Seven years away and already commanding a reported $200 billion budget in preparations, the FIFA World Cup 2022 has Qatari officials deliberating over proposals for an underwater TV station. Los Angeles–based artificial reef and aquarium design firm Reef Worlds is pushing designs for a $30 million underwater broadcast studio which, post–World Cup, will be turned into a public aquarium.
The studio itself will occupy a carved-out rocky cavern on the ocean floor. According to Patric Douglas, CEO of Reef Worlds, Qatar World Cup authorities warmed to the preliminary designs and “the notion of doing the World Cup underwater with sharks swimming around.” In terms of funding, Douglas predicted that it would be covered by broadcasters who want to use the film location as a base during the World Cup.
“You could underwrite the entire thing with one Sky or Latin broadcast network, they will pay you enough money to finance this thing,” he told Arabian Business. Qatari officials, who have a generous appetite for the superlative and the submerged, will decide in either July or August whether to greenlight Douglas’ plans.
A European real estate agent based in Dubai is developing a collection of three-story properties with one floor submerged as a cross between a boat and a villa. Each unit will reportedly sell for $1.4 million. Meanwhile, Polish architect Krzysztof Kotala is soliciting investors for his plans to build the world’s first underwater tennis stadium. Qatar’s current budget of $200 billion for the FIFA World Cup amounts to an eye-watering $100,000 per capita. This, of course, all comes as FIFA finds itself in a massive corruption scandal, and renewed scrutiny over why Qatar, a country with a terrible human rights record and a very hot climate, was awarded the 2022 World Cup.
Should the proposal meet a dead end, Reef Worlds is nevertheless bent on developing “sustainable underwater tourism sites” in Dubai, UAE, and the wider Gulf. The firm recently completed designs for the world’s first underwater amusement park, which is modeled after the mythical city of Atlantis and inspired by motion pictures such as Avatar and Pirates of the Carribean. If approved, the park will be built on The World, a series of man-made islands off the coast of Dubai in the shape of a map of the world.