David Roberts

Qatar 2022: Fake Clouds, Solar Powered Shades

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Qatar World Cup organisers are taking inspiration from TV show The Simpsons in attempting to block out the sun.

As you know the World Cup in 2022 will be held in Qatar. More specifically, it will be held in the summer in Qatar. One need not be a meteorologist or a veteran of the Gulf to know that this is not the world’s most sensible idea (as FIFA’s own technical report noted).

Still, c’est la vie and all that.

To counter the gross heat two super ideas have surfaced in the past few days: Artificial clouds and a floating solar powered shade. Great ideas. What can possibly go wrong?

But even were I to  – grudgingly – cover up my eternal cynicism for a moment or two, it must be pointed out that these ideas are really rather exceedingly far from remotely solving the problems. Crucially, the oppressive humidity will still be around (if not made worse by extra cloud cover).

Back to the drawing board, fellas.

One Response to Qatar 2022: Fake Clouds, Solar Powered Shades

  1. AR 02/06/2012 at 10:52 PM

    So many issues here related to the challenges of Qatar’s hosting a World Cup in the summer, most of which are never addressed in NY Times, BBC, etc.

    Having lived here in Doha for some years, I can tell you that blocking the sun — if they could actually make fake clouds or shades work — doesn’t solve the problem. The heat and humidity are so oppressive here in the summer that it’s not simply a matter of finding a shady spot.

    Past host countries have held games in their various major cities, thus spreading out the visiting fans across the land; however, Qatar intends to host all the fans of the largest single sporting event in the world in a single, small city? I realize they have 10 years to create the accommodations, restaurants, and transport needed for this to happen, but even the most visionary current residents of Doha might argue that it’s a stretch. Then again, with the money they have here (almost unlimited), they may well achieve it, BUT: at what non-financial cost? We are already seeing the unfortunate and deadly consequences of building things too quickly here in Qatar.

    3) Alcohol. A lot of beer and other drinks get consumed during a typical World Cup month. Many fans expect it. Will Qatar accommodate this unofficial tradition (or, at least, this expectation)? Or perhaps they will create a truly regional version of a World Cup where alcohol simply is a very minor factor, limited and restricted to only a few areas. Can one host a ‘dry’ World Cup?

    4) Heat and health. If, for some reason, transportation doesn’t work as expected, and fans decide just to go it on foot, I would imagine a great possibility of cases of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and even heat stroke. Or if the taxi system is as bad as it is now (where you can’t simply flag a cab down on any street you happen to be on), what are ticket-holders going to do? Continue to wait outside for a taxi? Keep walking to try to find a taxi stand? The point is: you can’t have anyone outside for any length of time in Qatar in the summer because it’s dangerous.

    5) The issue of temperature-controlled stadia continues to be mentioned as the ultimate solution to the summer temperature problem. What does not seem to be addressed is: what are fans supposed to do when they are not at the games? Just for argument’s sake, to break it down a bit: let’s say a family comes to Qatar for one week and attends 4 games during that time; this means that in seven days, they will spend a total of approximately 11 hours in a stadium (assume for each 90-minute game, plus 15-minute halftime, the family spends another 60 minutes on site inside the stadium). This leaves 157 remaining hours for the week not in an air-conditioned stadium. Obviously, they’re going to sleep maybe 57 of those hours in their air-conditioned hotel room and eat another say 35 hours in air-conditioned restaurants. The remaining 65 hours are their leisure time: time when they would be “taking in the sights” and participating in the many activities a World Cup country has to offer. Well, in 120 degree F (48 Celsius) heat, those activities will all have to be done indoors or in an air-conditioned car. My point is that I can’t imagine where all these fans are going to go to keep themselves entertained, indoors, in a single city for 65 hours without going stir crazy. Granted, there are world class museums here already and more on the way, but are a few museums really enough to keep all the fans occupied? Simply put, there isn’t that much to do here as it is, and already the malls and roads are extremely crowded — and this is just considering the current resident population of 1.8 million. Where do they expect to put and keep entertained 500,000 tourists for a month in the summer? (That’s how many fans visited South African at W.C. 2011).

    Obviously both Qatar and FIFA think it’s all feasible. I’m unaware of their master plan to account for all these issues; maybe the master plan is still a work-in-progress. But I will watch with rapt attention as 2022 grows closer. And I plan a return visit for a few days in 2021, just to drive around the city and see what’s become of Doha. Good luck, Qatar.

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