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Photo for illustrative purposes only.

With just five years to go before the 2022 World Cup, Qatar has almost completed its first stadium for the tournament.

Khalifa International Stadium in Al Waab will be ready to launch next month, organizers have announced.

The venue marked a milestone this week after 7,800 square meters of turf was laid there in record time.

According to the Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF), a new world record was set after the pitch was put down in just 13 and a half hours.

Stadium construction

Khalifa International is one of Qatar’s oldest stadiums, and has been undergoing renovations over the past few years to become tournament-ready for 2022.

It has a 40,000 seat capacity and will host games up to the quarter-finals during the tournament.


Al Wakrah stadium seat design

At least seven more stadiums in Qatar are expected to be up and running by 2020.

However, Khalifa International was expected to be handed over by the end of 2016.

Since it is at least four months behind schedule, whether the other venues will be completed in three years’ time remains to be seen.

They are Al Rayyan, Al Wakrah, Al Bayt Al Khor, Qatar Foundation, Lusail, Ras Abu Aboud and Al Thumama.

Growing grass

In a statement, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SCDL) said the pitch was transferred from its “turf nursery” in Al Rayyan.

A dozen different species of grass are currently being tested inside the farm, which is being run in conjunction with the AZF.


Laying down the pitch at Khalifa International stadium

The most resilient, highest-performing and best-looking turf will be used on the stadium pitches for the World Cup matches.

The SCDL is also operating a tree and turf nursery in northern Qatar. The aim of that space is to grow greenery to surround Qatar’s World Cup stadiums.



World Cup project workers

An audit of contractors on 2022 World Cup projects in Qatar found many to be working their staff too hard, according to a new report.

For example, half of the 10 contractors interviewed failed to give their employees one day off a week.

And many construction workers faced 72-hour weeks, instead of the 48 hours stipulated in a charter established by tournament organizers.

Construction work at Khalifa Stadium

Peter Kovessy / Doha News

Reconstruction of Khalifa Stadium, for illustrative purposes only

These findings were published last week in an independent report commissioned by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SCDL).

The Annual External Compliance Report was authored by London-based ethical trade consultancy Impactt.

It was hired by the SCDL in 2016 amid growing international concern about human rights violations in Qatar, and will be monitoring World Cup project sites in the coming years.

Charter compliance

Currently, about 10,000 people are working on World Cup projects in Qatar. That number is expected to surge to a peak of 36,000 workers by next year.

Marco Zanferrari/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

To win tenders for tournament projects, contractors and subcontractors had to agree to abide by the SCDL’s workers’ charter.

The document covers living conditions, ethical recruitment, workers’ nutrition and on-site health and safety, among other things.

During its first audits, Impactt spoke to 10 contractors and 253 workers over the past year to see whether companies were adhering to the charter.


While companies mostly complied with rules about housing and safety, many fell down when it came to issues such as proper rest and setting up grievance mechanisms.

For example, some employees worked up to 18 hours a day (instead of eight to 10).

However, Impactt said that “solid progress” was made after the non-compliance issues were pointed out.

Construction workers at the Khalifa Stadium

Peter Kovessy / Doha News

Khalifa Stadium renovations for illustrative purposes only.

It added that a follow-up audit conducted in January of this year found that 78 percent of issues were resolved, especially those involving medical care, transportation and end-of-service procedures.

That said, eight out 10 contractors still failed to provide an annual flight home to their employees.

Because this requirement is not legally required in Qatar, it “highlights the barriers which the SC faces in trying to advance practices beyond local law and common business practice,” the report said.

Notably, World Cup project workers account for just a fraction of Qatar’s overall blue-collar workforce. Most employers in the country are not as stringently monitored or bound by the same higher standards.


Many of Impactt’s recommendations for the contractors involved making changes to company culture.

Construction workers eat at the Khalifa Stadium

Peter Kovessy / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

For example, it urged that more be done to:

  • Amplify workers’ voices, because capturing their feedback will help management and 2022 organizers best understand which issues matter to their staff;
  • Build management skills by training foremen, accommodation managers and welfare officers to develop respectful people skills; and
  • Shore up grievance mechanisms to ensure workers are treated fairly and help drive positive change.

Impactt also urged the SCDL to participating in “multi-stakeholder action” to resolve more systematic problems.

These include the exorbitant recruitment fees workers pay to get to Qatar and the substitute contracts that may await them upon arrival.

For its part, the SCDL said in a statement:

“While the findings clearly state there are challenges, they also demonstrate our continued commitment to this process.

We will do everything necessary to ensure the issues identified are dealt with promptly.”

What’s to come

In the coming year, 100 percent of contractors across nine active projects will be audited for compliance to the charter.

At least five percent of the workers employed by each contractor will also be interviewed.


Impactt initial audit scope

Additionally, the SCDL has agreed to establish a worker hotline for grievances, continue to work with international unions on joint health and safety inspections of construction and housing sites; and complete a worker survey.

Impactt interviewed a small sample of workers about their priorities and found that respect, a better future for their families and income security were among the things that mattered most to them.

However, a much larger sample is needed for these results to be considered representative, it said.



Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar is planning to spend a lot less on hosting the 2022 World Cup than it originally planned, according to tournament organizers.

Speaking to CNN this week, one official said the budget has been reduced by 40 percent.

But he added that this was not in response to lower oil prices, which has caused Qatar’s government to curb its spending in recent years.

Secretary general Hassan Al Thawadi


Secretary general Hassan Al Thawadi

Rather, the goal is to “ensure there is financial responsibility,” said Hassan Al Thawadi, secretary general of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SCDL).

He said that the supreme committee now plans to spend about US$8 to US$10 billion on tournament infrastructure.

Most of that will go toward stadiums and training grounds.

It does not count highways, hospitals or the upcoming Doha Metro, which the country’s finance minister included when he recently estimated that $500 million a week was being spent ahead of 2022.

Stadiums taking shape

FIFA has not yet finalized the number of stadiums Qatar must have ready in five years time. But Al Thawadi confirmed the country is expecting it to be eight.

“We are moving ahead with eight stadiums and in case discussions go on, there might be an extra stadium to be developed,” he told CNN.


Khalifa International Stadium rendering

Most of those venues are being built completely from scratch, and all stadiums are expected to be completed by 2020.

Some, like Khalifa International Stadium on Al Waab, are almost complete, though slightly behind schedule.

Meanwhile, work on the Al Khor Al Bayt and Al Wakrah stadiums is expected to wrap up next year.

But other venues remain in the preliminary stages. For example, design for at least three of the venues, including Al Thumama, Lusail and Ras Abu Abboud have yet to be revealed.

Homegrown seats

Also this week, the SCDL announced that the seats for three of its World Cup stadiums will be made in Qatar.

The committee awarded a contract to Coastal Qatar to build 500 seats a day for the next several month months.


Al Wakrah stadium seat design

They will be installed in the Al Wakrah, Al Bayt and Al Rayyan stadiums.

In a statement, the SCDL said the first “Made in Qatar” seat will be installed in the Al Bayt Stadium in December of this year.