Temperatures in Qatar the world’s leading exporter of liquefied natural gas and one of the hottest places on Earth; have risen so much that authorities have installed air conditioning in the open air including in streets and outdoor markets.
The country where, summer temperatures reach up to 46C, has already started air-conditioning its football stadiums in preparation for World Cup, during Qatar’s milder winter.
However, critics said, “Qatar, may be able to cool its stadiums, but it cannot cool the entire country. Fears that the hundreds of thousands of soccer fans might wilt while shuttling between stadiums and metros and hotels in the unforgiving summer heat prompted the decision to delay the World Cup by five months.”
The change in the World Cup date is a symptom of a larger problem — climate change.
To survive the summer heat, Qatar not only air-conditions its soccer stadiums, but also the outdoors in markets, along sidewalks, even at outdoor malls so people can window shop in a cool breeze.
“If you turn off air conditioners, it will be unbearable. You cannot function effectively,” says Yousef al-Horr, founder of the Gulf Organization for Research and Development.
Al Janoub stadium is one of eight soccer stadiums that Qatar is prepping for the 2022 World Cup.
Engineering professor Saud Ghani designed the open-air stadium’s air-conditioning system.
Already one of the hottest places on Earth, Qatar has seen average temperatures rise more than two degrees Celsius above preindustrial times, the current international goal for limiting the damage of global warming.
The 2015 Paris climate summit had mentioned that it would be better to keep temperatures “well below” that, ideally to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.
So far, Qatar has maintained outdoor life through a vast expansion of outdoor air conditioning. In the restored Souq Waqif market, a maze of shops, restaurants and small hotels, three- to four-foot-high air-conditioning units blow cool air onto cafe customers. At a cost of $80 to $250 each depending on the quality, they are the only things that make outdoor dining possible in a place where overnight low temperatures in summer rarely dip below 90 degrees.
Recently, the luxury French department store Galeries Lafayette opened in a shopping mall that features stylish air-conditioning grates in the broad cobblestone walkways outside. Each of the vents, about 1 by 6 feet and has a decorative design.