2022 World Cup challenge
World Cup can eradicate misconceptions about Arab world; Qatar likely to make concessions on alcohol consumption; Solar-powered technology to cool stadiums.
December 16, 2010 9:52 by Reuters
“Around 50 to 60 percent of the population are aged in their 20s or below, so they are more tolerant and I think they will embrace the event as a whole,” said Sultan al-Qassemi, an Emirati social commentator based in the United Arab Emirates.
The number of outlets serving alcohol in Qatar is likely to increase over the next 12 years, Qassemi said, while a planned $3 billion 40-kilometre causeway to Bahrain, where alcohol is more freely available, may also make it easier to bring drink into the country.
Importing alcohol into Qatar is currently illegal. Government and bid officials have not said whether this will change prior to the tournament or for its duration.
“I imagine that they will set up areas for conspicuous alcohol consumption; a bit like how they divide off restaurant areas in Dubai malls during Ramadan,” said David B. Roberts, a researcher at Durham University in the UK.
“(Qatar’s Emir) came to power largely, though not exclusively, by successfully courting younger generations. Sport played a significant role in this. His calculation is that Qataris will be proud enough of Qatar hosting the World Cup to forgive him the liberalising of the laws.”
Then there’s the heat, which in summer can soar to above 50 degrees Celsius, making even crossing the street a challenge.
Although the tournament will be played during the two hottest months of the year, bid organisers say the heat inside the stadia will not be an issue thanks to climate-controlled, zero-carbon-emitting stadiums.
The country plans to harness solar-powered technology to cool stadiums to about 27 Celsius on the pitch — a system that has worked on one small stadium in Qatar but is yet to be proved on bigger buildings. How fans will cope outside the stadiums, however, is another matter.
“The bid committee and government have been very astute about bringing in engineers, architects and designers. Given the technology they’ve already developed, it could very well also be possible to air condition fan zones, not just the stadia,” Lee said.
Though World Cups are traditionally held during the northern hemisphere’s summer months after the end of domestic league competitions, some have suggested that the event take place in January, when temperatures are a comfortable 25 degrees.