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  • Allen Czermak

Qatar Uses Innovative Techniques with Shipping Containers for the 2022 World Cup

The country of Qatar has become a big news item since the 2022 FIFA World Cup Soccer tournament was held there recently. Qatar is also one of the biggest ports in the Middle East with a yearly handling capacity of 7.5 million TEU, 1.8 million general cargo and grain capacity of a million tons. Major expansion plans are being implemented so that the terminals can handle two million TEU yearly. In honor of the World Cup, Qatar revolutionized the building of one of its eight new stadiums by building one of them from 974 shipping containers. Not only were shipping containers used for the construction of a stadium but for restrooms and cost-effective hotel rooms to house World Cup fans.

The Port of Hamad/Doha

The Port of Hamad is the main port of Qatar stationed south of Doha. The construction of the Hamad seaport began in 2010 and opened six years later in 2016 for commercial trade with main imports consisting of vehicles, livestock, grains and other food products. Port Hamad boasts three container establishments with the latest port technology such as high-tech gantry and ship to shore cranes. Their efficient handling of cargo is due to the most up to date scanning machines dramatically diminishing container processing schedules. Its state-of-the-art storage space can handle about 1.6 million tons with sheds, modern shelved and paved storage facilities.

Where is Qatar Located?

Located in the Western part of Asia, the Qatar Peninsula is on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula and is one of the smallest countries in the middle east about the size of the state of Connecticut. Qatar borders Saudi Arabia on the south and is surrounded by the Persian Gulf on the three other sides making it a major city for shipping. Qatar is supposedly the world’s largest per capita oil and natural gas producer and has the highest reserve per capita touting to have the third largest natural gas and oil reserves in the world.

Brief History of Qatar’s Emergence in the Modern World as a Gas Rich Country

In 1939 oil was discovered in Qatar and it took ten long years for the oil business to actually take off in 1949 with British intervention because of in fighting among the Thani dynasty. When the British proclaimed their plans to leave Qatar and withdraw from the Gulf region, Qatar could finally declare their independence on September 3, 1971. With this announcement Qatar formally became a member of both the United Nations and the Arab League. Qatar suffered international criticism for their employment customs and treatment of workers using low-paid migrants to build the stadiums with some unfortunate casualties along the way. Qatar claims that for the construction of these stadiums they have adopted labor reforms.

Qatar Meets the FIFA World Cup Stadium Requirement

Any country named for such major sporting events as the Olympics and World Cup must have or build a certain number of stadiums capable of holding up to forty thousand people each in order to meet the precise regulations of FIFA and the IOC. Usually this means having stadiums in different cities and also the sleeping accommodations needed for all the fans flying in from outside the country. The trouble is that if these stadiums are built specifically for the World Cup what happens to them afterwards? Most if not all countries do not have use for so many sporting venues. For example, let’s take Montreal, where the 1976 Olympics took place. The Olympic Stadium has not been used for nearly fifty years with many calling it a name, white elephant.

At first, Qatar would not seem like a country that would be chosen to host the World Cup having never qualified before and being such a small nation in the area. Most of the stadiums would all be located in one city, Doha, and this was considered to be problematic for the over one million fans that would be situated around one area. There have been accusations of corruption and bribery in the selection of Qatar and Russia previously, since their human rights policies are not in sync with western society. The FBI and French government officials did open investigations.

Stadium 974

The smart stadium architects and engineers of Qatar wanted a practical and attractive idea to turn around the negative press and insinuations about their faulty labor practices. It is certainly neither practical nor price conscious to simply build eight stadiums that will fall into disuse after the World Cup is over. The World Cup Soccer Championship is a month in duration and if there is no increase in sports competitions afterwards, the stadiums are just taking up space unless they are dismantled afterwards at a great expense. What if the construction engineers could create a temporary structure that could be converted afterwards into a waterfront infrastructure? With additional metal frames and some roofing materials the idea of using shipping containers for the stadium became reality.

The container stadium took three years to build which is a much shorter time than the other seven stadiums and hopefully the permanent stadiums will also find some future usages. There was no air conditioning in the container stadium so the meets that took place were at night. A competition that took place there between Serbia and Switzerland was unmistakably more humid than the other air-conditioned stadiums, but that is how it used to be. In the United States it’s hot in the summer for the baseball players and fans since not every team has an indoor venue. Same goes for football fans and players in the winter but the stadium in Qatar was a success both in thought and action.

Qatar clearly emphasized the fact that they are a port country, and they are celebrating that very heritage by using the containers to cut down on energy guzzling productions and using renewable turnkey components. There will be no trace of Stadium 974 after it is disassembled. Credit for this unusual stadium goes to the Spanish firm of Fenwick Iribarren Architects (designers of Stadium 974 and two others of the World Cup stadiums. They believe in the blend of commercial architecture and art and are constantly looking for original formulas to combine beautiful structure with economical and energetic projects for the worldwide clientele). This one will not be called, “a white elephant”. Stadium 974 which hosted seven of the World Cup games and held up to 44,089 people was located in Ras Abu Aboud, Doha.

Shipping Containers Turned Into Motel Rooms

Qatar spent over 220 billion dollars on infrastructures for the 2022 World Cup. Many hotels were built, and the newest accommodations are composed of used shipping containers. Each container facility consists of a bedroom with two beds, a complete bathroom with showers and even a small refrigerator with a coffee maker. There are windows and doors in each room so that from the inside it looks almost like a mini motel room. There are conflicting opinions about the air quality therein and if there was air conditioning or not. Qatar is a desert with high temperatures during the day and it was probably not that comfortable for fans. These residences have been built to set up for sixty thousand soccer fans costing $203 per night. Weather predictions ranged from highs of ninety-three during the day to lows of 68 at night. Apart from the fact that the number of temporary villages decreased because of these, ”rooms” some critics noted health concerns for people coming from cooler climates sleeping in small rooms with no central air conditioning.

Folks who were around when the Woodstock phenomena occurred would find it quite humorous that people are criticizing these modest accommodations when during the summer heat in New York people slept outside on the Woodstock farm. Well, hopefully the fans that could afford deluxe accommodations found vacancies and the ones who were housed in the shipping container rooms survived, nevertheless. We have not yet heard their direct reviews.

The truth is that access shipping containers are being put to innovative use, from border fences to hotel rooms. Why there is such an access of shipping containers is another story not for now but at least people’s minds are working so as not to waste these huge boxes taking up so much room.

Final Words

Qatar was changing so quickly even before landing the 2022 World Cup Soccer Tournament. With the possession of the tournament, it went on quickly to build a new subway system opened in 2019, many hospitals, a shining new international airport which includes one of the world’s most prestigious airlines, Qatar Airways, 7 new permanent stadiums and newly updated shipping ports that can be accessed by major companies.

According to statistics, Qatar spent twelve years in preparation of hosting the World cup, with accusations of unsafe labor practices and corruption in the actual voting, it still ended up hosting the famous World Cup with innovative uses of shipping containers for a colossal stadium, rest rooms and motel rooms to accommodate the over one million fans who came to enjoy the tournament.



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