complementing the stadium’s cooling technologies, helping maintain a temperature between 18 and 24 degrees Celsius without any additional use of power.

The stadium’s polytetrafluoroethylene membrane exterior was coloured in traditional black, red, and white colours – traditionally the colours of Qatar, to underline the connection with the traditionally nomadic people’s tents, a connection strengthened by the weaving patterns used by the nomadic tribes have also been incorporated with the building.

According to the official data released by the Local Organizing Committee, the “Al Bayt Stadium”, which needed seven years to be built and was inaugurated in November 2021, at the FIFA Arab Cup, reportedly cost a staggering $847 million to be completed.

“Every stadium being developed for the World Cup has a unique sustainability story – including Al Bayt. Its legacy will be felt long after the tournament – especially by the Al Khor community. The work being done today will ensure Al Bayt is a major landmark for many years to come – all thanks to Qatar hosting the biggest sports event in the world,” said Bodour Al Meer, the Sustainability & Environment Senior Manager at the Qatar Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy.

The arena, which received the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) certification from the Gulf Organization for Research & Development (GORD) for its design, construction practices and efficiency of its energy centre, will be modified after the conclusion of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, where it is due to host nine matches, including a clash of European powerhouses between Spain and Germany, the highlight game of Group B, between England and the United States of America, and three knockout matches, including a quarter-final and a semi-final.

The arena’s hospitality wing features a tailor-made experience for guests, with five-star hotel rooms offering a superb view of the pitch inside the stadium turned into Sky Boxes and marketed as such during the 2022 World Cup by FIFA.

“This is a very unique concept that we have designed. The idea was there from Day One. The business guys drive the project so that it becomes sustainable. This was one of the plans to have a hotel for the visiting teams in Qatar. It will be converted to sky boxes by FIFA during the World Cup and therefore the furniture has been selected in that way. The beds can be converted to sofas and vice versa,” revealed Engineer Mohamed Ahmed, SC Project Manager for Al Bayt Stadium-Al Khor City, according to “Goal”.

After the conclusion of the world football flagship competition, the “Al Bayt Stadium” will be reconfigured into a 32.000-seater stadium, with the upper tier being completely remodeled as it was specifically built with a modular design.

The seats will be repurposed to create sporting facilities in Qatar and overseas, cementing the legacy of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The skybox level will be turned into a five-star hotel, while a shopping centre, food court, gym and multipurpose hall will be incorporated into the stadium building.

Some of the legacy facilities are already in use – including the precinct which surrounds the stadium. This features a public park, running and cycling tracks, play areas, coffee shops and restaurants.

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