'Save the Date' for Qatar's 2021 Calendar of World Cup Events
The Qatar National Tourism Council recently released its 2021 events calendar via its official digital platform designed to help visitors and residents to find out about events being held in Qatar throughout the year. With the 2022 FIFA World Cup on the horizon, it is no surprise that several major milestone events are outlined on this year's calendar:
Qatar's 2021 football calendar starts with a bang, the postponed 2020 FIFA Club World Cup kicks off in Doha on February 1st and runs to the final on February 11th. The tournament will decide which team, from the world's six football confederations and the host nation's national league winners, will be crowned 2020 world champions. The competition will be held across three of Qatar's new World Cup '22 stadiums - Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Education City Stadium and Khalifa International Stadium. Continuing on from 2020's football events successes, Qatar will be hoping to open the doors of its stadiums to limited numbers of fans.
During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Qatar managed to hold not only all of its planned domestic football games, the Asian Football Confederation's Asian Champions League tournament, and, the highlight of the Qatari sporting calendar, the Amir Cup, but also achieved a 20,000 fan attendance at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium inaugural football match in December. The successful management of several major sporting events during the crisis should ensure that football in 2021 is played with a high degree of normalcy.
Another highlight in February will be the unveiling of the 2022 World Cup mascot. The FIFA World Cup has had a multitude of mascots from lions, a leopard, a wolf and an armadillo, to a jalapeno pepper and an orange. So, what will the 2022 mascot be?
Mascots, a playful way of representing a brand, are usually in the form of an animal, a person or an object that signifies aspects of the person, group or thing they represent. Qatar already has an array of mascots to symbolise national events, sporting tournaments, organisations and attractions, including the Arabian Oryx, the camel, the falcon, the desert fox, the jerboa (a desert rodent), the caracol (a type of desert cat), the dolphin and the dugong (also known as a sea cow), as well as an oyster and a little Qatari guy. Each has represented specific aspects of the nation. For the 2022 World Cup, the new mascot will surely epitomise the country's vision, ambition and competitive nature to become the first Middle Eastern host of the World Cup, and build a tournament from the ground up. Or maybe it will reflect the country's courageousness, adaptability and resilience in a crisis. After all, the country has continued to stay on track for 2022 despite the global pandemic. Whatever the design, it is certain to be a popular addition to FIFA's mascot hall of fame.
Two significant milestones in the Qatari calendar will be the inauguration of the latest 2022 World Cup stadiums to reach completion, Ras Abu Aboud Stadium and Al Thumama Stadium. Highlighted to open in May alongside the beginning of the Amir Cup football tournament, one can only guess that one or the other of the new stadiums will host the competition's opening match. Previously, Khalifa International Stadium was opened during the 2017 Amir Cup final, Al Janoub during the 2019 Amir Cup Final, and Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Qatar National Day during the 2020 Amir Cup final.
With COVID vaccination programmes now active, a limited number of fans could be invited to attend the inauguration ceremonies. As two of the most exciting of the new 2022 World Cup developments, fans will be in for a treat at either venue.
Ras Abu Aboud Stadium
Located on the edge of the Persian Gulf, with some of the most spectacular views of Doha, the Ras Abu Aboud Stadium is a demonstration of modern innovation with its pioneering design and construction. The 40,000 seat venue, built up around a steel frame, uses shipping containers to form the construction's main building blocks. Besides creating an aesthetically magnificent edifice, the containers, assembled and crafted to house most of the stadium's functions and facilities, provide a sustainable blueprint for future stadium construction. Containers require fewer building materials and produce less waste than traditional stadium construction. The use of modular components also helps to reduce the duration of construction, saving time and costs. By its design, the stadium can be deconstructed after use, giving it an entirely temporary nature. Once dismantled, the containers, seats, roof and other prefabricated and modular components can be recycled. Thus, compared to traditional stadium design solutions, this type of stadium's carbon footprint is significantly reduced.
Al Thumama Stadium
Al Thumama's 40,000 seat stadium, in the peaceful district of Al Thumama, is designed to reflect and symbolise Arab identity, and Qatari independence. Instantly recognisable as a 'gahfiya' - a woven cap - worn by boys and men in Qatar and throughout the Arab world, the stadium's impressive design signifies aspects of Arab culture and tradition that spans the globe. Young boys wear the ghafiya cap on its own until they reach adulthood and independence, after which the cap supports the 'gutra', a loose headdress held in place by a black rope called an 'agal'. Therefore, the gahfiya is also a symbol of independence, something Qatar fought for and continues to develop for the nation's future. Though traditional in its design, this state-of-the-art stadium, which was designed and built and will be operated to the highest levels of sustainability, is an outstanding representation of the past and the future.
Towards the end of 2021, Qatar will mark the one-year countdown to the 2022 tournament kick-off. Numerous events will be held to celebrate the 365-day prelude to the world's most popular sporting competition. With the majority of the event venues and infrastructure projects for the tournament completed, the final year's focus will be the fan experience - so, expect plenty of fan orientated celebrations!
In December 2021, the final World Cup stadium will reach completion. Lusail Iconic Stadium is projected to be inaugurated during the last month of the year. It is more than likely that the inauguration date will be closely aligned with the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup* final and Qatar National Day on the 18th.
Considering Lusail Stadium is the biggest stadium for the 2022 games and will host the final and the closing ceremony, its inauguration should be a spectacle to behold. Those lucky enough to attend the event will be the first to take their seats in the 80,000 capacity venue, the first to admire its ultramodern design and sustainable innovations, and the first to marvel at the host of smart technology available to spectators. Shaped like a traditional handmade bowl from the region, this mammoth stadium, located in the heart of the ultramodern city of Lusail, is sure to delight all who arrive at its doors.
2021 promises to be a significant year in terms of preparations for the 2022 World Cup, and after a year encumbered by coronavirus, 2021 will definitely be a year worth waiting for.
For more information about events in Qatar across 2021, click the following link: Qatar Calendar 2021.
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