Judging by the looks of the newly renovated Khalifa International Stadium—the first stadium construction project the nation has completed ahead of the 2022 World Cup it will host—Qatar’s massive population of migrant workers, who toil under life-threatening conditions in a working system often described as slave-like, sure have been worth every penny they have (or have not) been paid to build the thing. Because it’s a beauty!
We’ve been anticipating what would come from this marriage of some of the world’s brightest architectural minds with the region’s most desperate, exploited, poorest laborers ever since digital mock-ups of the stadium and hotel plans hit the web. And boy, the finished product does not disappoint.
Let’s get a couple more looks at this marvelous exterior of Khalifa Stadium:
Impressive, right? Fun fact: along with being Qatar’s first completed World Cup project, Khalifa Stadium was also one of the first FIFA-funded construction sites where human rights watchdog group Amnesty International discovered systematically abusive labor conditions! And to think, in an environment like this—working long hours without receiving timely (if any) payment, without the ability to return home (the vast majority of low-skilled workers in Qatar are migrants from nearby countries; estimates of Qatar’s entire population put the percentage of residents that are migrant workers at around 90 percent), without the ability to change occupations unless their current employers allow it, and in hazardous working conditions that have been projected to result in more deaths than 9/11—these workers came up with something so cool to look at! You can just about feel the haunting details of the migrant workers’ plight slip right out of your mind with every shot of that awesome roof.
It’s not just the stadium’s sleek and pristine exterior that demonstrates these slave workers’ astounding amount of professionalism and care—much more care than has been shown to them by the Qatari government, the local construction contractors, FIFA itself, and the multibillion-dollar advertisers that support FIFA, all of which are either tacitly or directly profiting from slavery. The luxury boxes, the pitch—all of it is just as dreamy:
This breathtaking stadium is to be the venue for World Cup matches up to the quarterfinal stage. That should mean some of the biggest and best soccer players on the planet at that time will grace the stadium with their presence. The likes of Neymar and Christian Pulisic are going to look great sprinting up and down that perfectly manicured pitch, so much so that you may even forget all about the years of punishing slave labor that went into its construction. Because who wants to think about heat-induced heart attacks and deplorable housing conditions when there are so many cool pictures to look at? They’re just so damn neat!