Glitzy World Cup opening showcases Qatari culture

The opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 blended the tradition of Qatar with the modernity of the West. The inauguration of the first football World Cup in the Middle East and Arab world took place at the 60,000-capacity Al Bayt Stadium outside Doha on Sunday.

Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani opened the tournament saying: “From Qatar, from an Arab country, I welcome everyone to the World Cup 2022.”

“We have worked hard, along with many people, to make it one of the most successful tournaments. We have exerted all efforts and invested for the good of all humanity. Finally, we have reached the opening day, the day that you have been eagerly waiting for,” the Amir said.

The ceremony began with cultural performances showing aspects of the history of Qatar and the Arab countries in celebrating and honouring guests. The ceremony also included videos about the marine culture that distinguished the people of the Arabian Peninsula, and their communication with the world through the sea.

A stunning light show added to the glitter of the ceremony, which was held ahead of the match between Qatar and Ecuador.

The event carried an important message from Arabs to the whole world, extending an invitation to unify humanity, and bridge the gaps based on race, culture, colour and nationality through acceptance, respect and co-existence, with the World Cup serving as one tribe connecting people and the earth as a homeland for all, Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.

The show fused Qatari traditions with global culture through seven dazzling performances.

Two bridges made of light represented the significance of connecting the people’s vastly distanced ideologies through dialogue and understanding to reach co-existence.

The first performance — The Call — presented cinematic scenes of the response to a call from the sound of 12 strikes from a Golden Mortar by a Qatari woman.

The sound, which calls for unification, was followed by a whale shark that the Qatari coasts are famous for, emerging from the sea and flying over an Arab land and desert.

Then two luminous bridges appeared and a globe formed under the feet of the travellers who wore clothes reflecting their diverse cultural heritage and races.

The first performance presented several symbols with each one carrying a specific meaning — the mortar symbolising Arab hospitality and the 12 strikes representing Qatar’s preparations for the World Cup over 12 years.

The second performance entitled ‘To Know One Another’, in which legendary Hollywood actor Morgan Freemen talks with Qatar’s Ghanem Al Muftah, who represents the new generations in the region, each of them standing on a lit bridge that expresses different points of view and different opinions. The two sides engage in a high-level dialogue where misconceptions, that lead to applying double standards and hasty judgments, are corrected. The two bridges get united by a visual display symbolising acceptance, respect and coexistence.

Started with the Qatari dance Ardah, the third performance at the opening ceremony, ‘The Rhythm of the Nations’, was entirely devoted to celebrating football fans from all over the world. As a tribute to fans, the most famous national team chants from 32 participating countries were brought together in a colourful and contemporary performance for the first time in World Cup history.

The chants coincided with the entry of aesthetic and festive elements, starting with country flags and team jerseys.

In the fourth performance, ‘Football Nostalgia’, past World Cups and their host nations were celebrated through a musical performance.

In one of the performances, the Official mascot ‘Laeeb’ emerged with the music of ‘Dreamers’, a song performed by Alicia Keys, Qatari Singer Fahd Al Kubaisi and the Korean artist Jung Kook of BTS.

Qatar’s story with football was told in the sixth performance, entitled Dream, through a visual historical narrative that showed how the dream was rooted in the heart of this country from the beginning, and then culminated in hosting some of the biggest events in the world, including the World Cup.

The opening ceremony ended with the seventh performance ‘Here and Now’ where the official logo of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 rose to a height of 15 metres.

At the end, the various elements of the ceremony came together: team jerseys, tournament mascots, actors and performers with a selected group of fans from all over the world, reliving the feeling of celebrating the championship in an absolutely unforgettable way in a spectacular wrap-up, for the sky to light up with a dazzling fireworks show.

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