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The new city of Lusail, which is home to the stadium for the 2022 World Cup final in Qatar, is one of the places popular with fans, but also with locals. Every evening, a huge crowd strolls in the cool on Lusail Boulevard, and enjoys the many activities offered by the Organizing Committee of the World Cup.
From our special envoy to Qatar,
Seated in one of the many cafes on Lusail Boulevard, nicknamed “the Champs-Élysées”, tourists who have come for the World Cup and Qataris are enjoying a mild late afternoon. As the heat, the night has fallen, the lights as well as the huge screens on the facades of the buildings give an air of Madison Square Garden to the place. Here, unlike France and part of Europe, energy savings are far from making the news, it shines brightly.
« We are like in a dream »
On this 1,600 meter pedestrian thoroughfare, the flags of the 32 countries taking part in the competition are on parade. The music comes out loudly from the sound systems and the Qatari channel Al Jazeera has even set up a studio, in a sort of all-glass caravan. On part of the sidewalks, you can even feel the air conditioning thanks to cooling air vents on the floor. As often in Qatar, here we are once again in excess.
The 2022 World Cup final will not be played in Doha but in the new town of Lusail, 25 kilometers north of the capital of Qatar, a few minutes’ walk from Lusail Boulevard. “ It’s magic, it’s beautiful, we’re like in a dream », Slips with overflowing enthusiasm a Brazilian from São Paulo, who obviously points to the cleanliness of the place. Next door, her friend from Rio agrees and points to her, the secure and very organized side of the place and the World Cup in general. ” Not like in my country in 2014 she said, rolling her eyes. Brazil then hosted the World Cup, won by the Germans.
“Here, it was the desert when I arrived a few years ago”
Not far away, a local music group is about to play, an Indian is passing by, an Argentinian flag on his shoulders, while a Qatari in traditional dress is photographing his family with his state-of-the-art mobile phone. Mixture of sounds, colors and culture.
« Here was the desert when I arrived a few years ago “says a Frenchman who has seen the country transform at lightning speed. The new town of Lusail deploys 38 square kilometers of gigantic and sometimes whimsical spaces and constructions.
This city of the future cost 43 billion euros, or about a fifth of the 220 billion investment devoted by Qatar to the infrastructure of the World Cup. The metro station is huge, the city is made up of business districts, homes, shopping centers and hotels.
Eventually, around 200,000 people could take up residence in Lusail. There is even a place Vendôme and its gigantic shopping center, which evokes Paris with its luxury boutiques and the sign of a great French leather goods manufacturer. The streets are numbered like in New York (5th or 7th Avenue). Without forgetting little Venice and its “Yacht-Club”.
« It’s amazing what they could do in such a short time. »
The construction project of Lusail dates from before the attribution of the Mondial. Apart from its racing circuit which has hosted the Qatar motorcycle Grand Prix since 2004, and since last year a Formula 1 competition, Lusail was only a road traced in the desert.
« It’s amazing what they could do in such a short time. But there’s so much money here », indicates a young Filipino, salesman in a shop. A young woman who lives in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, finds the place very pretty, but a little too ” familial ” to his taste.
On Lusail Boulevard, we stop to take a picture in front of “La’eeb”, the official mascot of this 22nd World Cup. Then, like every evening, you can watch a spectacle of drones lighting up the sky, visible from several tens of kilometers as the country is flat. Until December 18, it will be the crowd of the big days on “the Champs-Élysées” of Lusail.