The opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 at Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday saw the East, with a Qatari flavour, 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.
Yesterday'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, colour 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.
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 symbolises Arab hospitality, roams the five corners of the earth, so travellers 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 travellers 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 symbolising Arab hospitality and the 12 strikes representing Qatar's 12-year preparations for the World Cup.
The whale shark was selected as Qatar is considered to be a home to one of the largest whale shark congregations in the world. Whale sharks are also seen as gentle giants, with their white spots signifying optimism.
The second performance entitled To Know One Another, in which legendary actor Morgan Freeman 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 get engaged in a high level dialogue where misconceptions, that lead to applying double standards and hasty judgments, are corrected through dialogue which refers to the Qur'anic Ayah "O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another". The two bridges get united by a visual display symbolising acceptance, respect and coexistence.
The performance ends with the Hala song indicating welcome, during which all performers gather in a symbolic formation exalting equality.
Starting with the Qatari Ardah, the third performance in the opening ceremony, The Rhythm of the Nations, was entirely devoted to celebrating football fans from all over the world. As a tribute to the true heart of the sport, the fans, the most famous national team chants from 32 participating countries have been brought together in a colourful and contemporary performance for the first time in World Cup history.
The chants coincide with the entry of aesthetic and festive elements, starting with the flags of the countries and the jerseys of the teams participating in the tournament. Then the real heroes, the fans from all 32 countries who are present at Al Bayt Stadium, are highlighted.
In the fourth performance Football Nostalgia, past World Cups and their host nations were celebrated through a musical performance that blended memories that resonate with football fans non-fans alike from all over the world, set to a musical beat with geometric visual floor projections in perfect sync with the performers.
The screens at Al Bayt Stadium displayed the most memorable moments in the past World Cups editions mixed with artistic elements such as the mascots of the 10 official World, in an embodiment of the idea of the animated mini-series The World of Mascots that was released for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
In the fifth performance, the Official mascot of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 La’eeb emerges 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 shows 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.
At the end of the video, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani hands a jersey to His Highness the Father Amir to autograph it as a symbol of legacy.
Footage from this historical video was displayed for the first time, showing His Highness the Father Amir and a group of his friends who have contributed to building this country were playing football.
The opening ceremony was wrapped up by the seventh performance, entitled Here and Now where the official logo of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 logo rose from the field to the height of 15 metres.
At the end of the ceremony, the various elements of the ceremony come 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 get lit by a dazzling firework show.