25th Arabian Gulf Cup Opening Ceremony

Pico Bahrain delivers an epic show at Basra International Stadium on historic night for Iraq.

In a proud moment for the host country, Iraq announced its return to the global stage with an emotionally charged Opening Ceremony for the 25th Arabian Gulf Cup.  

The Iraqi Football Federation entrusted Pico Bahrain with delivering an event that would live up to the occasion. With the event set to take place on 6 January and a short turnaround time of just two months to plan and execute the show, there was no time to waste. 

“We immediately set about the task of choosing a team and the technical suppliers who could deliver this momentous event,” recalled Khalid Juman, Pico Bahrain Chairman. “As well as it being short notice, the fact that the work was taking place through the festive period added an extra challenge,” he added. 

Pico appointed Andree Verleger as Show Director, who Juman described as someone who “knew the challenges before they happened” and “had a plan for everything”. 

Showtech Productions Bahrain provided content creation, D-Wok produced video content, and the firework show was supplied by Flash Art Middle East. “This was one of the toughest stadium jobs we have done so far, as the country was literally rebuilding itself around us from the ground up,” said Jakub Michalik, Managing Partner of Flash Art Middle East. “Seeing the hosts eventually winning the tournament certainly put an extra layer of satisfaction on the successful delivery of the opening and closing shows.” 

The content of the show was a swift journey into the history of the host country. “We took the spectators on a magical journey through Iraq’s history – a country that has one of the longest lists of ‘firsts’, from the first letter to the first wheel,” Juman explained. “The hardest part was choosing which ones to focus on.” As well as 28 minutes of motion graphics, VFX, CGI and 3D mapping projected onto the pitch, a major technical challenge was the addition of augmented reality for the live television audience – “a technique that was being used in an outdoor public event in the Middle East for the first time,” said Juman. “That was the biggest challenge.” 

With 200 professionals and 24 nationalities making up the workforce, the project was “a once-in-a-lifetime undertaking for all involved”. 

Juman concluded: “This project was a miracle in every aspect – from how it was conceptualised to how we produced it, until the day it happened. It was a huge challenge, but the people who joined us were the best of the best.”

Photos: Pico Bahrain