One of the hottest places on Earth, Qatar has seen average temperatures rising more than 2 degrees Celcius above pre-industrial times. On one such ordinary day, the mercury shot up to 116 degrees Fahrenheit (46.7 degrees Celsius) in the shade outside the new Al Janoub soccer stadium. It's like God has pointed a giant hairdryer at Qatar, said Saud Ghani, an air conditioning expert.
The temperatures have shot up so high that the country has started air-conditioning outdoors.
To make the air cooler inside the open-air stadium, small grates adorned with Arabic style patterns have been fitted beneath each of the 40,000 seats to push the cool air at the ankle level.
An engineering professor at Qatar University, Ghani designed the system at Al Janoub. It is one of the eight stadiums in Qatar where preparations are going on in full swing to get in shape for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. He realized that he had to cool only the people, not the upper reaches of the stadium, which is an exquisite structure designed by the renowned Zaha Hadid Architects and inspired by traditional boats known as dhows.
The world's leading exporter of liquefied petroleum gas, Qatar might be able to cool its stadiums but cannot cool the entire country.
Qatar's anxiousness about the hundreds of thousands of soccer fans who will be shuttling between stadiums and metros and hotels in the unforgiving summer heat prompted the decision to delay the World Cup by five months. It is now currently scheduled for November during Qatar's milder winter.
The change in the date is due to the larger problem of climate change.
Over the last three decades, an increase in temperature in Qatar is alarming. During July 2010, the temperatures hit an all-time high of 50.4-degree Celcius. To escape the summer months, Qatar not only air-conditions its soccer stadiums but also the outdoors which includes the markets, sidewalks, and outdoor malls so that people can window shop with a cool breeze.