Oct 19
Kick Off at Qatar
Kick Off at Qatar
Come November 20, and curtains will lift on the eagerly awaited FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar. And as it does, even while enjoying the matches and sighing over the absence of the Indian team at the world’s most spectacular football championship, Indians will have something to feel proud about!
Of the eight stadiums in Qatar which will host the World Cup matches, one has a distinct Indian stamp. And that’s solely because of Larsen & Toubro!
The futuristically-designed Ahmad bin Ali Stadium at Al Rayyan, which will be the venue for the match between the United States and Wales on 21 November, has been constructed by L&T. In all, seven matches of this World Cup will be played here.
Located 35 km from Hamad International Airport (Doha) in the neighbourhood of the Mall of Qatar and connected by Al Riffa Metro Station, the stadium is a masterpiece! While boasting some of the world’s best sports infrastructure, it reflects the traditions and architecture of Qatar.
Interestingly, L&T’s association with the stadium at Al Rayyan is not new. Rather, it dates back to around 20 years.
In 2002, L&T had constructed an oval-shaped football stadium at Al Rayyan. It had 25,000 seats and served as the home-ground for Qatar’s famous soccer team – the Al-Rayyan Sports Club. It hosted several matches over the years.
After Qatar won the bid for hosting the Football World Cup 2022, the government authorities got the stadium demolished in 2015 to pave the way for a new, FIFA-compliant stadium at the site. The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy – a body formed by the Qatar government to oversee arrangements for the World Cup – floated a global tender for the new stadium.
A joint venture of L&T and Al-Balagh (a Qatar-based construction company) won the coveted contract in May 2016. The scope was vast, encompassing design and construction of the 40,000-seat stadium, precinct works, an energy centre, as well as operations & maintenance for four years. The project was awarded as a lumpsum contract, with the completion deadline being February 2019.
In May 2016 itself, L&T began working on the 135-acre project site under the hot desert sun. It mobilised, in phases, over 8,000 workmen from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Africa. The design works were spearheaded by L&T’s inhouse Engineering Design & Research Centre (EDRC) in coordination with various international design consultants from UK, Poland, and Germany.
The entire design was developed on Building Information Modeling (BIM) platform. The detailed design and the shop drawings were developed at different parts of the world by adopting stringent BIM protocol, which enabled coordinated deliverables up to the fabrication level.
The work was progressing well. But in June 2017, several Gulf nations imposed an economic blockade on Qatar. This turned out to be a huge challenge as regards sourcing raw materials and movement of workmen from other parts of the world.
With the support of the Supreme Committee, L&T worked out alternative channels for supplies and manpower. It, however, took over four months for the project team to reasonably mitigate the impact. This, in turn, put the deadline under stress.
Then, in 2018 and 2019, the Supreme Committee made major modifications to the precinct masterplan, and in turn, revised the completion deadline to December 2019, including the commissioning of all Building Management Systems (BMS).
L&T’s expertise and experience in delivering projects to stringent deadlines helped it overcome the challenge.
The Company mobilised additional workmen and expedited the pace of work. But then the COVID pandemic struck, and everything ground to a halt.
Overcoming the initial jolt, L&T continued with the work by complying to all COVID guidelines. It was a difficult phase, but with a well-coordinated approach the Indian multinational finally completed the job. In between, there were several inspections by the Supreme Committee and FIFA to check the adherence to the given specifications and standards.
L&T handed over the stadium to the Supreme Committee on 15 December 2020, who threw open the stadium on Qatar’s National Day – 18 December – with the final of the 48th Amir Cup between Al Sadd and Al Arabi.
When you look at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, aka Al Rayyan stadium at night, it shimmers like a jewel in a desert.
At daytime, from a distance, it appears like a mammoth sand dune. That’s because of its rectangular shape and with the roof structure gradually elevating towards the centre. The exterior also complements the colour of sand and the reflective materials of the façade utilise daylight to mirror the changing environment.
At night, the lighting is designed to display a ‘jewel’ or ‘galaxy’ effect. This has been achieved as the light source transitions to controllable, artificial lighting elements that use a combination of reflective and direct emitting techniques.
Custom media fixtures, ‘invisibly’ fitted within the façade, turn it into a long, moving LED screen- effect lighting system encircling the entire building. So, if you are going there to watch any of the seven World Cup matches, you will find the national flags of the participating countries and other visuals glowing on the façade.
The stadium’s exterior manifests the exquisite Naqsh art – a specialty of traditional Qatari architecture. The design solution generates new patterns by using transformational geometry to mediate between the five historic patterns – shield, chain, banana spiral, desert rose and palm tree – that have been incorporated into the façade.
Owing this, apart from being a superb sports facility, the stadium also stands out as an excellent piece of art.
The stadium’s built-up area is 104,663-square metres, with the field of play measuring 105 metres x 68 metres. Its bowl-shaped internal structure has eight levels and has been constructed in a way that the field of play is eight metres below the ground level and the topmost point of the roof is at a height of 38 metres from the field.
The stadium doesn’t have any corner pillars. Rather, the 32700-square metre lightweight roof, with a central opening over the field, stands on the peripheral pillars. This is to ensure that every spectator get an obstruction-free view of the entire field, irrespective of which of the 40,000 seats s/he is occupying.
Going by FIFA norms, a World Cup stadium must have well-appointed rooms for players and related services. L&T’s project team has constructed as many as 1,650 rooms under the stadium bowl, that is, in the space available below the stadium floors. These are real swanky rooms having all modern amenities and aesthetically stimulating interiors.
