Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium – 2022 FIFA World Cup Stadium

One of the stadiums being converted for the Football World Cup 2022 is Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, popularly known as the Al-Rayyan Stadium which is a multi-purpose stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar. The 2022 FIFA World Cup is scheduled to take place in Qatar, starting on 20 November and finishing on 18 December 2022. Because of Qatar’s intense heat in the summer, the 2022 FIFA World Cup officials chose to hold the famous cup in November in Qatar. This year will see the 22nd running of the FIFA World Cup competition, and the second World Cup held in Asia. The entire cup is being held in 8 stadiums in Qatar during 64 matches between the 32 teams qualified.

The Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium is within walking distance of Al Riffa Station, on Doha Metro’s Green Line. Not only will it host matches for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but it was constructed for this purpose.

© Bansoro, December 23, 2020.

What was there before the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium?

Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium is named after Ahmad bin Ali Al Thani, who was the Emir of Qatar between 1960 and 1972 when Qatar gained its independence under his rule. The previous stadium was built in 2003, which means that the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium stands exactly on the ruins of its predecessor since the rubble was used almost in its entirety for the new structure of the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium. Close to it, almost 800 meters away, there is another important venue, the Education City Stadium.

The former Football Stadium, the Al-Rayyan SC, as reported by StadiumDB, was built in 2003, is located nearly 1km away from N-V Doha, and has desert surroundings. From that time, only by having this stadium built there, it was clear that it was going to become a new expansion zone of the city. According to StadiumDB, they got initially 55 hectares, expanding to occupy more than 70 ultimately.

When was the new Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium inaugurated?

The reason for its inauguration on 18 December 2020, exactly on Qatar’s National Day, was represented by the fact that the country would host the 2022 FIFA World Cup final. The Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium was one of the two venues used for the previous tournament, respectively the 2020 FIFA World Cup. For its inauguration, the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium hosted the 48th Amir Cup final between Al Sadd and Al Arabi, a match that finished 2-1 in favor of Al Sadd which was coached by Xavi Hernandez.

The previous stadium which was built in 2003 was reported to have a seating capacity of 21,282; however, it was demolished in 2015. Some newspapers reported that at least 90% of the debris resulting from the demolition was anticipated to be reused in two ways. Firstly, one method was to use the resulting debris for the construction of the current stadium. Secondly, the other method was to promote public art projects.

Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium
© StadiumDB

According to the Goal website, FIFA President Gianni Infantino was also presented at the inauguration of the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium to oversee it, amongst others, such as the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President H.E. Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa, and UEFA President, Aleksander Čeferin. Apart from the presidents and officials of the famous football organizations, there were present other star names, such as Samuel Eto’o, Mohamed Aboutrika, Tim Cahill, and Ali Al Habsi.

According to the Goal website, the President of FIFA, said that the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium is “a wonderful venue for football”, where “the atmosphere is incredible, with the seats extremely close to the pitch”. He said that even in a COVID-19 situation, namely a socially distanced crowd, he could still feel the “passion for the game”. The FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, named the Ahmad Bin Ali Football Stadium the perfect football arena for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

He continued, as the Goal website reported, to congratulate the country on the completion of the wonderful venue, claiming that Qatar is well prepared for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. He highlighted that the 2022 FIFA World Cup is a memorable version of the tournament, being the first in the Middle East and the Arab world, and the second in Asia.

Alongside him, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) said that the inauguration of the Ahmad Bin Ali Football Stadium on Qatar National Day represents an extremely important milestone completed, recognizing the efforts of everyone involved in the renovation during the difficult times in the global pandemic created by COVID-19. Finishing his speech, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) concluded that he looks forward to the inauguration of more stadiums across the country during that year in advance of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

As the Goal website reported, the Chief Executive Office of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 LLC, Nasser Al Khater recognized his immense gratitude for the inauguration of the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, mentioning that it was a proud event for the people, and for the country itself. During his speech, he discussed the challenges created by the global ongoing at that time pandemic. At the end of the speech, Nasser Al Khater, the Chief Executive Office of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 LLC, mentioned that they want to develop and enrich the fan experience during the 2022 FIFA World Cup and during the FIFA Arab Cup because these are events that are “sure to excite football lovers in Qatar”, as well as around the world. According to the Goal website, FIFA President Gianni Infantino was also presented at the inauguration of the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium to oversee it, amongst others, such as the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President H.E. Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa, and UEFA President, Aleksander Čeferin. Apart from the presidents and officials of the famous football organizations, there were present other star names, such as Samuel Eto’o, Mohamed Aboutrika, Tim Cahill, and Ali Al Habsi.

According to the Goal website, the President of FIFA, said that the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium is “a wonderful venue for football”, where “the atmosphere is incredible, with the seats extremely close to the pitch”. He said that even in a COVID-19 situation, namely a socially distanced crowd, he could still feel the “passion for the game”. The FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, named the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium the perfect football arena for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

He continued, as the Goal website reported, to congratulate the country on the completion of the wonderful venue, claiming that Qatar is well prepared for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. He highlighted that the 2022 Football World Cup is a memorable version of the tournament, being the first in the Middle East and the Arab world, and the second in Asia.

