Doha, Qatar: A proposed FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 tournament venue showcased its versatility at the weekend when it hosted popular Indian music star AR Rahman.
More than 20,000 fans attended Rahman's concert at Khalifa International Stadium – which is the first tournament-ready venue for Qatar 2022. The multi-Academy Award and Grammy winner performed a mesmerising three-hour set that included contributions from more than 80 different artistes.
As well as contributing to the Qatar-India 2019 Year of Culture, the event highlighted Khalifa International Stadium's legacy use more than three years before the FIFA World Cup kicks off. It also illustrated the stadium's versatility – showing it's adept at hosting both sporting and cultural events. As well as hosting FIFA World Cup matches in 2022, the stadium will host the World Athletics Championships later this year.
Khalifa International Stadium, which features state-of-the-art cooling technology, was declared tournament-ready in May 2017 when it hosted the Amir Cup final between Al Sadd and Al Rayyan. The stadium, which underwent an extensive redevelopment in order to meet FIFA requirements, will host matches up to the quarter-finals stage in 2022 and boast a capacity of 40,000 seats.
The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), the organisation responsible for delivering the infrastructure and legacy for Qatar 2022, used Rahman's concert as an opportunity to engage with the local community and demonstrate the ability of the stadium to function as a vibrant community hub. More than 6,000 Qatar 2022 construction workers were invited to attend the event, while the SC collaborated with Qatar Volunteers Group (QVG) to provide more than 400 volunteers.
QVG, which has been active for eight years, led the volunteering efforts during the event. The SC received 6,000 applications to volunteer at the concert and worked alongside QVG to select the most suitable 400 people.
Mead Al Emadi, the SC's Community Engagement Manager, said: "This is all part of our efforts to activate and engage with our volunteers. Utilising opportunities such as this – at one of our FIFA World Cup venues – will help us to plan and deliver our mega-event in 2022, including crowd management, way finding and audience services.
"I'd like to thank Qatar Volunteers Group for their ongoing support. Their knowledge and advice is helping us to prepare for Qatar 2022."
Meanwhile, during the lead-up to the show the SC engaged extensively with the local Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi and Nepalese communities. A film featuring leaders from each community showcased the benefits of engaging with the SC and being a part of Qatar's World Cup journey.
Al Emadi said the concert provided a perfect opportunity to further strengthen links with Qatar's south-east Asian communities.
"We've made a huge effort to involve every community group in Qatar's World Cup journey and since signing an agreement with community associations in 2016, it's great to hear that people are benefitting from our initiatives long before the tournament kicks off," said Al Emadi.
"The film of our community leaders was shown twice during the concert and highlighted people's passion and excitement for the World Cup. The leaders also spoke of the benefits of engaging with the SC, such as their community members learning new skills and getting to meet the key people involved in organising this mega-event. From day one we have said everyone in Qatar is a part of our World Cup journey – and it's great to see this coming to fruition."
Rahman's concert was organised by Katara Studios in association with Qatar Airways. Strategic partners for the concert included the SC, Ministry of Culture and Sports, Aspire Zone and LuLu Hypermarket.