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Digging down 20 million years as 'Diamond Of The Desert'

Extraordinary geological findings have been unearthed during the construction phase of the Qatar Foundation Stadium in Doha. These discoveries at the proposed host venue up to the quarter-finals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™ showed that the rock samples uncovered date back tens of millions of years.

Designed to represent a diamond sparkling in the desert, the excavation of 1.37 million cubic metres of rock - or the equivalent of approximately 550 full sized Olympic swimming pools of solid rock, at the stadium site unearthed geotechnical samples of 'Dukhan rock' dating back approximately 20 to 30 million years.

"As we dug down deeper on site, we came across interesting and distinct colour bandings on the rock formations. It was an interesting find, and we were intrigued to find out how old these rocks really were," said Eid Al Qahtani, Project Manager, Competition Venues , the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy . "We decided to conduct further research into the 'Dukhan rock', which has been identified by a site investigation and geotechnical study."

"We discovered that the rocks in question originated under water, forming a layer known as the middle-Eocene epoch. This is an extraordinary find for a stadium construction site, as usually this type of rock is only found in deeper tunnelling works, conducted by the likes of Qatar Rail."

Excavation at Qatar Foundation Stadium was completed by 32 excavators, which reached 17 metres in depth, allowing for the pitch to be built at around five to six metres underground. This decision is based on global cooling research conducted by Spanish stadium designers Fenwick Iribarren Architects, supported by the findings of British engineering firm ARUP, who discovered that by immersing the stadium several meters into the ground, the effect of the wind is minimised and natural cooling is maximised through the 'bowl cooling effect'.

"The cooling plant for Qatar Foundation Stadium will also be underground to lessen the effect on the surrounding community, hidden at around 16 and a half metres below the surface," added Al Qahtani. "Part of the excavated rock was also utilised by the nearby golf course that is also currently under construction, while the remainder was sent to be re-used on different projects in Qatar."

With the completion of the enabling works phase, safety continues to be a priority on site. After passing the 1.5 million man hours mark without any lost time accidents, the site is now ready for the vertical construction of the 40,000-seat stadium. Post-tournament, the stadium will be reduced in size to 25,000 seats, and is set to become the centre-piece of a university league which is already underway in the country.

The Qatar Foundation Stadium and surrounding sports facilities, which includes an indoor arena, tennis courts, as well as an indoor swimming pool, will be used by the student community at Education City after completion in 2019, allowing sport to be played all year round in comfortable conditions.

The stadium precinct includes an aquatic pavilion with world class facilities such as an Olympic-size swimming pool, training and diving pools, a multi-purpose pavilion for all types of indoor sports and concerts, male and female spas, plus open air football training sites, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, and basketball facilities. The surrounding area also includes a metro station within walking distance to the facility.

"We are pleased with the progress of Qatar Foundation Stadium, and we look forward to continuing to watch it grow from foundation level to full completion. We are working closely with our partners at Qatar Foundation to ensure the construction of the stadium will become a national heirloom. It will also make an invaluable contribution in providing an advanced stadium experience for fans, players, and visitors during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™," said Ghanim Al Kuwari, SC Competition Venues Executive Director