There’s a party going on in Lusail.
The palm-fringed Marina Walk, leading from the Arabian Gulf to the wide expanse that is Lusail Boulevard, is full of food stalls representing pretty much every nationality living in Qatar, and the boulevard is buzzing with life. This annual International Food Festival – the next edition is slated for January 24 – February 4, 2024 – is one of many events in Lusail. Like others, it has moved from the capital Doha to this, Qatar’s newest city – 10 miles north.
Touted as Qatar’s “City of the Future,” construction of Lusail began in 2006, long before Qatar was announced as the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup – yet you’d have been hard pushed to have found many people who had visited before the grand Lusail Stadium became the main stage for the soccer tournament.
Those who came found there’s more to the city than event spaces. Lusail is home to grand shopping malls, theme parks, a wealth of international restaurants, islands, and two iconic new additions to the Qatar skyline.
The Katara Towers, the near-circular building modeled on the scimitar swords that make up Qatar’s emblem, play host to two luxury hotels, the Fairmont Doha and the all-suite Raffles Doha, the country’s first six-star hotel. Both are the first properties for their respective hotel groups in Qatar – and while they’re Doha by name, they’re firmly Lusail by location.
Then there are the four subtly twisting Lusail Plaza Towers, which seem to morph in height and shape as you approach the city. They’re the work of Foster + Partners, who also designed the Lusail Stadium. Suspended between them is a shimmering metallic sculpture – a great whale-shark, “Al Nehem,” by Italian artist Marco Balich.
Nineteen residential, business and mixed districts make up Lusail, some more developed than others – since the city is still under construction. The stadium and Lusail Plaza Towers are connected by Lusail Boulevard, which regularly plays host to parades and events, from the food festival to the annual Classic Car Show.
“The future of infrastructure is unlimited in the Middle East,” says Bryce McDevitt, vice president of Parsons Corporation, which is overseeing construction. “There is a sense of imagination and possibility that doesn’t exist anywhere else. Building a clean-sheet city allows for tailored design of your objectives: sustainability, accessibility and economic equality.”
He adds: “One major advantage of the ‘from the sand’ approach is that when designing and building a city from scratch, we are not fettered by existing infrastructure. Roadways, airports, public transit, landscape, and urban design can all be built with smart sustainability in mind.”