Alongside him, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) said that the inauguration of the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on Qatar National Day represents an extremely important milestone completed, recognizing the efforts of everyone involved in the renovation during the difficult times in the global pandemic created by COVID-19. Finishing his speech, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) concluded that he looks forward to the inauguration of more stadiums across the country during that year in advance of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

As the Goal website reported, the Chief Executive Office of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 LLC, Nasser Al Khater recognized his immense gratitude for the inauguration of the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, mentioning that it was a proud event for the people, and for the country itself. During his speech, he discussed the challenges created by the global ongoing at that time pandemic. At the end of the speech, Nasser Al Khater, the Chief Executive Office of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 LLC, mentioned that they want to develop and enrich the fan experience during the 2022 FIFA World Cup and during the FIFA Arab Cup because these are events that are “sure to excite football lovers in Qatar”, as well as around the world.

The construction of the current stadium started in 2016 with the joint venture between Al-Balagh and Larsen & Toubro. According to information from the Stadiumdb website, the structural engineer for this stadium was Schlaich Bergemann Partner, while the Contractor was ABLT.

As the previous source mentions,

“The concept delivered by AECOM, Ramboll, and Pattern Design combines a simple, nearly rectangular bowl with exciting outer cladding which adds dynamism to the building”.

Accordingly, they utilized traditional Arabic patterns on the outer webbing to allow sunlight to access the inside of the football stadium. Also, because of photovoltaic panels, sunlight will play an important and essential role in sustainability. According to the StadiumDB website, the design created at Pattern Design is based on the desert, and dunes inspiration, being presented firstly in April 2015 because, initially, the Al-Rayyan Stadium was scheduled to go into renovation in March 2019; however, the completion date was postponed for several times. Ultimately, the investment was completed at the end of 2020.

According to the same source, the StadiumDB website, the color scheme and lion symbols behind both goals related closely to the Al-Rayyan SC’s identity. The StadiumDB website reported that, after the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the modular upper tier of the structure will be disassembled, while the seats that are added especially for the 2022 Football World Cup will be handed over to other sports venues in Qatar, as well as in other countries. As the StadiumDB reports, the temporary upper sections and roof of the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium consumed more than 9,000 tons of prefabricated, structural steel, imported from China.

The idea behind the concept of the structure of the Ahmad Bin Ali Football Stadium is a simple one, having a compact body with a sophisticated, media-attracting façade that has the form of a light mesh and roof, being based around a steel ring. In total, the area of this is around 32,700 square meters, and this space surely offers a great visual reception from a relatively uniform, almost rectangular structure. The StadiumDB reported that, initially, the construction should have designed the roof of four traditional trusses anchored in each corner; however, this solution was not completed, being scrapped entirely later during the process of renovation.

Sobura, the author of the article posted by StadiumDB, mentioned that the VIP zones are located at the top of the lower tier of the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, while the hospitality and service zones of the stadium are situated outside of it in dunes-like structures, drawing inspiration from the desert. To create a much more dunes-inspired stadium, initially, the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium had to include some external towers for upper-tier crowd circulation. However, because it represented a distinctive association with the original Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, they scrapped this idea.

One of the most interesting characteristic elements of Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, as Sobura stated, is the “illuminated façade with an area of 39,000 square meters”, consisting of multimedia screens covered by a translucent metal screen. This type of appearance of the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium referred to Qatar’s values and specific landscape elements of the country. To preserve this idea in terms of appearance, the pattern is more ephemeral at the top, becoming much thicker around the base. Regarding the metal screen, some recurrent themes such as family values, native fauna, and flora, international trade, or simply Qatar’s beauty, will appear on it to symbolize unity and strength.

In terms of sustainability, Sobura mentioned that the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium used environmentally friendly cooling technology via a central station with a cooling capacity of 16,000 tonnes, which also supplies water to the stadium through the power station. Also, the StadiumDB reported that the building is 20% more energy-efficient, using 20% less water when compared to other ones of this type.

On the same aspect of sustainability, the Goal website reported in October 2020 that the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium has achieved a “major sustainability rating from the Gulf Organisation for Research & Development (GORD)” because of its design, construction, management, and energy efficiency that were found to be in line with the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) by the GORD.

As a result, the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium received certificates, including GSAS Design & Build Certification (four-star rating), GSAS Construction Management Certification (Class A*), and GSAS Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) Compliance Certificates.

The Goal website reported how the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy’s (SC) Competition Venues Executive Director, Jassim Telefat, said that they are very pleased to be awarded those certificates from GORD because they highlighted their constant commitment to being sustainable. The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy’s (SC) Competition Venues Executive Director mentioned one of their goals is “leaving a lasting legacy” because Qatar is hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup. At the end of his speech, he recognized and thanked the efforts of the people involved in the renovation of the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium.

