• Khalifa International Stadium will be home to Qatar's first stadium-based sensory room
  • Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy has partnered with the Ontario Centre for Special Education
  • Room will provide space where people with cognitive disabilities can feel comfortable as they enjoy live football 

As the first 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™ stadium opened its gates for the Emir Cup final – to widespread acclaim – a pilot sensory room project also kicked off, potentially changing the way that people with cognitive disabilities experience football, reports sc.qa.

The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) has partnered with the Ontario Centre for Special Education (OCSE) to develop Qatar’s first stadium-based sensory room, which will provide a space where people with cognitive disabilities can feel comfortable as they enjoy live sport.

The room, which is located at Khalifa International Stadium, benefits from noise cancellation, soft furnishings, mood lighting, relaxing music and brightly coloured sensory toys and equipment. These features are designed to manage a person's anxiety and allow them, as well as their families and friends, to watch football matches in a welcoming, calming and inclusive environment.

Mariam Al Rashdi, founder of the OCSE, was inspired by the work of the SC’s Accessibility Forum and decided to donate resources from the OCSE’s sensory room for the pilot.

“An environment was required which can help those with additional needs to cope with the excitement and stimulation happening at a football game,” she said."This sensory room was never a FIFA requirement; it was Qatar saying that we have thought about people with cognitive disabilities who require extra support to watch football.” 

The SC has clear inclusivity goals, which are embodied by the new facility at Qatar’s first completed stadium for the first FIFA World Cup™ in the Middle East.  

“It is our ambition to ensure that football can be enjoyed by all, irrespective of ability,” said Samantha Sifah, head of community outreach at the SC.“Football is more popular than ever in Qatar and across the region, and fans should be able to watch their favourite team play, with equal opportunity to attend, participate and contribute to the atmosphere.

“Accommodating the needs of people with disabilities is a reflection of the country’s ambition to prioritise accessibility throughout every sector. As we look to create new sensory rooms in the stadiums we are building, it is only a matter of time before these spaces are as commonplace in football stadiums as bathroom facilities or food concessions.”