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Infrastructure main issue for Qatar World Cup

London, July 7, 2011

While critics of Qatar's hosting the 2022 World Cup focus on its fierce summer temperatures and tiny size, its main challenge is building the infrastructure, said a partner with the firm designing stadiums for the event.

'To build 350 km of railway tracks, all the new roads and highways parallel to that, all in all will be the biggest challenge,' said Joachim Schares, managing partner at Albert Speer and Partners (AS&P), in an interview with Reuters at the Meed Qatar Infrastructure Conference in London.

'I think with the stadiums itself, in a period of 11 years, you don't have to worry. This is sufficient time to develop them, but the entire concept of the transportation infrastructure is quite ambitious.' 

The tiny Gulf state has launched a massive spending programme in recent years to build infrastructure needed to accommodate its rapidly expanding population, now estimated at 1.7 million. Plans are in place to complete a metro system connecting every stadium by 2017, with each no further than one hour apart.

The Qatari government has allocated a whopping 40 percent of its budget between now and 2016 to infrastructure projects, including $11 billion on a new international airport, $5.5 billion on a deepwater seaport and $1 billion for a transport corridor in the capital, Doha. It will spend $20 billion on roads.

Stadium construction for the World Cup should cost just under $4 billion, with the first venue to be built by 2015, Schares said. 'It depends also on inflation and other things. It is around a little bit less than $4 billion,' he said.

Qatar, which last December won the rights to host the tournament in a surprise vote by Fifa, will build nine new stadiums for the event and renovate three.     

'The idea is to have one stadium operational in 2015 ahead of the others in order to test technology, together with the modular seating concept in order to avoid mistakes in the other stadia,' Schares said.

'(Whether) they are building the stadia one after the other, or if they plan to build them parallel or partially parallel, is not clear so far and has to be worked out by the programme manager, which should be appointed in the last quarter of this year.'     

As many as 170,000 seats will be made available to be shipped off to developing countries, including the entire Doha Port Stadium. No further talks with Fifa have taken place on specific plans for where stadium parts might be sent, Schares said.

Event organizers say they have tackled the problem posed by summer temperatures that can exceed 50 degrees Celsius by designing climate-controlled, zero-carbon-emitting stadiums.

'(If) ... something went wrong, we would have classical bio-diesel-fuelled energy in machines that would allow to cool the event,' Schares said.

'We have to bear in mind that we still have 11 years of technical development in front of us, so I assume the cooling issue will not be a critical one.'     

On Wednesday, a senior stadium engineer said Fifa could allow matches at the 2022 World Cup to be played over three 30-minute periods if temperatures in the stadiums became dangerously high for the players.  - Reuters




Tags: Qatar | roads | Infrastructure | railway | World Cup | stadium |

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