The sparkling metro built under the Qatari desert
(CNN) – It’s fast. It is driverless. It has a Gold class for premium passengers. And it’s one of the most advanced metro systems ever built.
This is the Doha Metro, a sparkling transport system that will transport fans to their destinations during next year’s FIFA World Cup and, hopefully, will revolutionize transportation in Qatar.
Built mostly underground and through the Qatari capital and its suburbs, the network has been operational since 2019, providing a reliable transportation alternative in a booming city where residents have long relied on cars and traffic is often blocked.
The first phase of the project saw the creation of 37 stations, with three lines – Red, Green and Gold – stretching along a 76 kilometer (47 mile) network.
The 60-meter-long fully automated trains have a capacity of 416 passengers and are divided into three sections: Standard, Family (for single women and men or women traveling with children aged 11 or under) and Gold ( Goldclub travel card holders) classify.
Clean and spacious, the trains can go at up to 100 kilometers per hour (60 mph) and are fully equipped with CCTV systems and public Wi-Fi. They even have USB ports so Gold Class travelers can charge cell phones and tablets while in transit.
Merge past and future
Metro trains can travel up to 100 kilometers per hour.
The stations have all been designed to represent a vision of both modernization and preservation, merging traditional features of regional architecture with a contemporary approach.
“It was important that the design was linked to its context, to the city of Doha and to Qatar”, Ben van Berkel, co-founder of UNStudio, a Dutch architectural firm that has partnered with the railway architecture department of Qatar to create the stations. , says CNN Travel.
“We wanted to merge Qatar’s past and future into one move, so we took inspiration from various traditional Qatari architectural elements – especially the arch – and adjusted that to create what we call ‘vaulted spaces’. “, did he declare. said.
“So while the exteriors somewhat refer to the monolithic strength of ancient Qatari architecture, the interior spaces create an effect of light, movement and fluidity.”
Design and planning goals
The metro is a crucial part of Qatar’s plans to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
While curved shapes and lighting were key design elements, maintaining a clear architectural identity was also essential.
Van Berkel said one of the main challenges of a brand new project of this magnitude was to “create a design that allows for both consistency and individuality”.
“On the one hand, we must create points of recognition throughout a city, on the other hand, each station must have its own scale, its identity and respond to its specific context”, he explains. .
The architects approached this problem by using recurring elements and materials, including solid sandstone exteriors and striking interiors with pearly iridescence – a nod to Qatar’s long history as a major diving center and of the pearl trade.
By designing a standard but adaptive system, it also became possible to use a variety of configurations, each meeting the specific requirements and sizes of individual stations.
“The scale of Doha’s metro network required careful planning in order to meet a strict schedule and minimize disruption to existing infrastructure,” Van Berkel said. “For this reason, flexibility has become a design and planning goal at all levels.”
Msheireb station is at the heart of the network.
At the heart of it all is Msheireb station, the largest in the network, as well as its interchange serving as a hub for the three lines that cross it.
Large and elegant, the impressive resort comprises a total of four main levels and is approximately 40 meters deep. Past its illuminated entrance, triangular arched shapes adorned with pearly hexagonal tiles give a futuristic look that extends to the platform levels.
The station’s rich interior spaces also offer an array of commercial boutiques, while the modest exterior is dotted with bicycle racks.
Outside, commuters and passers-by can also marvel at a mural by Doha-based artist Abdulaziz Yousef Ahmed titled “Family Reunion” – one of the many works of art on display along the network , which includes a replica of the Greek statue of Delphi “that World Cup spectators will encounter upon arrival at the Hamad International Airport metro station.
The world’s biggest football event is still over a year away, but preparations are already underway, with the new underground rail network at its heart.
Inside Sport City Station, large posters of blue and white soccer balls with arrows point in the direction of nearby Khalifa International Stadium, one of the venues that will host the 2022 Qatar Soccer World Cup.
The ecological heritage
Msheireb station connects the three lines.
Organizers expect more than a million people to arrive in Doha during the inaugural World Cup to be held in the Middle East and the Arab World – and the metro system was designed to be its mainstay transport.
The system connects Doha’s Hamad International Airport directly to five of the eight stadiums hosting the Qatar 22 matches, with the remaining compact event venues accessible via a mix of train and bus options.
Organizers say the Doha Metro, along with the bus and tram lines, will shuttle between their hotels, stadiums and various tourist attractions in the city.
Beyond the World Cup, officials see the expanding Doha metro as a key part of the infrastructure of Qatar’s National Vision 2030 – the gas-rich country’s development plan to diversify its economy – which will benefit to future generations in the years following football. tournament final on December 18, 2022.
“The legacy that eco-transport will leave is something that will be felt by everyone in Qatar long after the World Cup,” said Thani Al Zarraa, director of mobility for the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Transportation. legacy of the event.