Also, the Goal website reported how SC’s Sustainability & Environment Senior Manager, engineer Bodour Al Meer discussed how sustainability was one of the most important aspects during the renovation process. The renovation team reused and recycled materials from the former stadium, including them in the construction of the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium. More than that, during the renovation process, the SC’s Sustainability & Environment Senior Manager mentioned that they prioritized the procurement of locally registered subcontractors.

During the event, they mentioned that more than half of the project’s cost was delivered by local contractors, while 15% of the total amount of materials used in the renovation process came from recycled sources. The Goal website reported that Dr. Yousef Alhorr, Founding Chairman of GORD, considered that the current sporting tournaments, including the 2022 FIFA World Cup, are seen by the public as “transformative tools uplifting communities and driving social, economic and sustainable development”. Recognizing the importance of the awards, the Founding Chairman of GORD called Qatar to be a shining example of environmental sustainability by setting new standards for the construction of other stadiums in the future. Once again, the themes of the construction were discussed, such as the importance of family in Qatar, the beauty of the desert and the dunes, as well as the international trade, and the beauty of the fauna and flora.

This renovation of the previous stadium included many aspects regarding attracting the media because they added a type of membrane within the stadium, acting as a screen for commercials, current tournament information, matches, or other sports updates and news. According to the As.com website in 2020, The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) and workers celebrated during the renovation process the installation of the turf at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium that was completed “in a record time of 11 hours, 26 minutes and 54 seconds”.

They also reported that the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium has become the “third World Cup 2022 stadium to be inaugurated after the Khalifa International Stadium” which hosted the 2019 World Athletics Championships, or after the Al-Janoub Stadium, inaugurated in 2019 and used for the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup.

According to the As.com website, the inspiration for the design of the stadium came from the desert, dunes, and Islamic architecture. The same as the other source, this one emphasizes the “media façade” through the projection of information or commercials. Also, another similar emphasis is on the usage of 85% of recycled materials from the previous stadium that occupied the site and has been in use since 2003.

Still, the new stadium has a double seating capacity of 44,740, being one of the perfect places to hold football matches from the 2022 FIFA World Cup. However, some reported that there are still discussions around reducing the seating capacity to 21,000 seats after the 2022 FIFA World Cup ends.

Currently, this stadium is used mostly for football matches, being the main stadium of the Al-Rayyan Sports Club and Al-Kharitiyath Sports Club. It is believed that, after the 2022 FIFA World Cup ends, the area around the stadium will have different purposes, such as becoming a regional sports and recreation center, that will be available to residents. Amongst this area, there will be six football fields, a cricket field, and a horse-riding track.

What matches will the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium host for the 2022 FIFA World Cup?

The stadium will hold matches between the United States, Wales, Belgium, Canada, Iran, Japan, Costa Rica, England, and Croatia, all of them being teams qualified in Groups B, F, and E.

The first match of the Football World Cup 2022 held at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium is the meeting between the United States and Wales on 21 November 2022, at 22:00. The second match is between Belgium and Canada, on 23 November 2022, at 22:00. The third match happens on 25 November 2022, at 13:00 between Wales and Iran. Two days later, on 27 November, at 13:00, Japan and Costa Rica will play. On 29 November, at 22:00, the stadium will hold the match between Wales and England, while two days later, at 18:00, Croatia and Belgium will play, being the last match of the groups. On 3rd December, at 22:00, the winners of Group C will play against the Runners-up of Group D in the Round of 16 at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium.

What other matches did the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium host?

As it is already mentioned, the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium hosted four matches during the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup, including the meeting between Al Sadd and Al Arabi, the match that finished 2-1 in favor of the first team that was coached by Xavi Hernandez. Regarding this match, it was attended by many important names in the football industry, including H.E. Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President, and Aleksander Čeferin, the Football Associations (UEFA) President, amongst other stars, such as the Cameroonian retired professional footballer, Samuel Eto’s, the Australian former professional footballer, Tim Cahill, the Egyptian retired professional footballer, Mohamed Aboutrika, and the Omani retired professional footballer, Ali Al Habsi.

During the venue inauguration, the Qatars 2027 AFC Asian Cup logo was revealed, when the Qatar Football Association (QFA) President, H.E. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani formally handed the country’s bid book to Sheikh Salman. That specific week was a remarkable sporting one for the country Qatar since, besides the inauguration of the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Doha was announced to be the host city for the 2030 Asian Games.

Also, in the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup, during the matches held at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, the match between Oman and Bahrain finalized 3-0 for the first team on 6 December 2021. Earlier in the same tournament, another match between Tunisia and Mauritania resulted in a 5-1 score for the first one on 30 November 2021. Later, on the 4th of December 2021, Jordan versus Morocco played at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, resulting in a score of 0-4. The last match held at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium of the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup was between Algeria and Sudan, finalizing with Algeria’s victory at 4-0.

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