Lusail Stadium: The project of a lifetime
Lusail Stadium: The project of a lifetime
Lusail Stadium – the biggest venue to be constructed for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ – will host the final of international football’s showpiece event on 18 December.
The 80,000-capacity arena will host matches during every stage of the World Cup, starting with the Group C clash between Argentina and Saudi Arabia on 22 November.
For Project Manager, Tamim El Abed, a British national of Palestinian heritage who grew up in Qatar, turning the vision of Lusail into reality has been a major undertaking – but one that has left him with enormous pride.
As we approach the Lusail Super Cup between the champions of Saudi Arabia and Egypt on Friday 9 September, El Abed reveals his journey in managing the delivery of this magnificent stadium.
How did you get involved in the project?
The SC recruited me in 2013. It was an exciting offer and an incredible role – but one that meant stepping outside my comfort zone as a mechanical engineer. Up until 2013, my career had been in oil and gas, overseeing the construction of petrochemical facilities in Qatar. To go from working on those technical facilities to managing a high-profile, special-purpose project intended for public use, like Lusail Stadium, required a whole new mindset.
What were the reasons behind choosing the site where the stadium was built?
Originally, there were four potential sites. The one we chose was based, like the other seven World Cup venues, on a number of factors. Chief among these were: the distance from other venues, proximity to public transport, the distance to hotels, the distance from the training sites and the distance from tourist attractions that could serve to entertain approaching or departing fans. Also, as the largest venue for the World Cup, we needed adequate space around the venue in order to absorb the massive crowd flows.
How does it feel that your stadium will host the FIFA World Cup™ final?
I feel a real sense of pride and privilege. Having grown up in Qatar and seen the massive changes over the past 40 years, it is difficult to put into words how it makes me feel to contribute to a project like this and to be able to give back to the country that’s been my home since childhood. To be at the forefront of this stadium development, which is at the heart of this unprecedented endeavour, is quite incredible.
How will you feel when the FIFA World Cup™ Winner’s Trophy is lifted at Lusail Stadium on 18 December?
I think the overriding emotion will be relief that the World Cup has been safely concluded. I will also be very satisfied, knowing that something I have put so much effort into has served its purpose. When the World Cup is lifted by the winning team, it will signal to everyone that we have delivered on our promises.
How does building a World Cup stadium compare to other projects you have worked on?
It’s totally different. Delivering a high-profile, public use building has meant a real shift in thinking and approach for me. In the past, I built specialist facilities intended for use only by a very specific sector of people. To build something of this nature that is open to the public from all over the world, where safety, comfort and happiness are key, required totally different technical capabilities.
At the same time, it has been a massive honour to be at the heart of a development that is so important to Qatar’s profile, image and vision.
What are the challenges of project managing the development of an 80,000-capacity stadium?
There have been many challenges over the years. The sheer volume of the project and materials we dealt with presented many obstacles, the simplest examples being 30,000T of structural steel and more than 300,000m3 of reinforced concrete. Even the number of people required to deliver the project carried its own logistical challenges.
We are ultimately held accountable to multiple, stringent standards which cover the safety, quality and technical aspects of the project. Having to continuously adhere to those over the years is very demanding.
The design of the stadium is based on a traditional metal bowl used in the Arab region. Can you tell us about the process of building the golden exterior?
Building the exterior was the result of a complicated structural installation process. There is a steel frame that sits behind the façade, which supports the roof of the stadium and the mounting system on which the geometric triangles are fixed – so behind this beautiful façade are cutting-edge techniques and calculations. For example, as the mounting structure is connected to the roof, it was subject to multiple stages of movement in various directions during the installation of the roof and its cables. As a result, the designer had to use complex engineering studies to predict where each panel would finally be located.
When will landscaping around the stadium precinct begin?
Asphalt has been laid to ensure the ground is free of obstructions. Main landscaping and additional beautification works will begin soon. Post-tournament, the stadium precinct may include a range of facilities. These could potentially be for private developments or projects that can generate revenue, which would make the operation of the precinct more economically sustainable.
What will the stadium be used for after Qatar 2022?
A study is being reviewed at the moment to see what the future will be for this stadium. One thing Lusail Stadium is not short on is interior space – it consists of 250,000m² of floor area and 3,345 rooms.
There are many potential options that could benefit from the stadium’s state-of-the-art telecoms, electrical and mechanical systems, plus the beautiful, furnished spaces inside. One idea is to repurpose the spaces to create multiple civic uses for the local community – such as residential units, food and beverage businesses, retail, health services and even a school.
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