The lowest level – Basement 2 – houses the player rooms (for rest and refreshment), Press conference room, tunnel entry to the field for players, VVIP entry and plant rooms. The level above it – Basement 1 – houses various utilities.
Level 0 (ground level) houses the entry for spectators, ticket pods, toilets, and concessionaires. On stepping into the stadium through this level, a spectator can access the lower or middle tier depending on which tier s/he has booked a seat. The level above it – Level 1 – houses VIP lounges, related services and two Islamic prayer rooms.
Level 2 houses stadium management offices, the VVIP lounge, and 38 skyboxes meant for VIP and general spectators. The skyboxes are something to marvel at – these are swanky galleries equipped with sofas, chair-tables, toilets, and an exclusive zone to catch the matches in a relaxed mode.
The level above it – Level 3 – has the upper tier spectator seats, the media room, commentary box, toilets, and concessionaires. The top two levels – Levels 4 and 5 – house various plant rooms.
At Al Rayyan, the average maximum temperature during May – September hovers around 39-42 degrees Celsius. In November, when the World Cup takes place, the average maximum temperature is projected to be 30 degree Celsius.
The hot weather made it necessary to put in place a cooling arrangement so that footballers can play at ease and spectators can watch in comfort.
To the project team, bowl cooling with open oculus turned out to be the biggest design challenge. They mitigated the challenge by rigorous Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) analysis to arrive at the cooling demand and the selection of necessary equipment.
But providing uniformed air-conditioning in an open stadium is not easy. Hence, the team adopted an innovative method: installed diffusers under the seats to diffuse the cooled air from dedicated bowl cooling air-handling units. Almost every seat has one diffuser to maintain the uniformity of air distribution and temperature in the seating area.
As regards the field of play, the desired temperature is achieved by diffusing chilled air through the nozzles installed on the periphery of the field. The nozzles are adjustable, and this makes the airflow uniform. Both the bowl and field cooling systems are fully automated and are controlled through BMS.

Not only the stadium, but its precinct also befits a world-class sports facility. Spread over some 122 acres, it boasts a jogging track traversing all around the site, an expansive horse track, six training pitches and an expansive car park.
While the horse track is to facilitate Qatar’s favorite royal pastime of horse riding and the jogging track is for people and players to keep themselves fit; the training pitches are what comes handy for the football teams.
These training pitches are for the local football clubs as well as for practice matches of the World Cup contestants. The green grass of the pitches and landscaped areas makes the stadium site extremely soothing amidst a skyline bereft of greenery.
Ahmad bin Ali Stadium doesn’t only appear beautiful. In keeping with the global mandate, it embodies many sustainable features that are environment friendly.
Thanks to its unique design and allied features, the stadium consumes approximately 40% less energy by minimising demand through efficient energy supply to the building.
Instead of a conventional individual cooling system for each building, the complex boasts a ‘district cooling system’ (DCS), which distributes chilled water from a central source – the energy centre – to the stadium through a network of underground pipes for use in space and process cooling. The centralised location of the DCS consumes 50% less energy and in turn, lowers greenhouse gas emissions.
The DCS is more efficient because it takes full advantage of the diversity in cooling demands for various buildings and the economy of scale. A Thermal Energy Storage Tank of 30,000 tonne /hour capacity stores and discharges energy as per the cooling demands, which further enhances energy efficiency. The stadium’s light-coloured exterior insulation and finish system (EIFS) reduces heat absorption and supports the efficient use of the DCS.
The stadium consumes 20% less water than the international standard. The project team achieved this by adhering to the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) norms for water fixtures and water flow. For watering the precinct, recycled wastewater drawn from the stadium is used.
Even during the construction, L&T adopted several sustainable measures like noise control, using treated sewage water for dust control, waste management and water conservation, etc. Around 15% of the building materials had recycled content.
When the construction was on, the project team grew 50 mm-thick grass turf elsewhere to achieve the required growth level within a given deadline. It had imported the grass seeds from USA. The turf was later laid over the stadium field in a record 11 hours 26 minutes 54 seconds.
No wonder, the stadium achieved GSAS 4 rating for design, construction, management,  and energy efficiency – and earned overwhelming praise from the FIFA President Mr Gianni Infantino.
“Ahmad bin Ali Stadium is a wonderful venue for football...I am sure this will be a perfect football arena in 2022 when it hosts matches during the World Cup,” Mr Infantino had said at the inauguration of the stadium on 18 December 2020.
Once the World Cup ends, the capacity of the stadium will be reduced to 25,000 seats, making it perfect for domestic needs. The rest of the seats will be donated by Qatar to other nations to help develop their sporting infrastructure, turning the World Cup into a legacy.
Proud of its role in the FIFA World Cup 2022, L&T is geared to playing its part in developing more world-class sports infrastructure for the future generations in different parts of the globe.
Narendra Modi Stadium, Motera, Gujarat, 2020
Kensington Oval, Barbados, West Indies, 2006
Wankhede Stadium (Refurbishment), Mumbai, 2006
National Games Stadium, Sarusajai, Guwahati, 2005
Twin Turf Hockey Stadium, Hyderabad, 2003
Football Stadium, Al-Rayyan, Qatar, 2002
Cricket Stadium, Puttaparthi, Andhra Pradesh, 1997
Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai, 1993
Football-cum-Athletics Stadium, Amara, Iraq, 1983

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