Lusail Boulevard, as in the “Champs-Elysées”
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The new city of Lusail, which is home to the Qatar 2022 World Cup final stadium, is one of the popular places among fans, but also among locals. Every night, a large crowd strolls in the open air along Lusail Boulevard and enjoys the many activities offered by the World Cup Organizing Committee.
From our special envoy to Qatar,
Sitting in one of the many cafes on Lusail Boulevard, nicknamed “the Champs Elysees”, World Cup tourists and Qataris enjoy a balmy afternoon. As the heat, the night has fallen, the lights as well as the giant 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 saving is far from being news, it shines brightly.
” we are like in a dream »
The flags of the 32 countries participating in the competition parade along this 1,600-meter pedestrian path. Music is blasting out of the sound systems and the Qatari channel Al Jazeera has even set up a studio, in a kind of glass caravan. On part of the sidewalks, you can even feel the air conditioning thanks to the vents in the floor. As is often the case in Qatar, we are once again in excess here.
The 2022 World Cup final will not be played in Doha but in the new town of Lusail, 25 kilometers north of the Qatari capital, a few minutes’ walk from Lusail Boulevard. “ It’s magical, it’s beautiful, we’re like in a dream », enthusiastically slides a Brazilian from São Paulo, who obviously aims to clean the place. Next door, her friend from Rio agrees, pointing out the safe and highly organized side of the venue and the World Cup in general. ” Not like in my country in 2014 he says, rolling his eyes. Then Brazil hosted the World Cup, won by the Germans.
“This was the desert when I arrived a few years ago”
Not far away, a local music group is about to play, an Indian passes by with an Argentine flag on his shoulders, while a Qatari in traditional dress photographs his family with his latest-generation mobile phone. Mixture of sounds, colors and culture.
“ This was the desert when I arrived a few years ago. “says a Frenchman who has seen the country transform at lightning speed. The new city of Lusail displays 38 square kilometers of gigantic and sometimes capricious spaces and buildings.
This city of the future cost 43 billion euros, or about a fifth of the investment of 220 billion that Qatar puts into World Cup infrastructure. The metro station is huge, the city is made up of business districts, housing, shopping centers and hotels.
Eventually around 200,000 people could settle in Lusail. There’s even a Place Vendôme and its gigantic shopping mall, reminiscent of Paris with its luxury boutiques and the sign of a major French leather goods manufacturer. The streets are numbered as in New York (fifth or seventh avenue). Without forgetting Little Venice and its “Yacht-Club”.
” It’s amazing what they were able to do in such a short time. »
The Lusail construction project dates from before the Mondial was awarded. Apart from its racing circuit that has hosted the Qatar Motorcycle Grand Prix since 2004, and since last year a Formula 1 competition, Lusail was just a road drawn in the desert.
” It’s amazing what they were able to do in such a short time. But there’s so much money here », indicates a young Filipino, a seller in a store. A young woman living in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, finds the place very nice, but a little too much” family “to your taste.
At Lusail Boulevard, we stop to take a photo in front of “La’eeb”, the official mascot of this 22nd World Cup. Then, like every night, you can see a spectacle of drones lighting up the sky, visible from several tens of kilometers since the country is flat. Until December 18, it will be the crowd of the big days on the “Champs Elysées” of Lusail.