From a distance, Doha’s impressive city centre skyline is like a mini-Manhattan. Up close, however, it has a distinctive Arabic flavour, especially with the growing FIFA 2022 World Cup branding.

A visual football feast awaits.

The prolific presence of Arabic writing, calligraphy, decorative motifs, geometric shapes, rich Middle Eastern colours and design references to the local Middle Eastern culture means the 2022 Football World Cup is going to look – and feel – unlike any other.

It’s the first time the world’s second biggest sporting spectacle after the Olympics, will be hosted in the Middle East.

And, that’s a good thing, isn’’t it?

It’s surely a positive for the “world’s most beautiful game” and enriching for everyone to be exposed to other cultures.

The seven-kilometre Al Corniche Road, which wraps around the coast in Doha, is awash with reminders of the forthcoming football festival. It includes a pier hosting the FIFA 2022 World Cup logo, and the flags of the 32 competing nations.

Over the past seven months since arriving in Doha, I have witnessed massive progress in terms of infrastructure projects. Roads, bridges, accommodation facilities and fan parks have either been completed or are nearing completion.

Additionally, there’s the FIFA 2022 branding collateral.

The branding palette comes in rich colours – magenta, maroon, purple and turquoise blue, supported by secondary yellow and orange hues, reflective of Qatar’s desert landscape.

As with everything in this oil and gas-rich country, the branding is first-world, often opulent and jaw-dropping, and it comes with an Arabic look and feel.

International visitors arriving at Hamad International Airport are greeted with large wall hangings welcoming them to the 20 November to 18 December football tournament.

You be the judge as you scroll through the branding visuals below.

And, allow me to introduce you to the various role players of this football feast in Doha, Qatar. Not only is the global showpiece a first for this part of the world, but it will be the first time the event is hosted by one city. The latter means you can attend two games in different stadiums on one day.

Since Doha moves to a different rhythm, many of those games will take place at night.

Expect amazing!

(By the way, expect amazing is the motto for the event).  

New kit for skyscrapers

Weekly, we are welcomed by new branding as we navigate the streets through city’s skyscrapers in West Bay, where we originally also lived in a high-rise.

Mammoth visuals of global footballing icons now drape 30-storey buildings. This is in addition to the flags, advertising boards and other new branded structures and items that are added daily to the city’s streets.

Soccer icons now adorn an increasing number of high-rise buildings, like this Ghanaian player. As an aside, the construction at the foot of the Ministry of Culture building is a common site, as the country rushes to complete infrastructure ahead of the World Cup
Several buildings in West Bay, in Downtown Doha, have been kitted out for in preparation for the global football festival .
Illuminated soccer balls of the qualifying nations line one of the main thoroughfares in Doha.

Metro gets a make-over

The city’s underground network, the Metro, has also had a makeover, and is proudly festooned with the FIFA 2022 branding.

The Al Qassar Metro station is one of dozen of stations on the green, red and gold lines that has been given a make-over.
Another shot of the branding in the underground that is linked to many of the eight stadiums hosting the games.

Magenta, burgundy and turquoise proliferate in terms of colours. There are secondary colours reflective of the country’s natural assets – the desert yellows and sunrise and sunset oranges.     

Meet La’eeb, the mascot

La’eeb is a whimsical, cheeky character, who flits through the mascot-verse, as the official mascot for the FIFA 2022 World Cup.

Forgive me, but whenever I see La’eeb, the FIFA 2022 World Cup mascot, I am reminded of Dorey, the fish, in Finding Nemo.

I mean, those caught-in-the-headlight eyes, within his white ghost-like flying gown, reflect a childlike innocence. Like Dorey.

Well, that’s my take.

According to Laeeb’s creators, that’s fine. You see, La’eeb, which means super-skilled player in Arabic, belongs to a parallel mascot-verse. This is line with the futuristic meta-verse, a digital space where we can move virtually in a three-dimensional world as avatars! (I know, it’s hard to take it all in!)

This world is indescribable. Therefore, everyone is invited to interpret what this world is like and hence, the verdict is out on the impish little La’eeb. You can see him (or is it her), as you like.

Additionally, La’eeb encourages everyone to believe in themselves as “Now is All”.

Now is all

When the sun goes down, alternative football installations come to life.

Now here’s another perplexing choice – the “Now is All” slogan.

According to, it stands for “when you live your dream, realise your destiny – and own the moment”.

I suppose, to be fair, it’s not too far removed from our own South African World Cup Ke Nako slogan, which is Sesotho for “it is time”.

Both slogans focus on time in an aspirational and inspiring way. Let’s face it, for many, coming to the Middle East for the global soccer showpiece, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime dream come true.

Large advertising banners straddle the four-lane highways that criss-cross the city. Note the Arabic writing on the lighting structures. The poles are also illuminated at night, and change colours. It is a beautiful sight.

World Cup logo or emblem

The official logo of the FIFA World Cup to be hosted in Qatar. The figure of eight shape is representative of the eight stadiums in and just outside of Doha where the games will be played during the month-long tournament.

The shawl in a figure of eight logo is inspired by local and regional Arab culture and landscapes. The white and burgundy colour choice is reflective of the Qatari flag and the swooping curves represent the desert dunes.

The decorative elements are like those embroidered on Qatari winter shawls. It includes a football as the centrepiece and letters in Arabic as a reference to its rich calligraphic tradition.

Official poster

The official poster of the event was designed to showcase the passion for football as a game that brings families and people together. This picture depicts the “gutra” and the “egal” (traditional headwear) being waved in the air in a celebratory manner.

For the first time in the history of the FIFA World Cup, a series of official posters had been developed for the tournament. The Qataris are big on art and culture.

The main official poster for the FIFA 2022 World Cup depicts traditional Arabic headwear being thrown into the air. This is something that local fans do when their team scores a goal or wins a game. It was designed by Bouthanya Al Muftah, a female artist from Qatar.

To be fair, football isn’t this nation’s only sporting passion.

There’s camel racing, falconry and padel – and the more recognisable sports like athletics, MotoGP, tennis and golf.

Qatar is investing in sport, as it recognises the value that it adds socially, culturally and economically. It hosts dozens of Doha puts sport in the fast lane“>international sporting events.


More on merchandise in another post. Suffice to say, you can purchase everything from pens to diamond pendants in the official brand.

Arabic headgear for football feast

In South Africa it was the vuvuzela, those plastic trumpets that blasted out across our stadiums. In Qatar, there will be an uptake of all things Arabic. My prediction is that Arabic headgear will take centre stage in finding favour with fans from around the world.

These headscarves, also known as shemagh or kaffiyeh, are worn with the traditional thobe (white robe) or even Western attire, like the two-piece suit. The headgear comes in a range of materials – linen, wool, cotton and silk – and is plain or patterned. Like Scottish kilts, every style indicates where the individual is from.

In Qatar, the men wear an all-white shemagh, while their neighbours in Saudi Arabia, for example, have red and white chequered headscarves.

Come November visitors are likely to embrace Arabic headgear to celebrate with their hosts. Methinks, the city’s favourite traditional market, Souq Waqif, is going to be doing good business in scarves!

Fans who flew into Qatar for the final qualifying games were seen wearing local headscarves,

With just two months to go to the opening ceremony, I suspect there’s much more football paraphernalia to come.

Expect amazing.

I know I am.

Pin It on Pinterest

Sharing is caring!

Share this post with your friends!