11-20 Qatar blue road

[Image above] Blue is the new black for certain Qatar roads. Credit: AFP news agency, YouTube

When it comes to international sporting events, planning begins early. For example, host cities for the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup are traditionally selected seven years in advance. In the past decade, though, this planning has moved even earlier.

The International Olympic Committee picked Los Angeles 11 years in advance for the 2028 Summer Games (a historic decision now officially allowed based on recent reforms to the Olympic Charter). And in 2010, FIFA made headlines by naming Qatar the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Choosing Qatar to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup was big news for more than just the fact it was done 12 years in advance. For one, Qatar will be the first time the FIFA World Cup is held in the Middle East. And it also will be the first time the FIFA World Cup is held in the winter rather than summer.

Located on the Persian Gulf, Qatar averages high temperatures over 38°C (100°F) in the capital Doha, with temperatures continuing to rise. Moving the FIFA World Cup from June to November is one way to keep competitors and attendees cool. However, Qatar is actively seeking technological solutions as well.

One such solution is outdoor air conditioning, an approach Qatar is vigorously expanding. Another solution is painting the roads blue.

In August, Qatar’s public works authority Ashghal completed implementation of a cool pavement pilot project in Doha. They painted up to 200 meters (656 feet) of vehicle lanes by Souq Waqif and 200 meters of pedestrian and bicycle paths in front of Katara Cultural Village with a one-millimeter-thick blue heat-reflective pigment containing hollow ceramic microspheres designed to reflect infrared radiation.

According to the Washington Post, “Temperature readings dropped by as much as 12 degrees to a mere 58ºC (136.4ºF).”

The pavement project will run for 18 months, at which time Ashghal will assess the results and determine the pigment’s wider applicability. In the video below, Alex Amato, head of sustainability at Qatar Green Building Council, discusses hopes for the project and other cooling technologies.

In addition to implementing technologies to keep competitors and attendees cool, Qatar is busy tackling another challenge as well—finding enough rooms for all the expected visitors.

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Credit: AFP news agency, YouTube