Welcome to Lusail. Its Place Vendôme and its gigantic shopping center. Its “Brioche Dorée” and its luxury store Louis Vuitton. Its little Venice and its “Yacht-Club”. Its Marina and its 88,000-seat football stadium, home to the World Cup final, on Sunday 18 December. Welcome to Lusail, a futuristic city in Qatar located 15 kilometers north of Doha, at the cutting edge of technology where neighborhood life is undetectable. Here, the horse-drawn carriages are electric and the parks for strolling straight out of an American TV series, impeccably clean, splendid in design, incredibly calm.
Over an area of about forty square kilometers, the buildings already built adjoin the many under construction, surrounded by cranes, or vacant lots that will not remain so for very long.
In Lusail, the superficial is king. Like this long avenue close to the gigantic car-free stadium with its shops with giant screens lit up with a thousand lights, a reduced-scale copy of New York’s electric Times Square.
A city started in 2006
The decor is strange, striking, leads to questioning and a parallel with certain episodes of the “Black Mirror” series is observed. Lusail is a new city whose process was sketched out in 2004 and which sees itself as a new urban center, the second capital of the country, behind Doha. It should have nearly 300,000 inhabitants, in the long term, but the account is not there yet. Lusail will cost between 40 and 50 billion euros. A few years ago, before 2006 and the laying of the first stones, the site was only empty and deserted. This former grazing ground is part of the boundless development process of Qatar, which has seen its population increase considerably over the years. The project, launched in 2008, is called the “Qatar National Vision 2030” and consists of developing the country’s influence in various fields thanks to its gas revenues. Lusail is one of them. And because housing is a rare commodity in the small state of the Arabian Peninsula, 11,500 square kilometers large, and it is aiming for six million tourists by 2030, it is building with a vengeance. And invests the space at its disposal.
“Make them models of entertainment”
Find several Western luxury brands, as well as many major international brands (Zara, Starbucks, Mango, Dolce & Gabbana, Paul, etc.), but also five-star hotels where the majority of FIFA employees are staying during this World Cup , is therefore not a surprise. Lusail wants to attract. To seduce, Qatar puts the environmental and sustainable aspect at the forefront of its development policy. It is visible in places in the city. But not everywhere either, far from it.
“Lusail is like Qatar,” explains Kévin Veyssière, an expert in geopolitics. Their ambition is to transform the entire territory to make them models of entertainment, as is happening in Dubai, the Emirates, but also in Saudi Arabia with the construction of the future city of Neom
. We are going to turn them into technological jewels very focused on sustainable development, on this concept of smart cities with many cultural or entertainment venues that can be the showcase for Qatar, with the aim of exporting internationally. »
A few metro stations from Lusail, Katara’s “Oriental Disneyland” format cultural site, decorated in cardboard, is part of this logic, built barely ten years ago. Lusail, home village of Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, founder of Qatar in 1878, is a city that sets the stage for the future. A young city with no real identity, yet. A city of the future, since that’s how we should call it.
Neom is a futuristic new town project in the northwest of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in the heart of the desert, which should extend over 170 kilometers. Are evoked in the construction of this future city, robotic valets for the inhabitants, flying drone taxis, phosphorescent beaches and… an artificial moon.
Soccer. 2022 World Cup: welcome to Lusail, city of the future [Vidéo]