Photos: Eight well-designed stadiums from the Middle East
Sports stadiums are no longer spaces where you simply "sit and watch the game," Avinash Kumar, a parter at Godwin Austen Johnson, once said. "They now need to provide a completely immersive experience. Some football clubs use retractable turf, while the back-of-house and guest experiences are designed to allow spectators to enjoy the space before and after the games. Modern stadiums have to be designed to improve the customer experience, not only for sporting purposes, but overall."
King Fahd International Stadium, Saudi Arabia: In January 2017, Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Sports awarded a contract to Schiattarella Associati for the modification of the Riyadh facility. The Italy-headquartered architect will oversee the refurbishment of a section of the stadium large enough to accommodate almost 50,000 spectators. Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, UAE: Located in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, designed by Pattern Design Limited, opened in 2014. The $39.4m (AED145m) sports facility has a capacity of almost 25,000, and hosts the home games of Al Ain FC. Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium, Lebanon: Originally built in 1957 by the Lebanese Ministry of Youth & Fine Arts during the presidency of Camille Chamoun, this multi-purpose stadium has a capacity of 48,837 seats and is located in the Bir Hassan area of Beirut. While demolished during the Israeli Invasion of 1982, the Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium was rebuilt in 1997 and designed by Laceco Architects & Engineers. Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium, Kuwait: Kuwait’s Public Authority for Sports developed the Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium, a multi-purpose facility designed by Weidleplan Consulting in the country’s capital. Inaugurated on 18 December, 2015, the facility has a capacity of 60,000 spectators, and is the home of the national Kuwaiti football side. Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex, Oman: Locally known as Boshar, the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex is a government-owned multi-purpose stadium in Muscat’s eponymous Boshar district. According to Oman Professional League’s data, the stadium is currently used “mostly for football matches”, and is the home of Oman’s national football team. The stadium, which has previously hosted the 2009 Gulf Cup of Nations and the 1996 Gulf Cup competition, was designed by Roy Lancaster associates and has a capacity of 39,000. Azadi Stadium, Iran: Formerly known as Aryamehr Stadium, the Azadi Stadium in Tehran was designed by SOM and inaugurated in 1971 under the Mohammad Reza Pahlavi — the last Shah of Iran. Home to the country’s national football team, the Azadi Stadium has a capacity of 100,000 spectators and is part of the much larger Azadi Sport Complex, which features amenities for weightlifting, swimming and indoor volleyball. Mohammed bin Rashid Stadium, UAE: In May 2016, it was announced that the $816.7m (AED3bn) Mohammed bin Rashid Stadium would be developed Dubai’s Al Aweer locality. Designs for the 60,000 seat-strong stadium by Perkins + Will, which comply with FIFA’s standards, feature a training hall, a 5,000-space car park, a sports museum, and conference halls. King Abdullah Sports City Stadium, Saudi Arabia: Designed by Arup Associates, the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium — nicknamed ‘The Jewel’ in Arabic — opened its door in 2014 and has a capacity of 60,000.