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Exploring sustainable development in hot and arid climates | Qatar University

Exploring sustainable development in hot and arid climates


The Problem

During the bidding period for Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar needed a standout proposal that would get the recognition it needed to qualify. Qatar was competing against countries with more experience in hosting international sporting events, more trust from the general public in their organization and well-placed infrastructure. The Qatar bidding team had to innovate.

Moreover, the World Cup was set to take place in the summer of 2022, where temperatures in Qatar could climb to around 35 °C (95 Fahrenheit) and 45 °C (113F). This posed a problem for future visitors who would undoubtedly spend much of their time outdoors, in open stadiums or visiting different sights in Qatar.

The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) reached out to Dr. Saud Abdul-Aziz Abdul-Ghani, a Professor at Qatar University, and an expert on the topic of engineering in air-conditioning. Dr. Abdul-Ghani says, "In engineering, where there is a problem, there is a solution." The problem, in this particular situation, was how to air-condition a number of open stadiums that could reach 80,000-seat capacity, in intense desert heat.

The solution

Alongside the SC, and with their support, Dr. Abdul-Ghani and his team first created a solar-powered cooling helmet for workers constructing the stadium to prevent them from being exposed to the challenges from extreme heat. The innovation, “has the potential to revolutionize the construction industry in hotter areas of the world,” says Dr. Abdul-Ghani.

The team then focused on the topic of the stadiums. After extensive research and testing, the team came up with a state-of-the-art cooling technology that blows cool air on the players via pitch-side air conditioning vents and a similar technology placed under each audience member’s seat, which then mimics a natural cool air draft.

While the World Cup may have been the catalyst for the invention, the cooling system proves to be beneficial in many areas. The technology is being used in Qatar for agricultural purposes and has already been implemented in outdoor public spaces, meaning visitors of these areas can enjoy cool temperatures year-round despite what the thermometer reads. This could greatly change the lifestyles of people living in hot climates.

Not only is the innovation groundbreaking, it is also sustainable, the machine recycles the cool air emitted and circulates it back, making it 40% more sustainable than existing technologies. Cooling a stadium will only use one-fifth of the air it would require for an airport terminal for example.

Dr. Abdul-Ghani has also generously chosen not to patent the under-seat diffusers, a move designed to benefit the scientific community.

Dr. Saud Abdul-Aziz Abdul-Ghani
Engineering Professor at Qatar University