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Lusail City is ready for Qatar 2022 … and beyond

Lusail stadium Foster + Partners
Lusail stadium is one of the landmarks in the shiny new city
  • The city, which was a village 10 years ago, will host the World Cup final
  • It is the first Vision 2030 mega-project to be fully functioning
  • Lusail aims to be a testbed for smart and sustainable city living

All over the Gulf, Vision 2030 mega-projects are somewhere on the road from drawing-board dream to functioning reality. One has already got there: Lusail City in Qatar.

Work on the development began almost a decade ago, spurred on by preparations for the 2022 World Cup. At the time, the site was a mere village, about 20km up the coast from the capital Doha.

Today Lusail stretches over 38sq km and its football stadium is ready to host 10 World Cup matches, including the final on December 18. It is expected to welcome thousands of fans – and is establishing itself as a 21st-century “smart city” for residents, workers and visitors after the tournament.

Life after the World Cup

This month, the Lusail Winter Wonderland theme park opens with more than 50 rides including the Qatar Airways Forest Flume and the Ooredoo 5G Rollercoaster, along with the region’s first outdoor ice-skating rink. Next year, the Qatar Grand Prix will bring Formula One fans to the Lusail International Circuit.

The 80,000-capacity Lusail Iconic Stadium, designed by Foster + Partners and cooled using solar power, will be reconfigured after the World Cup to become a 40,000-seat sporting and concert venue.

Waterfront, Water, Pier
Lusail under construction in 2015. Today it can accommodate some 250,000 residents

Events taking place at the stadium include the Bollywood Music Festival, with headline performances by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Perfect Amalgamation. Parts of the building will be repurposed for shops, cafes, educational facilities and a health clinic.

The Katara Towers, a skyscraper shaped to represent Qatar’s national seal of scimitar swords, will house Fifa’s VIP guests during the World Cup. As well as two hotels, the 40-storey building houses apartments, office space, shops and restaurants.

Across Lusail’s residential, commercial and entertainment districts, company HQs, homes and leisure facilities accommodate some 450,000 people, including 250,000 residents, 190,000 office workers and 60,000 retail employees.

Its Energy City zone has been a desert hub for the country’s oil and gas industry since 2006, but non-energy companies are moving their HQs to Lusail too. Many early adopters were companies involved in construction – Qatari Diar, the city’s state-controlled developer, Katara Hospitality, a hotel operator and developer, and Qatar Concrete, with its ready-mix batching plant.

Qatar National Bank is now based there too and hotel brands in the city include Hyatt, Rotana, Ritz-Carlton and Kempinski.

Retailers that have opened sites range from supermarkets Carrefour and Lulu to luxury label Louis Vuitton and sports brand Adidas. A Parisian-inspired shopping mall, Place Vendome, opened in April.

Locals and visitors are served by an infrastructure of road networks, a metro system, mosques, medical centres, a university and schools with a capacity of 26,000 students.

Efforts to make transport greener

Doha Metro’s Red Line runs through Lusail, giving residents and commuters convenient access to the capital. Lusail’s new tram service connects to the metro, providing energy-efficient rides across the city’s districts.

There’s also a “park and ride” model, with 6,000 car parking spots near stations to encourage drivers to use public transport.

Buses, 90 of which are electric, will provide special tournament services across 80 routes in Doha and Lusail during Qatar 2022.

Architecture, Building, Arch
Crescent-shaped Lusail Tram Station. Picture: Doha Metro

Ahmad Hassan Al Obaidly, chief operating officer of Qatar’s public transport provider Mowasalat (Karwa), said: “I encourage the people of Qatar to avail of the country’s modern public transport system and make it your preferred mode of transport.”

Abdulla Saif al-Sulaiti, chief of service delivery for Qatar Rail, said metro-link buses and trams “play a key role in encouraging the use of the Doha Metro” – launched in 2019 – as an alternative to private transport.

