The opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 at Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday saw the East, with a Qatari flavor, meet the modernity of the West.
The ceremony, which came directly ahead of the opening match between hosts Qatar and Ecuador in group A, saw a stunning light show.
The World Cup opening ceremony is considered one of the most important events that are aired globally and watched live worldwide.
Today's ceremony presented a contemporary global show that carried an important message from Arabs to the whole world, extending an invitation to unify humanity, and bridge the gaps between all differences based on race, culture, color, and nationality through acceptance, respect, and coexistence, with the World Cup serving as one tribe connecting peoples and the earth as a homeland for all.
“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. Starting from this evening, and for a period of 28 days, we will follow, and with us the whole world, God willing, the great football festival, in this spacious ambience for human and civilised communications. People of different races, nationalities, faiths and orientations will gather here in Qatar, and around screens on all continents to share the same exciting moments. How beautiful it is for people to put aside what divides them in order to celebrate their diversity and what brings them together at the same time. I wish all the participating teams a magnificent football performance, high sportsmanship, and a time full of joy, excitement and delight for you all. And let there be days that are inspiring with goodness and hope. I welcome you and good luck to all.”
The show fused Qatari traditions with the global culture through seven dazzling performances.
The ceremony symbolically presented two bridges made of light, representing the significance of connecting the people's vastly distanced ideologies through dialogue and understanding to reach coexistence.
The first performance in the ceremony, entitled 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, is followed by a whale shark that the Qatari coasts are famous for, emerging from the sea and flying over an Arab land and desert.
The rhythm of the mortar, which symbolizes Arab hospitality, roams the five corners of the earth, so travelers hear the long-awaited call and begin their journey to connect together in Qatar at Al Bayt Stadium.
As the familiar sound of the mortar reverberates inside a tent, three Qatari women, in Qatari traditional dress, stand beside their camels. Then, Qatari artist Dana's voice is widely heard across the stadium while singing her I wish I were a Tent, inspired by a folkloric song from the Gulf region. The scene highlights the hardships of the journey, the beauty of being connected, and the sufferings of those waiting for their loved ones.
Then two luminous bridges appear and a globe forms under the feet of the travelers who wear clothes reflecting their diversified cultural heritage and races.
The first performance presented several symbols with each one carrying a specific meaning, with the mortar symbolizing Arab hospitality and the 12 strikes representing Qatar's 12-year preparations for the World Cup.
The whale shark was chosen because Qatar is home to one of the largest concentrations of whale sharks in the world. In the lore of the seas, the whale shark is considered one of the "gentle giants" with white spots, a sign of optimism, a symbolic creature, and a spiritual compass for all navigators.
International artist Morgan Freeman gets acquainted with the young Qatari Ghanem Al-Muftah, who represents the new generations in the region, and each of them crosses a bright bridge expressing different points of view and divergence of opinions. A high-level dialogue takes place between them in which some misconceptions about duality are corrected. The criteria and how to make hasty judgments, based on the dialogue that took place between them, which included a clear reference (O people, we created you from male and female, and made you peoples and tribes so that you may know each other).
The show ends with the "Hayya" song indicating welcome, during which all participants in the painting gather in a symbolic formation in which all are equal.
“Rhythm of Nations,” was entirely dedicated to celebrating football fans from all over the world, as a tribute to the true heart of the sport, the fans, the most famous cheers for the participating teams from 32 countries.
The chant coincides with the entry of aesthetic and festive elements, led by the flags of the countries and a procession of the shirts of the teams participating in the tournament. Then the real heroes are the fans from all 32 countries who are present at Al Bayt Stadium
"Spherical Nostalgia", during which the previous World Cups and the countries hosting them were celebrated, through a musical artwork mixing memories that resonate with football fans all over the world and non-fans alike, to a musical rhythm with floor projections. Geometric visuals were in perfect sync with the performers.
The screens at Al Bayt Stadium displayed the most memorable moments in the past World Cups mixed with artistic elements such as the talismans of the 10 official World Cups in an embodiment of the idea of the animated mini-series "The World of Talismans" that was released for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
Qatari singer Fahad Al-Kubaisi, and international Korean star Jungkook from BTS perform the hit song 'Dreamers'.
The song "Dreamers" embodies the aspirations of a nation that dared to dream and made that dream a reality in a message to the world that Qatar makes you an important part of the realization of this dream. As I promised 12 years ago, the time has come, here and now.
As for Qatar’s own story with football, it is presented by the sixth panel of the opening ceremony, “The Dream.” It contains a visual historical narrative that shows how the dream was rooted in the heart of this country from the beginning, which culminated in hosting some of the biggest events in the world, including this tournament.
At the end of the video, His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Amir of the country, hands a copy of the historic shirt seen in the video to His Highness the Father Emir to sign as a symbol of legacy.
Footage of this historical video is shown for the first time, in which we see His Highness the Father Emir and a group of his friends who have contributed to building this country while playing football.
Lastly, "Here and Now", which is the conclusion of the opening ceremony from the land of Qatar to the world, with a distinctive appearance of the official logo of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 from the ground to the world, with a distinctive height of 15 meters.
In the final shot, the various elements of the ceremony came together: team jerseys, tournament mascots, actors, and performers with a select group of fans from all over the world, reliving the feeling of celebrating the championship in an absolutely unforgettable way in a spectacular finale, and as the meeting is completed the sky fills with a fireworks display.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, said: “Family of football. Welcome to Al Bayt Stadium. Dear friends, welcome to Qatar. Welcome to the World Cup. Welcome to your home. Welcome to celebrate football, because football unites the world. Now, let’s welcome the teams and let the show begin. All the best to everyone. Congratulations!”
A capacity crowd of 67,372 attended the Group A encounter between Qatar and Ecuador, with the South American nation claiming a 2-0 victory thanks to two goals from Enner Valencia.
Sources: Qatar News Agency, Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy
Cover image credit: QNA
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