DOHA (Reuters) – Qatar will build a stadium shaped like an Arabian skull cap for the 2022 World Cup, organisers said on Sunday, as the Gulf state moves ahead with preparations for the tournament despite a diplomatic rift with its neighbours.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates imposed sanctions on fellow U.S. ally Qatar in June and cut all transport links with the country, accusing it of supporting terrorism – a charge Doha denies.
To get around the boycott, Qatar has flown in food from Turkey and Iran and chartered ships via Oman to bring in construction materials needed for World Cup projects.
The tournament is the centrepiece of a strategy to project Qatar onto the global stage via sport.
Doha’s Al Thumama stadium, designed by a Qatari architect in the shape of a traditional knitted “gahfiya” Arabian cap, will host 40,000 fans at a World Cup quarter final match, the country’s 2022 organising body said in a statement.
“This symbolic design embodies everything that unites us as Arabs and Muslims, and is a fitting tribute to the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East,” said Hassan al-Thawadi, Qatar’s 2022 committee chief.
The venue is one of at least eight air-conditioned stadiums Qatar is building along with a new port and metro system as part of a $200 billion infrastructure upgrade.
Qatar has denied reports the Arab sanctions have hurt tourism and lowered hotel occupancy rates.