With the World Cup final less than a month away, the city of Lusail is strangely quiet.
Wide empty streets, empty halls and construction cranes are a familiar sight in this upmarket district 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Doha. The district was built to house soccer fans and hundreds of thousands of residents from host country Qatar.
But in the midst of the biggest football tournament, after the more than one million fans who traveled for the tournament left, there was a question about how the infrastructure Qatar built for the event would be used. , a futuristic city of nothing is asking questions. Persian Gulf.RELATED
Elias Garcia, a 50-year-old businessman from San Francisco, traveled from Doha to Lusail with friends on a non-match day at Doha’s golden bowl stadium.
“We’ve come to see it, but there’s not much here,” Garcia said, looking at the massive crescent-shaped skyscraper designed to mimic the curved sword of Qatar’s coat of arms. rice field.
Across the street, a billboard with a desert scene hid a construction site. “Everything seems to be under construction,” said Garcia. “It’s just an empty lot and there’s a little wall they put up to make you think it’s happening.”
Driving from Doha, you can’t miss the city’s glittering skyline and yacht clubs. A pastel-colored tower that looks like a stack of boxes towers over the desert. Wide streets give way to zigzag buildings, glass domes and neoclassical apartment blocks. It is not clear if anyone lives there. Most advertise as luxury hotels, apartments, or commercial spaces. Many of the buildings still have cranes.
Qatar Photo Gallery A woman feeds birds at a seaside cafe in Lusail, Qatar, November 24, 2022. Background, 24 November 2022, downtown Lusail, Qatar. (AP/PAVEL GOLOVKIN) Airplanes fly between Lusail’s crescent towers at sunrise on November 24, 2022 in Lusail, Qatar. (AP/PAVEL GOLOVKIN) A building site under construction in front of a building with a sign depicting German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer in downtown Lusail, Qatar, November 24, 2022. (AP/PAVEL GOLOVKIN)
Planning for Lusail City began in 2005, but construction accelerated after Qatar won the tournament’s hosting rights five years later. Backed by a $450 billion Qatari Sovereign Wealth Fund, the city is designed to be compact and pedestrian-friendly, and is connected to the capital, Doha, by metro and light rail.
Fahad Al Jahamri, who heads the project for Qatari Diar, the real estate firm behind the city and backed by the Qatar Investment Authority, calls Lusail an autonomous “extension of Doha.”
Officials have also said Qatar, a natural gas-rich country, is part of a broader plan in which it must build a knowledge economy, hoping the country will attract to the city in the long run. I admit to being an expert of sorts.
But reaching the goal of housing 400,000 people in Lusail means only 300,000 have citizenship and most of the 2.9 million inhabitants live in camps, not fancy towers. It will be difficult in a country with poor immigrants.
Even during the World Cup, the city of Lusail is much quieter than Doha, where many impressive buildings have been built for the tournament over the past decade.
Not many shops have opened yet at Place Vendôme, an exclusive mall named after the grand square in Paris. A few tourists took pictures of the Lusail skyline from the mall on a recent afternoon while the cashiers were discussing. Nearly everyone had left the downtown building, which houses the Ministry of Culture and other government offices, by 11 a.m., security officials said.
“Even on the subway, if you go on a non-match day, there are about 5 or 10 other people besides you.” “Garcia.”
On the man-made island of Al Maha, crowds of fans and locals were relaxing in luxurious beach clubs, smoking shisha tobacco pipes and bathing in pools.
Timothy Bert Riley was directing the staff at the art gallery opening later tonight. He said it would be a place for people to gather.
“This is a completely man-made island,” Burt Riley said. “It’s crazy what they can do.”
He said Qatar could find a way to use the infrastructure it built for the World Cup, including seven new stadiums, but admitted that it might “take time”.
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