QATAR – Interview to the brand manager of the City Dressing Project in Doha for the FIFA World Cup 2022 Alexandra Oikonomidou.
Here preview of the FIFA World Cup 2022 in the interview to Alexandra Oikonomidou.
The last time we met you were still working for EXPO 2020 in Dubai. (article link to be added here). However now you are in Doha. Can you tell us for how long you have been living in Doha and what you are doing there?
Yes indeed. I moved directly to Doha after the successful completion of my project in EXPO 2020 and it is more than a year that I live in Qatar and I am heading the “City Dressing” project for the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022, the first World Cup hosted in an Arabic Country. It is a big milestone since it is the biggest sporting event ever organized in the GCC region and this makes the City dressing project very demanding.
So you are involved in the FIFA World Cup that will take place from November 20th till December 18th. What is the main deliverable from your side?
As a Mega events branding specialist my focus is on providing the Festive atmosphere in the City of Doha for the upcoming FIFA World Cup. In order to achieve the best results on this project I need to create a visitor journey and get inside the emotional status of the local and international guest once coming to Qatar to enjoy the tournament. Through the City dressing my goal is to create emotions to different target groups once they arrive in Qatar to enjoy this magnificent event. The visitor journey starts with the entry points (the 2 airports, the Metro Stations, the Land Border from Saudi Arabia) and then it spreads around the points of interest (the City Centre, the famous Souqs and the magnificent Museums) to end up with the so called “last mile” areas, where the guests are going towards the 8 football Venues that the Tournament takes place. The journey is being completed with the same care and attention on the points of exit sending a goodbye message to all visitors that is being expressed in the sentence “cant’ wait to see you again”.
Here in Doha you are responsible for the City Dressing Project. What does this mean? What is your project consisting of?
The visitor journey that I described above needs to be expressed using the City infrastructure as a canvas to express all these emotions through images, colors and graphics. Starting from the points of entry we start by dressing the airports with all the brand elements of FIFA World Cup 2022, the transport vehicles, and applying free standing structures so that people can take photo memories from all points of entry.
Once they enter in the metro to go to their accommodation or to the venues they will enjoy the colorful train stations and carriages dressed in the form of football pitch and hanging footballs on the handrails of each train.
Colorful column wraps give the excitement of the event and raise the enthusiasm.
Once our guests arrive in the City Centre they can be amazed by full building wraps in the Skyline that show 32 players -1 from each participating country- competing around the City and communicating the values of the event. At the same time, in the Souqs, the local markets we create a set of Qatari animals, falcons, Oryxes, Camels, horses, that have the colors of the brand and they give the feeling of the event in a more cultural way. Once we go around the City we see lighted structures specially made to communicate messages of Amazing, Fabulous, Friends, together, Celebrate and raise the beat. It is important that we give equal attention to the City Dressing on both Day and night time that is why we have illuminated the City with numerous lighted structures and hanging lights.
3D projection mapping is the biggest surprise in the FIFA world Cup. Various shows, of 3D mapping in the most iconic buildings of Qatar create a “must see” experience to all visitors.
So how are you transforming the City of Doha and what kind of adjustments and amendments have you done up to now?
Up to now we have dressed 16 Buildings with images portraying the Players of the 32 participating Countries, we have completed the dressing of the Hamad International Airport as well as the Metro Stations and Main Ticketing Centre Located down town. This is just the beginning, 65 days before the event. Please consider that the complexity of dressing a City is quite high since we need to secure all appropriate permits, deliver technical drawings and engineering calculations for all our structures, as well as we should secure our foot prints around the City so that there is no overlap with any other activation around the City.
From what I understand you are responsible for the “look and Feel” of the City of Doha. Correct?
Yes. Correct. I have to make sure that the City is getting dressed with its best colors, graphics and atmosphere for the whole 28 days of the tournament and everyone leaves with a sense of happiness and lots of beautiful memories.
Can you explain to us the differences between the Dubai and Doha lifestyle?
Qatar is a completely different Country compare to the UAE. More low profile and traditional, family oriented. Very close to Dubai but very far in terms of lifestyle. In Doha what I really enjoy is the National Museum and the National Library while anticipating the reopening of the Museum of Islamic art on the 5th of October.
In terms of work lifestyle I wouldn’t move to this City if I hadn’t found new interesting elements to deliver like the 3D projection mapping project which requires meticulous planning so that it can be successfully delivered. It is my work that moves me from Country to Country and not the City itself.
Doha is a small City opening to the world with a small pace. Dubai has already achieved that and is considered a highly visited City and a touristic destination. Qatar still needs a bit of time to achieve something similar and all these big events are helping into this direction since people will see Qatar and will probably change their mindset towards this Country. Qatar can be a great host and FIFA World Cup is a unique opportunity to show a great hospitality.
Would you consider moving to Italy for the Winter Olympic Games in Milano Cortina 2026?
I would be happy too as long as I have a nice proposal and I can contribute to the evolution of the event. I avoid repetition in my work and my life goal is to evolve through learning and doing new things, especially now that technology can be a very powerful tool for a more efficient project delivery.
Can you give us some highlights from what we are expecting to see in Doha for the FIFA World Cup 2022?
The biggest surprise is already in place. It is the first World Cup happening during winter time for the majority of the world while in Qatar is the best season for people to enjoy the City. I am doing my best to make it look incredible and unforgettable for everyone visiting. Unfortunately unless someone visits Qatar for the World Cup will not be able to feel these emotions that my work will transcend.
Photo by Alexandra Oikonomidou
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