AFC Asian Cup Opening Ceremony

A spectacular theatrical opening ceremony that raises the bar for pre-match entertainment.

Following the landmark success of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, the country was once again in the spotlight as it hosted the 18th edition of the AFC Asian Cup in January 2024. With expectations set sky high, the organisers were looking for an Opening Ceremony that defied the conventions of traditional pre-match entertainment and set the tone for the tournament.

Tasked with meeting this mammoth challenge was Qatar-based Katara Studios, with Shannon Gobell appointed to the role of Technical Director for the project. “I received the call from Katara back in late July 2023,” he told TPiMEA, recalling how he got involved. “From the moment the creative was presented to me it was clear that this would be a staggering challenge. I guess that’s what attracted me to it!”

With just over five months to put the project together, Gobell and the wider Katara team launched straight into setting up the framework of the production, finalising the budgets, putting operating systems in place and engaging staff. “By the time all that was in place, we were left with around three months to deliver a large, world-class ceremony – which is no mean feat,” he commented, recalling how it was a busy period generally for major events in the GCC, with COP28, UAE Union Day, Saudi Seasons and Red Sea Film Festival just a few of the events all taking place in quick succession. “Finding the right staff and suppliers was a challenge, but we’re incredibly pleased with the team we brought in – everybody did a fantastic job.”

Photos: Katara Studios, Sila Sveta, Ralph Larmann