Net zero goals

Gulf countries are among the world’s biggest carbon emitters, even though they are accelerating investment in green energies to support the transition to renewables.

According to the 2021 edition of the Circular Carbon Economy Index, which ranks countries in terms of their progress towards net zero, Qatar was in 16th place worldwide. The 2022 index will be unveiled later this week at Cop27 in Egypt.

In Qatar – as in the UAE (12th place on the index) and Saudi Arabia (15th) – it is huge oil and gas wealth that funds the mega-projects, which act as testbeds for a more sustainable future.

Building a city in a desert is naturally an energy-intensive project. To a degree, though, newly planned municipalities such as Lusail can avoid some of the harmful habits of older cities.

Going smart and sustainable underground

The subterranean utilities networks are where some of the most significant energy savings will be made. Lusail is connected to Qatar’s natural gas distribution system, thereby reducing electricity consumption.

The city was the first in Qatar to endorse the Global Sustainability Assessment System, a performance-based rating system. All buildings hold a GSAS rating of at least two stars, having achieved targets for energy consumption efficiency, water conservation, local material sourcing, recycling and outdoor environment quality.

A stormwater drainage network will combat the floods that have caused havoc this year in parts of a region unprepared for uncharacteristically heavy rainfall. Lusail’s collected stormwater will be pumped out to sea in a controlled, automated process via 4.6km of pipeline.

Pipeline, Bed, Furniture
Tunnel for dry and wet utilities, part of the city’s subterranean network

A cooling system, designed by Marafeq Qatar, transfers chilled water in tubes that feed to each district. It is managed by a central control facility that decreases the overall power consumption of the project.

The sewage treatment plant generates effluent in compliance with environmental, health and safety requirements to serve Lusail’s irrigation and landscaping needs.

Above ground the city’s pneumatic waste collection system creates organic waste with combustion and recycling potential.

Establishing the property market  

Along with the Pearl area in Doha, Lusail is one the first places in Qatar where foreigners can own real estate, making them eligible for permanent residency without the need for a visa and with benefits including free healthcare and education.

Qatar is home to more than 2 million foreign workers, making up roughly 88 percent of the total population, and Expat Focus estimates that around 500 expats arrive in Qatar each day. The majority of the population lives in Doha, in rented apartments close to workplaces.

As more office, retail and hospitality jobs in Lusail come on stream, locals and expats are steadily snapping up villas and apartments. Since the new city is within commuting distance of Doha, some people are choosing to live in Lusail instead, for its environment.

Others are eyeing the city for rental investments for tourists and business travellers.

Grass, Plant, Neighborhood
Fox Hills is becoming a popular neighbourhood in Qatar’s newest city

Tamara Shinnawie, managing partner of 25 Space Real Estate in Doha, said: “When acquiring Lusail properties, foreign nationals can potentially profit from the rental market as work opportunities and global sporting and cultural events draw crowds to the city.

“The main selling point of Lusail’s residential units is that they are all smart homes with sustainable features. They are also some of the newest housing stock available in Qatar.”

The Fox Hills district is becoming one of the most popular places to live, offering villas, apartments, offices, shops, schools and recreational facilities.

Adam Stewart, head of property consultancy firm Knight Frank in Qatar, said: “In the run-up to the World Cup, we are seeing rental activity with landlords capitalising on rent increases of over 30 percent.

“The market is dominated by Qatari purchasers; however, the availability of permanent residency through the purchase of real estate means that purchasing a property is now a more attractive proposition for expatriates.

“The various districts throughout Lusail have different price points which means Lusail is attracting a wide range of purchasers and tenants. Marina District, currently considered as prime, is now relatively on par with the Pearl Island, Doha’s prime district.

“Lusail is the future of Qatar and we will continue to see it develop as part of Qatar’s 2030 vision.”

Bridge, Building, Urban
Suspension bridge, by Samsung C&T Corporation, connects to Lusail’s man-made Qetaifan Island

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