DOHA: Qatar on Saturday revealed the design for the stadium that will in four years’ time host the first ever World Cup finals game to be played in the Middle East. The 80,000-seat Lusail Stadium – also the venue for the 2022 World Cup final – was revealed in an elaborate ceremony attended by the country’s ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and other dignitaries, including the United Nations’ secretary-general, Antonio Guterres. Hassan al-Thawadi, the head of the country’s World Cup organising body, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, called the unveiling a “significant milestone”. “Every milestone for us is always important,” he said. “The announcement of the design of the stadium is very, very important… it’s the last stadium as well.” The Lusail Stadium is the eighth and final venue to be revealed for the Qatar World Cup. Designed by British architects Foster and Partners, the stadium is said to take its inspiration from Arab craftmanship, said the committee. It also stands close to the site of the former home of Qatar’s founder, Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed bin Thani al-Thani. The stadium sits in the completely new city of Lusail, a $45 billion (40 billion euro) project located 15 kilometres north of the capital Doha. It is one of the largest infrastructure schemes undertaken by Qatar, which is undergoing enormous transformation for the World Cup. Construction work, in the shape of a Qatari/Chinese joint project, is set to finish in 2020. The unveiling of Lusail comes as world football’s governing body FIFA is still considering whether to expand the tournament from 32 teams to 48. If that expansion occurs – there is currently a feasibility study underway – it is likely that tournament games will be shared among other countries in the region.Published in Daily Times, December 17th2018.