The 2022 Qatar World Cup, in many ways, is set to be a pioneering event. Not just in a sporting sense where this will be the first World Cup to take place during the middle of a football season but also in terms of technological advances that the world will come to witness.
And the leading this innovation drive is Dr. Saud Abdul-Aziz Abdul-Ghani, popularly known locally as Dr. Cool. A professor at the College of Engineering at Qatar University, Dr. Saud championed and successfully helped Qatar implement the technological marvel that is the stadium cooling technology.
The revolutionary innovation has blown away critics who professed that the heat and the climate in Qatar will not be conducive for players to perform at the World Cup. Dr. Saud’s cooling technology will see the temperatures inside all stadiums regulated at a comfortable 23-25 degree celsius whatever be the mercury readings outside. And the technology is not just about cooling the air but also improving the quality of the same which will help athletes perform at an optimum level. In fact, Dr. Saud swears by the fact that the thermally-controlled stadiums will have the cleanest air in the world.
The state-of-the-art cooling technology will see around 500 nozzles blast cold air into the stadium and circulate it within to ensure the temperature does not fluctuate, for both players and fans alike.
"A lot of people ask about sustainability and I would say that it is one of the pillars of Qatar's vision for development. Yes, we use energy but we are 80 per cent cheaper and sustainable. Just because we do not need that much space. We use the best computers and technology so that we can provide an optimum temperature so that fans from across the world feel comfortable. We not only cool but also filter the air so that people do not have to take any anti-allergic during the games. We have a filter for dust, odour and since the air is recycled then it ensures that the air is purified to perfection," he says.
Dr. Saud’s technology has already been demonstrated successfully with the inauguration of the Khalifa International stadium and the Al Janoub stadium.
Specifically at the Al Janoub stadium, the technology is more efficient, given the fact that it circulates the same air to maintain the temperature bubble, as against the technology implemented at Khalifa where fresh air will be pumped.
Regardless, Dr. Saud might just have written his name into the annals of history. Sporting greatness, be it an individual, a team or an event that achieves it, is immortal. The same applies for scientific greatness as well. Dr. Saud’s innovation has the potential to revolutionise sporting calendars worldwide.
In most outdoor sports, the calendar is scheduled in such a way that the athletes do not have strain themselves in extreme conditions, hot or cold. For example, India never schedules cricket matches during the rainy season or during the hot summer months. Same can be said about most footballing calendars in Europe where the season breaks during the summer.
Tropical countries where the climate might not be the best suited for sporting events will find use for this technology which is basically most of Southeast Asia, Africa and the middl-east.
This is where Dr. Saud’s cooling technology can become a game changer. Perhaps, he has helped himself and Qatar 2022 into immortality.
The mechanical engineer is a prime example of how Qatar has been surmounting every obstacle thrown in its path to hosting football’s greatest spectacle. Right after the middle-east nation won the hosting rights, questions have been asked at every juncture.
However, Qatar has resorted to technology and innovation to find a solution and with industrial engineering experts like Dr. Saud leading their charge, the Supreme Committee of Delivery and Legacy (SC) has been able to change the tune of their critics.
Dr. Saud and team rose to the occasion when the working conditions of the labourers at the numerous Qatar 2022 World Cup sites were under question. Qatar introduced a special helmet which uses a solar-powered fan to blow air over a cooled material at the top of the helmet in order to reduce the skin temperature of the workers, one of the many innovations that have helped alleviate the concerns of the labourers.
Numerous other technical projects were initiated and overseen by Dr. Saud which has seen Qatar turn into a knowledge hub for the world.
“There has been a lot of research that has went in. Dr. Saud has done immense research in World Cup related projects. It’s nice to see that your expertise, which is ground breaking, is something which we are being asked to give advice on. We have been asked to give advice on the pitch management too,” said Nasser Al Khater, a high-ranking SC official and the CEO of the 2022 World Cup.
Perhaps Dr. Saud's greatest legacy will be sustainability of his technology and how it will influence the design of stadiums worldwide in the future. A 100 years from now, Dr. Saud hopes to see the Qatar 2022 stadiums' relevance and importance continue unabated.
"Maybe a 100 years from now, I will still see these stadiums set a standard for everybody else from up above."