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As the 32 teams heading to the World Cup make their final preparations, so do those who have been working on the eight stadiums set to host this year’s tournament, which will commence on November 20th and culminate in the final on December 18th.

The design of the host stadiums is always a strong talking point and, to a large part, helps dictate how a host country is seen, and Qatar will be no different. Many of the venues have been constructed specifically for the tournament and come with their own unique characteristics. Striking architecture has been coupled with the latest technology, as fans will experience outdoor air conditioning in grounds powered by solar farms.

The eight venues are the fewest in number since Argentina hosted in 1978 and will be linked by a metro system. Situated within a convenient 21-mile radius of Doha, fans travelling between stadiums can breathe a sigh of relief and even revel in the opportunity to watch more than one game on the same day.

However, come the end of the tournament, only one stadium will be left standing: the Khalifa International Stadium. The others are all set to be dismantled or repurposed into sporting facilities, hotels, or community spaces.

The tournament will open at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor when the hosts take on Ecuador, with the tournament winner being crowned a month later at the Lusail Stadium. With the countdown to the tournament firmly on, there is no better time to get up to speed with the ins and outs of these unique venues.

Lusail Iconic Stadium - Capacity: 80,000

Set to host ten matches, the most of any venue at the tournament, the Lusail Iconic Stadium is located 23km north of Doha and is set to be Qatar’s jewel in the desert. More commonly referred to as the Lusail Stadium, it represents the largest of the eight stadiums and boasts a unique air-cooling system to keep fans and players cool in the arid climate. It will be powered by a solar farm to ensure a zero-carbon footprint. At an approximate cost of $767 million, the striking venue will host group stage games featuring tournament favourites Brazil and Argentina; one match from each knockout round; and the much-anticipated final.


Designed to reflect a fanar lantern, its shape and exterior echo attractive motifs found on hand-crafted bowls found across the Arab and Islamic world. The future of the stadium after the tournament is still to be decided, but expect a downsize and potentially a transition into affordable housing or even a school.


Al Bayt Stadium - Capacity: 60,000


The stadium, situated approximately 35km from Doha, in Al Khor, will have the honour of hosting the opening ceremony and first match. Completed in November 2021, the stadium has already held several matches, including the final of the FIFA Arab Cup 2021. The stadium’s stunning tent structure has been designed to reflect the bayt al-sha’ar, which are the tents historically used by the nomadic Bedouins across the Gulf region. During the tournament, the venue is set to host six matches in the group stage, followed by three knockout matches and one of the semi-finals. Once the tournament is over, the stadium is set to undergo an impressive transformation. Capacity will be reduced to 32,000, and the upper part will be converted into a five-star hotel. The site will also see the addition of a shopping centre, a food court, and a multipurpose hall.


Education City Stadium - Capacity: 45,320

Education City Stadium is one of the tournament’s smaller venues and has been given its name due to its location within the dynamic university district in which it is positioned. It was completed in June 2020 and is nicknamed “Diamond in the Desert”. The ultra-modern façade, comprised of a diamond-like geometric pattern, will shimmer in the desert sunshine and has been designed to blend seamlessly with Islamic architecture. Fans attending at night will also be treated to a spectacular performance as a digital light show is set to illuminate the exterior. It has been noted as one of the world’s most environmentally sustainable stadiums thanks to its construction of 20 percent green building materials. During the tournament, the stadium will host a total of eight matches before its capacity will be reduced to 25,000 and it will become a sporting hub used by the university’s athletic teams.

Stadium 974 - Capacity: 40,000

Without doubt, Stadium 974 is one of the tournament’s most unique venues and it has made history thanks to its unique construction. Positioned in the portside area around Doha’s West Bay, the name is a reference to the number of shipping containers used to construct the venue as well as a reference to Qatar’s international dialling code – paying tribute to the country’s long-held tradition of seafaring and trade.

Set to be fully dismantled after the tournament, the stadium is the first ever temporary venue in World Cup history. The area will then be converted into a stunning waterfront development and boast a dynamic business hub and local community facilities.

Five matches at the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup were held here, and it’s set to host a total of seven World Cup matches, up to the round of 16. While the stadium’s physical existence may only be temporary, its legacy will be long-lasting thanks to its one-off design.

Khalifa International Stadium - Capacity: 45,416


Built in 1976, the Khalifa International Stadium is no stranger to significant sporting occasions. Part of the Doha Sports City Complex, it has been home to the national team since its construction and is named after Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, the nation’s former Emir. Despite being the oldest venue at the tournament, the ground has undergone a significant upgrade, including the air-cooling system, a new tier increasing capacity by 12,000 and a fresh modern frontage to bring a touch of energy to a familiar friend. During the tournament, the venue will host eight matches, the last of which will be the third-place play-off. Fans attending matches here will also be able to visit the Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum as well as view the Hamad Aquatics Centre. As the countdown to kick-off continues, the venue is once again ready to excite fans as it hosts the world’s greatest football tournament.


Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium - Capacity: 44,740


Situated 20km west of central Doha in Umm Al Afaei, one of the country’s most historic cities, stands the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium. Located on the edge of the desert, it features several sand-dune-inspired structures that have been stimulated by the nature that surrounds them. Patterns on the exterior are symbolic of Qatari culture and reflect native flora and fauna as well as the importance of family. The near 50,000-capacity stadium has undergone a major upgrade, with its predecessor standing until 2015 and holding less than half the capacity. The stadium is home to Al-Rayyan SC of the Qatar Stars League. It has already hosted several matches and is set to host a further seven during the World Cup.


Al Thumama Stadium - Capacity: 40,000


Set to host matches up to the quarterfinals, the Al Thumama Stadim was completed in October 2021. Designed by Qatari architect, Ibrahim M Jaidah, the ground has been devised to imitate the gahfiya, a traditional woven cap worn across the region by men and boys which symbolises the coming of age. The stadium’s stark white exterior will stand out amid the lush surroundings of the public park in which it sits.


Many fans will catch their first glimpse of what is one of the tournament’s smallest stadiums from the air as many international flights will arrive overhead and descend into Hamad International Airport.


Once the tournament is over, the capacity will be reduced to 20,000 and a luxury hotel will open in the stadium’s upper levels. The area surrounding the stadium will become a community hub with a number of sporting facilities for running, cycling and swimming.


Al Janoub Stadium - Capacity: 40,000

Al Wakrah, located 22km south of central Doah, plays host to the Al Janoub Stadium. It’s a city that is rich in history but also boasts a dynamic and forward-thinking energy. Inspired by the hulls of Qatar’s traditional fishing boats and with a symmetrical roof designed to look like wind-filled sails, the stadium’s awe-inspiring architecture is sure to get football fans across the globe posing for photographs. Fans attending one of the seven matches held at the stadium will be positioned in seats that have been intended to emulate the sea in an iconic wave pattern and will be kept cool thanks to the innovative cooling system, which will keep spectators comfortable at a cool 18C. After the tournament, the 40,000-capacity will be reduced to 20,000 and will become the home of Al Wakrah Sports Club.

Eight Stadiums That Are a Feast For the Eyes

So, while this may be the most compact World Cup fans will experience, it certainly won’t be without glitz, glamour, and a collection of stadiums that will not go unnoticed as they play host to the ultimate football tournament on earth. Only time will tell as to who will lift the coveted trophy at the Lusail Stadium on December 18th.

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