Commentary

Qatar's World Cup legacy: air-conditioned helmets?

Banished American FIFA official Chuck Blazer's most famous line came in connection with Qatar's bid to host the 2022 World Cup.

When it became clear Qatar was a serious threat to the USA's chances and proposed to air-condition its stadiums to deal with the searing summer heat, Blazer responded, "I don't see how you can air-condition an entire country."



FIFA has dealt with the issue of the summer heat by moving the dates of the 2022 tournament from June-July to November-December, but Qatar still must deal with the summer heat.

Scientists predict that by 2100 temperatures could be “intolerable to humans” in the summer months, making Qatar inhabitable if climate change forecasts prove accurate.

Qatar isn't alone among the Gulf states threatened by the effects of the increase in greenhouse gases. But writing in the journal Nature Climate Change, American academics Jeremy Pal and Elfatih Eltahir concluded, “Doha is uniquely geographically positioned to receive hot dry air from the desert interior to the west and hot moist air from the Gulf."

Qatar won't be able to save itself by air-conditioning the entire country, but it's about to do the next best thing: air-condition your head.

The Doha News reported that researchers at Qatar University have developed solar-powered hard-hats that will cool the heads of construction workers working on World Cup 2022 projects, helping reduce heatstroke and regulate body temperatures.

The helmets, a little more than a half pound heavier and $20 more expensive than regular helmets, use solar-powered fans to blow air over cooling material at the top.

The cool air comes down over the front of the person’s face and provides a "cooler micro-climate for the worker,” according Dr. Saud Abdul-Aziz Abdul-Ghani, an engineering professor at Qatar University. He suggested employers will recoup the extra costs of the helmets from "less lost time on site due to heat-related complaints.”

Added Dr. Abdul-Ghani, “This type of body-based cooling technology has been used before in U.S. sports for training purposes in hot states, but we have now developed this innovative solution for the construction sector and we believe it has the potential to revolutionize the construction industry in hotter areas of the world."

Human rights groups and labor unions have put pressure on FIFA to get Qatar to improve the quality of working and living conditions and worker rights for the mostly expatriate work force in the Gulf state. The International Trade Union Confederation estimated 7,000 workers will die in Qatar before 2022.

According to Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, World Cup workers will be issued the new helmets next summer.

1 comment about "Qatar's World Cup legacy: air-conditioned helmets?".
  1. Chris Sapien , December 23, 2016 at 3:51 p.m.

    I hope all the FIFA execs are enjoying all their kickbacks!!

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