Al Thumama Stadium: The Middle East’s Most Intelligent Infrastructure

Rick van Otterdijk

Standard technology and integration wouldn’t cut it when it came to providing the ultimate fan experience at last year’s FIFA World Cup. Find out how Al Thumama Stadium prepared for this high-tech sports competition.


 Designing, renovating and constructing eight stadiums in less than 12 years: That’s the task that was given to Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) when it was announced that the country would host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.


As the entity responsible for the delivery of stadiums and infrastructure for the month-long event, the SC quickly got to work developing this campus of sports venues, including the 40,000-seat Al Thumama Stadium, which served as one of the host locations for the competition.


When talking about the FIFA World Cup, the SC knew that standard technology and integration couldn’t possibly support the information and broadcast innovation that would be needed in order to provide the ultimate fan experience. Bringing more than 3 million spectators together for the world’s most prestigious and historic football tournament requires more than a typical professional stadium.


From the moment fans stepped inside Al Thumama Stadium, the SC wanted to give them the most exciting and interactive atmosphere possible. As a result, it would be the only venue in the Middle East with an intelligent infrastructure capable of supporting artificial intelligence and IoT. 


To meet this goal, the SC team focused on these four factors for Al Thumama Stadium:


1. Sustainable design and operations

This was a massive project—one with the potential to have a massive impact on the environment. The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy wanted to do everything it could to minimize energy use and rely on renewable energy without compromising the comfort level of fans and athletes.


From its solar panels to its energy-efficient data center, which features a containment system design that separates cold supply airflow from hot air coming out of equipment exhaust, green construction and energy efficiency were always at the forefront.


As a result of its efforts, the stadium received a five-star rating from the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS). It’s one of the highest ratings available.


2. Real-Time visibility

Once the tournament was over, the stadium would be repurposed to include a 60-room hotel in the upper stands and host other types of sporting events, making it Qatar’s ultimate sporting destination.


Because the stadium will be used for many kinds of games, matches, tournaments and competitions—each with its own technology and network requirements—real-time visibility of network ports and fiber links were important.


To achieve this, Belden’s PatchPro® Intelligent Patching System was used to increase real-time visibility. Through RFID (radio frequency identification), it makes wireless identification of individual patch cords and real-time monitoring of network infrastructure possible.


Each patch cord features an integrated RFID chip that contains valuable identification information about the cable. This information seamlessly moves into the PatchPro DCIM/AIM software platform for real-time database documentation. This allows critical systems to be monitored for potential bottlenecks (hotspots, excessive power usage, etc.), minimizes the time needed to prepare for assessments and connects network managers with a wealth of data they can use to make decisions about capacity and upgrades.


3. Designing for future scalability

For the FIFA World Cup of today, Al Thumama Stadium needed to be able to support remote management of stadium systems for staff, as well as live streaming, highlight replays, meal ordering, merchandise shopping and MVP voting—all from fan seats.


But when it comes to the technology needs of tomorrow? No one knows for sure. Regardless of what new innovations emerge down the road, the stadium will be ready to support them—without having to replace existing infrastructure.


The venue has more than 520,000 meters of Category 6A cabling and 120,000 meters of fiber cabling in place to support the information and broadcast technology inside the stadium today, with the ability to connect and integrate new technologies in the future.


4. Dedication to data security

A global event like the FIFA World Cup can’t risk even a moment of downtime—both for viewers inside the stadium as well as the more than 1.5 billion watching from home.


To ensure data and network security, Belden’s PatchPro Intelligent Patching System monitors for unintended physical changes to the network infrastructure. If something is altered, network managers are immediately notified so issues can be addressed before problems arise.


Achieving an amazing goal

Last year, Al Thumama Stadium successfully hosted six group stage matches, one round of 16 games and one quarter-final game.


If you were one of the 3.4 million fans in Qatar for the competition, or you were watching along at home in another country, then you know: The data center and networking solutions designed and deployed by Belden proved to be robust enough to support the incredible demands of this sporting event.


To learn more about our involvement in this project, read our recent case study.


Related resources:

Al Thumama case study

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