Thirty-two teams and more than 1 million football (soccer) fans headed to Qatar in November 2022 for the World Cup. The destination is Doha, Qatar’s fast-growing capital city.
The Operational Land Imager-2 (OLI-2) on Landsat 9 captured this natural-color image of Doha on November 13, 2022. The city, with a population of 2.3 million people, sits on the eastern shore of a small peninsula on the Persian Gulf. Development radiates outward from Doha’s historic city center along a series of ring roads. The development includes an extensive amount of artificial land built to accommodate airport and port facilities, as well as entirely human-made islands that have become hubs of residential and commercial activity, such as the pearl-shaped Pearl-Qatar.
Stadiums are among the most visible features built since 2010, when Qatar was named the host city of the event. There are eight official stadiums, seven of which have been built since 2010. All of them are located within a 54-kilometer (33-mile) radius of Doha, making the 22nd World Cup the most geographically compact event since the first FIFA-organized tournament in 1930. The venues for past World Cups were spread between multiple cities that were generally hundreds to thousands of kilometers apart.
The venues feature an array of distinctive designs. The largest, Lusail Stadium, will hold 80,000 spectators and has a gold exterior designed to look like traditional hand-crafted bowls from the Arab and Islamic world.
The exterior of Al Janoub Stadium, located in a part of the city known for pearl diving and fishing, looks like the bottom of a boat. The circular Al Thumama Stadium, situated near the airport, was built to resemble a gahfiya—the traditional woven cap worn by men and boys across the Middle East.
When the tournament is over, only Khalifa International Stadium will be used as the home of a football (soccer) team. The rest will be repurposed as hotels, community spaces, or smaller sporting facilities. One venue—Stadium 974—is made from 974 portable shipping containers and will be completely disassembled when the World Cup is over.
NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Story by Adam Voiland.