A sea of people applauds out of joy and excitement as the stage near the Katara beach rolls out a series of exceedingly talented performers.
A man pulling off crazy stunts on his BMX bike, a woman acrobat placing herself in a ring and rolling along the length of the stage, a bunch of men in light-fitted costumes dancing in the dark, a magician and his friends pulling off a delightful set of feats; such a wide array of eye-popping acts could only be at the Eid al-Fitr Festival — the annual Eid fixture at Katara, which clearly draws the biggest crowds among all Eid events in the country.
Four days of multi-faceted entertainment on the evenings of Eid — from Wednesday to Saturday — meant a rollicking time for families, and even more so for kids. The event began at 7pm and three action-packed shows of 40 minutes each were interspersed with two Eidiyaa (giveaways for kids) programmes in between. The activities on each of the night ended with a brilliant fireworks show as usual.
Sharif Hashisho, Managing Director of Qvision, the event management and creative multimedia production company which organises the Eid al-Fitr stage-shows and fireworks show at Katara, told Community that this year’s might be the best audience turnout and response thus far. “Usually, on the first day of Eid, a big crowd doesn’t turn up. This time though, we had a full house.”
In the four days of festivities, around 26,000 people attended the programme. “We had arranged for 5,000 seats and they were all full. There were another 1,500 seats on the upper sections and they were taken too, which is amazing,” Hashisho said.
Usually, Qvision plans ahead of time by building some sort of concept and then devising every single act to fit that concept. This year, their concept was A Child’s Dream. “So we wanted to delve into a child’s fantasies and dreams and invite artistes to come to Doha to realise those fascinating dreams, and celebrate Eid. The selection of the artistes was based on what would be very attractive and new to the country. Since Qatar has been hosting events for a long time, we wanted to make it even more special by creating certain uniqueness in the acts by selecting talents who are truly gifted and haven’t been to Qatar before,” Hashisho explained.
From planning the show script about a month and a half ago to recording and editing the material while incorporating the music brought in by the artistes, synchronising the nuances of the show has been an arduous process. “We have a great team that makes it happen,” Hashisho said, “As for the artistes, most of them are from Europe; France, Spain, Slovakia and the UK. We went to great lengths to ensure that we brought down the best of the best. A lot of these artistes have been part of talents shows of their countries such as France’s Got Talent and Spain’s Got Talent, thereby having surprised and thrilled people of their own countries already.”
Having been in the business for 24 years and counting, Qvision is one of the oldest event management companies in Qatar, Hashisho points out, while adding that setting up shows for Eid are very exciting for him and his team. “It’s the crowd, the throng of people that make Eid programmes so special,” he said, “We produce a lot of events for the private sector and the corporates. But when you organise a public event, the feel is always different. That’s because people react to the shows much better and are more animated in their response than, say, the VIPs at corporate events, who are all dressed-up and measured in their response.”
While the acrobatics and high-energy dance and magic feats sent the audience into frenzy, it’s the fireworks that always take the night up a notch or two, feels Hashisho. “Honestly, everywhere you go, every country, every city, everybody reacts to the fireworks as the best thing in any show,” he says, smiling, “So if you put out the most brilliant stage show ever and at the end of it, you arrange a fireworks display, people will react to the latter immediately and overwhelmingly. It’s terrific.”
As a cascade of sparkling colours and glittering glow filled up the sky by the Katara beach as if to crown a festive weekend, the celebratory sounds of firecrackers bursting and wailing into the night for around 15 minutes brought smiles and exhilaration, as it always does, in the eyes of the thousands that had gathered at the venue on each of the Eid nights.
“A lot of the fireworks that we use are imported from Spain and China because these are special shell fireworks. On each of the four days of Eid celebrations, 1,800 shells were ignited,” Hashisho said, “We have our pyrotechnical specialist to take care of the details. Everything is co-ordinated. From a digital wire assistant to an assistant who fills us in on the risk assessment on the explosives before they are ignited, we have all our checks in place.”
Not only does Qvision change its fireworks arrangements from time to time, it also goes the extra mile to synchronise the firecracker explosions to the beats of the music blaring out of the PA. “Be it the stage shows or the fireworks, when you see smiles on the faces of children and happy families, you feel that you have succeeded in what you had set out to achieve,” said Hashisho.
After the night draws to a close, Hashisho and his team sit down with officials from Katara and others to discuss the highlights and shortcomings of the show. This is done so as to find ways to improve things and do better. “During last year’s Eid festivities, for instance, we didn’t have much seating for the audience; a lot of them were sitting on the floor,” Hashisho said, “This time, by arranging 5,000 seats, we made sure that people are more comfortable and could enjoy the show for hours on end. And next Eid, I’m certain we will do even better.”
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