FIFA World Cup’s Official Host Nation Logistics Provider held a hybrid forum paneled by Industry Experts and attended virtually by hundreds world-wide, discussing logistics and regional transformation.
GWC, the Official Host Nation Logistics Provider of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM, hosted a virtual forum on Tuesday 16 November 2021, with Industry experts who shared their insights on the scale of logistics operation that takes place behind-the-scenes during mega sporting events, and showcasing highlights on the preparations for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM which will create new benchmarks not only for region, but for the entire world.
Jose Dhooma, Head of Events Logistics at FIFA delivered the keynote speech on ‘Logistics is everywhere’. He said, “There has never been a more apt time to talk about logistics as it is in the forefront. In one year’s time it will be the start of FIFA World CupTM in Qatar, the eyes of the world will be here watching us which is the biggest single sporting event in the world, with viewing audience of 3.6 billion persons and 1.2 million spectators, as the tournament will be held for the first-time history in the Muslim and Arab world.”
Jose continued to detail aspects rarely thought of by viewers, like the thousands of players’ bags that are transported, the footballs required onsite and even the country differences when it comes to storing Olympic Medals and how every minor movement requires planning and logistics.
He finished by discussing the positive local transformation that takes place as a result of hosting mega events, like the improved infrastructure that he saw in his hometown as a result of the Olympics. Additionally, noting that mega events demonstrate to the world, the capability and competency of a country, which in turn brings investment.
After the keynote address, Dhooma took part alongside Kirsten de Bruijn, Senior Vice President Cargo Sales and Network Planning at Qatar Airways; Mark Novack, HC Event Logistics Assistant-Director at the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy; and Matthew Phelps, General Manager at GWC, to discuss as a panel the challenges and successes that they faced as industry leaders, producing mega events.
Mark Novack spoke to the legislation behind events, “We have been working with the local authorities on how we can simplify procedures, partnering closely with FIFA, and a number of other stakeholders to identify what they need, and identify what the current law allows, and where those gaps are.”
The result of this hard work is a bespoke system in place that is a legacy system, intended to be used for years to come, beyond the World Cup, which allows for a simplified and integrated customs declaration.
Speaking to the challenges, Matthew Phelps, explained, “A main challenge is congestion. We have spoken about the 1.2 million people coming to Qatar. We talked about all of the physical pieces of technology coming in. But GWC is prepared, we’ve been working on events since 2010 so we’ve had this gradual build up to the upcoming crescendo. The immense challenge here is not just getting spectators in place for a short period of time, but a very busy period of time where people will experience Qatar and enjoy their time and so working with the authorities to do that is very important to us. It’s an interesting logistics challenge.”
Successes were shared by Kirsten de Bruijn who explained, “after shut down we adapted our processes rapidly in order to continue to fly, and I think that’s what we’ve shown throughout the last two years is that we never stopped. We always say that Qatar Airways didn’t know any borders because we continued to fly and even now we are traveling to 140 destinations. So the connectivity of our network remained the strength throughout all the challenges that we had.”
The panel further went on to discuss misconceptions of the region and detailed the benefits of this region hailing it as a great place to live and work and how Qatar in particular is a great place to host, with hospitality in their DNA.
The conversation additionally shed a spotlight on digitalization, block chain, improved vendor delivery portals and the ever-increasing role in the movement of goods.
The second panel included Laila Al Jefairi, Vice President of Business Development at Qatar Financial Centre; Bader Al-Madhadi, Investment Promotion Lead at Qatar Free Zone Authority; Lauri Becquart, Head of Retail & Private Holdings at Google Cloud; and Hamdan Merchant, Senior Director – Innovation, IT & BPI at GWC who focused their conversation around transformation and what is making the region ever attractive for investments.
Bader Al-Madhadi said, “To host such big events, it shows the world the potential and the infrastructure that we have. For such big events to succeed we have the right institutions in place to support. From our side, we try to be part of this success.”
Hamdan Merchant further elaborated on the technological infrastructure in Qatar. “We are always moving toward these advances, but because of this mega event coming in, we moved and are moving a lot faster than what was expected. Now is a great time to invest in technology, invest in real-estate, and invest in processes. This is a perfect time to get all the boxes checked, and help the country move forward.”
Looking at the role of technology in the region, Laurie Becquart explained, “What we want to do with technology is to build tools… building on AI, machine learning and to try and help with those challenges. And one of the core places where we actually try to help and solve those challenges is automation. In order to become automated, you need a data strategy. And this is where Google and Google Cloud are helping that build up in the region.”
The panel furthermore discussed the role of small businesses and how ecommerce is requiring companies to prioritize data and data-based decisions.
The forum was rounded out with two workshops; the first delved into GWC’s large-scale execution of Logistics for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM, led by Syed Maaz Chief Business Development Officer at GWC, in tandem with a second workshop addressing the importance of sustainability in Qatar’s infrastructure, led by Meshal Al Shamari, Director at Qatar Green Building Council.
The event was hosted and moderated by Al Jazeera English’s Senior Presenter Emily Angwin.
The full event can be watched on GWC’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gCQsRPAxmQ&ab_channel=GWCLogistics