In the summer of the Qatari World Cup, mercury rises and the clock is ticking
DOHA, Qatar – The sun rises before five in the morning and immediately puts the whole city in convection mode. By noon, the temperature has stopped rising methodically, from unusual to uncomfortable and intolerable, and finally unhealthy. The cool breeze offers no relief; even the summer wind blows hot in Doha in June.
It was supposed to be the summer when the World Cup arrived in Qatar. The idea, which now seems as jagged as a dozen years ago as a tiny Gulf country, is to say that acquired the rights to host the biggest football championship. FIFA’s own evaluators had described the Gulf Summer World Cup as “high risk,” and a single morning walk this week confirmed that rating. However, for years, the Qatari organizers promised to do what they had to offer, no matter what FIFA asked for: new stadiums, new hotels, new cooling technologies, a new frontier in football.
The organizers, of course, finally came to their senses, or at least to the mind that allows people to distinguish heat from solar heat, and in 2015, they raised the tournament to winter. Last week, however, gave an overview of what might have been.
In eight days, Qatar hosted three intercontinental playoffs that identified the last two teams at this year’s World Cup: Australia and Costa Rica. As with many tent events in Doha in recent years, these matches were an opportunity for Qatar to test its facilities, infrastructure and tolerance towards all the different guests.
What did this glimpse into the future look like this week? Both soothing and incomplete, depending on the point of view.
Five months after the opening ceremony of the World Cup, Qatar seems to have done great things. Of the eight air-conditioned stadiums built or renovated for the World Championships, seven have been played and the largest (and last) will have its first test matches in the coming months. All but one of the arenas can be reached with one of the three brilliant new metro lines that run through and through the capital, and work on office towers, apartment buildings, roads and sidewalks continues every day. No matter how much you are ready to go, seeing Qatar this summer, so close to its great moment, means seeing a place that is a work in progress rather than a finished vision.
Peru brought in the most fans of all countries this week, an army of more than 10,000, but every morning it was possible to walk the long quarters of the city without seeing it. Many residents and visitors only showed up in the evening to sip coffee, walk in the parks and green areas, and move around the capital’s rebuilt marketplace, Souk Waqif, which filled its tables, disappeared in stalls and shops. But even when locals, Qatari families, and South Asian workers pulled out their phones to take photos and record videos of fans who enjoyed a place they probably never thought they were visiting, they couldn’t give the impression that any of them no it is not. I can still be sure what November will bring.
The organizers expect that more than a million fans will arrive in Qatar during the World Cup – 32 cheerful sections, as in Peru, but also neutrals, all in the same places, competing for the same hotels and coffee tables, all waving their hands. your colors and your hopes.
There are persistent questions about where all these guests sleep, eat, shop and drink. Cruise ships and tent camps can help solve this first problem, which remains the biggest unanswered question for fans and organizers. Qatar’s decision to require World Cup participants to provide proof of ticketing to enter the country or book a hotel room may help reduce these numbers. Saudis and emirates who love football could come across the border to raise those numbers again. But the tournament is also four days shorter than its predecessors in Brazil and Russia; if it becomes a chaotic mess, it will at least be shorter.
There are still a few months to find out the latest details, find space and rent buses and boats so that Qatar can produce the promised smooth presentation to bend all this shiny new soft power.
Heat? It is so low on Qatar’s list of concerns that officials and engineers are now rejecting it. Anyone who has spent the winter in the bay knows that mercury will fall by the 80’s and it will be cooler at night. Can it literally and figuratively lower the temperature in fan zones and elsewhere? Maybe.
You don’t have to do this on game days. The stadium’s air conditioners worked according to advertisements throughout the week; Blowers and vents built at Al Rayyan Stadium, a 40,000-seat stadium, cooled the match comfortably by 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius) on Monday, when Australia won a shootout over Peru. and a shell for rotating metal work.
In a few months, the latest and most sophisticated system will be tested, built on Lusail’s 80,000-seat stadium, which will host 10 matches, including the finals. The engineer who designed it promised this week that it would work. He had, he noted with a laugh, made the calculations himself.