Event Management: Khalid Al-Hamar
In a few weeks, hundreds of thousands of fans will flood the Qatari capital, Doha, to attend dozens of football matches held in multiple stadiums throughout the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™. Hosting an event of this size is a difficult undertaking; it requires the combined and coordinated efforts of thousands of employees and volunteers, allocated into teams with different tasks and responsibilities, operating with true beehive-like synergy, with the sole objective of providing the perfect audience experience for World Cup fans.
But who organizes all these efforts? And who guarantees the correct allocation of manpower and resources or the synergy between working teams? As a relatively new field, event management is the unknown soldier behind what has now become a global trend in organizing events, from the simplest to the grandest and most spectacular.
Event managers have constantly varying roles and responsibilities according to the type of event they organize; major sporting events are completely different from political conferences, for example, and art exhibitions have different requirements compared to musical concerts. What they all have in common is that they are projects with a specific timeframe and end date, a set budget, a location, an audience, and stakeholders (suppliers, sponsors, media, etc.). Dealing with these aspects is the event management team’s responsibility.
This makes event management a challenging and exciting role, with an abundance of last-minute changes and unexpected issues that an event manager must resolve. It is a high-intensity work environment, suitable for those who are quick on their feet, problem solvers, detail-oriented, and have leadership, teamwork, and communication skills.
An important example of the challenges faced in event management is the COVID-19 pandemic. The aftermath of the pandemic was catastrophic for almost all economic sectors, and event management was no exception. Although quarantines and restrictions were put in place, they did not hinder event management as events moved to online platforms. The digitalization of events is a remarkable example of the flexibility, adaptability, and creative thinking required in event management to deal with unexpected challenges and minimize losses.
Event management holds a promising future, especially in Qatar, where professionals in the field are in constant demand. In addition, events in Qatar are not limited to sports, as the country is rapidly becoming an international hub for commerce, culture, and arts. After hosting the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, Qatar has more of an impetus to host other major events in the future, whether cultural, economic, political, or other sporting events.
As mentioned before, this trend is not particular to Qatar. Countries are rushing to host as many and as large events as they can because of the great social and economic benefits these events accumulate. Event tourism is a booming sector, further developing other related industries like hospitality, accommodation, transport, and national infrastructure. It also brings in investments, provides job opportunities, and enhances the efficiency and expertise of the existing workforce. All in all, these events have had an immensely positive impact on host nations.
Volunteering at events is a great way to determine if this field of work suits your ambitions and skills.
Director of Events
Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy
Although I studied business administration at the University of Sussex and graduated in 2011, my passion for football started earlier than that. In my teenage years, I used to play football professionally for multiple local football clubs like Al Sadd, Al Shamal, and Umm Salal Sports Club. When Qatar won the bid to host the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, I was inspired, and I dreamed of representing my country’s national team in the tournament. Unfortunately, an injury to my leg prevented me from following through on this ambition. Still, I was adamant about participating in some other way to give something back to my country, which is why I shifted back to the sports industry.
My career started in Qatar Foundation’s human resources department, after which I moved on to work for the Qatar Stars League, where I handled players’ affairs. Both these experiences helped me boost my expertise in all aspects of major sports events organization, as I had participated in organizing many sporting events, from local league and Qatar Cup games to working as the Executive Director of Corporate Sports at the Local Organizing Committee for the Under 23 AFC 2016. Lastly, I was the Head of Ticketing at the Khalifa International Stadium’s opening match in 2017.
Also in 2017, I moved to Aspire Academy as the Director of Human Resources, where I had the opportunity to work on multiple big projects like the Champion Sports and Life vision, which entailed attracting and retaining professional players at the academy.
All the events I had participated in gave me the experience I needed to excel in event management in general and in a wide variety of different aspects within event management, which in turn empowered me to join the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy as Deputy Events Director, and then as Events Director. Of course, the tremendous guidance and support I received from colleagues and supervisors, as well as my late parents may they rest in peace, and my extended family and friends all played a great role in all that I have achieved.
My main responsibilities in this role are to take care of all minor and major events related to the World Cup, such as the FIFA Fan Festival™ in Al Bidda, with a capacity of 80,000 attendees; the fan zones in the Industrial Area and Al Khor, which include entertainment and activations for the fans and the community; as well as the Cornish activations that will take place during the World Cup. Also, my team and I work on all corporate and promotional events and campaigns to promote Qatar abroad. It is a huge pressure on me and the team, as it’s the single biggest event in the world. We focus on our role to deliver the best FIFA Fan Festival™, Cornish activations, and fan experiences during the World Cup. We will deliver the best version ever of the World Cup, as it’s the first in the Middle East. We are setting the standard.
To build a successful career in event management, you need to simply love doing it. You will only be able to keep going if you do. It’s one of the most demanding jobs as it involves too many details and uncertainty factors, and it can sometimes be a 24-hour job. That is why you need to enjoy what you are doing. I also advise young students to get involved in different types of events, such as sports, musical performances, and different exhibitions, to get a wider perception and understanding of all the needs and requirements of different kinds of events. They can do this by volunteering. And although some people think that after the World Cup, the demand for event management professionals in Qatar might decline, so choosing a career in this field might not be a wise decision, I wholeheartedly disagree with this idea. It is important to understand that event management is not only about sports events, and Qatar continually hosts major events, exhibitions, and international conferences. Therefore, all organizations now have event management professionals or contracted companies, as events won’t ever stop!