Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup: Technologically advanced stadiums will cater to the needs of specially-abled

The stadiums include a quiet room for those with cognitive disabilities.
Loukia Papadopoulos
Representational image of a woman in a wheelchair.jpg
Representational image of a woman in a wheelchair.

freedom007/iStock 

The FIFA World Cup to be held in Qatar this year is leading the way in accessibility for specially-abled people, according to a report by Euronews published on Wednesday. The event is making sure all can enjoy it.

The technologically advanced stadiums aren't only wheelchair accessible, other amenities have also been included, such as a quiet room for those suffering from autism and other cognitive disabilities. The room is meant to give a safe haven for those overwhelmed by the World Cup's loud crowds.

The special room was developed by Sana Abu Majeed is a periodic occupational therapist at Renad Academy, an autism school based in Doha. 

The room is located at Education City Stadium and has been in development since 2020. It was first unveiled at last year's Arab Cup. 

"Most of the people that are neurodivergent can get overwhelmed by noises, can get bothered by lighting, can find crowded settings really discomforting. That's where a sensory room comes into play. These environments are meant to calm and relax individuals," Majeed told Euronews.

A safe space for those who need it most

Ghanimeh El-Taweel, an affiliate instructor, at Hamad Bin Khalifa University also participated in the design of the special room. She offered her recommendations on signage, lighting, and the designated routes for people with disabilities, making sure everything was designed to offer the maximum comfort to those who need it most.

Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup: Technologically advanced stadiums will cater to the needs of specially-abled
The FIFA World Cup is held in Qatar this year.

"We assessed the metro and the tram. So... I think the tram, implemented what is called a wheelchair tray. You're supposed to ask for it before you actually ride the tram, but we told them this should not be asked for, it should be available at all times. It was locked behind closed doors. There's no need to lock them, so that will also change," she explained to Euronews.

Ahmed Habib, the senior media content specialist for the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the government body that oversees everything related to the World Cup, told Euronews that Qatar 2022 will provide a platform that has the potential to usher in a new era for accessibility in the country.

The most accessible edition of the FIFA World Cup

"I think that everything is in place for this to be the most accessible edition of the FIFA World Cup. Work began a very long time ago by including members of the disabled community, and by putting in place the highest standards at the tournament venues. But also by making sure that the tournament plays a transformative role in ensuring that the whole country becomes more accessible." 

Habib speaks from experience as he too uses a wheelchair.

"It's very rare to have stadiums like we do here in Qatar. All eight stadiums are brand new, and provide an opportunity for wheelchair users like me to sit in multiple areas of the stadium, and to have multiple vantage points to watch the games," concluded Habib.

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