Say Hello to Orry


Economic News

22 Jul 2010
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With the clock ticking down to the start of the 15th Asian Games, Doha is being gradually transformed - and in the process, the city is becoming a more colourful place.

The Doha Asian Games Organising Committee (DAGOC) has recently been installing pictures of its games' mascot, "Orry" - a sporting incarnation of Qatar's national animal the oryx - on wraps around some of its landmark tall buildings.

The committee has formed a special section, the "Look of the Games" team, which has been tasked with branding and promoting this year's Asian Games.

Seven buildings have been singled out for the wraps and work has already finished on the Qatar National Olympic Committee (QNOC) building, Rydges Hotel and the Ministry of Agriculture, where Orry welcomes passengers arriving from Doha International Airport.

Several more buildings are expected to be added to the list at a later date and Orry also features on a number of water towers, including ones at al-Khulaifat and al-Rumaila. On top of this, 30 life-size models of Orry have been distributed around the city, complementing the enormous model of Orry erected on the corniche with a digital display counting down to December this year, when the games will begin.

DAGOC was formed in 2001, soon after Qatar won the bid to host the games and its chief, Abdulla Khaled al-Qahtani, is in no doubt that for the organising committee will meet the December deadline.

"We will be ready," he recently told OBG. "No one can claim we are ready as of now, but our permanent venues are 98% ready and we are beginning work on our temporary venues... We are planning to be 100% ready one month before the games."

However, others have not been quite so certain. While the mood is generally optimistic, Qatar has been cautioned about its readiness by the Olympic Council of Asia - although, as past hosts of the games will testify, that in itself is not unusual.

The challenge for Qatar in its preparations is all the greater as the country did not originally have the facilities in place to support its application. Instead, having won the bid, Qatar embarked on a mammoth building project, employing 125 different contracting companies and spending over $400m. The total investment in the games, of which the Look of the Games team's building wraps and the statues of Orry are only a small percentage, is expected to be close to $2.8bn.

In its determination to avoid populating the city with white elephants, every building is to serve a community function after the event, which is good news for the local sports federations.

The construction work is also hoped to help those desperate to find affordable accommodation in Doha. Rents are currently sky-high, and hotel rooms are at a premium. As part of its preparation for the games, DAGOC is supporting the building of 14 residential towers in the West Bay area. Although this accommodation is unlikely to be at the low end of the income spectrum, it is hoped that as more accommodation becomes available, the cost of renting the city's older properties will be pushed back.

With 20,000 people expected to come to Doha for the games in December, accommodation is not the only problem that has to be addressed. The influx of all these people through Doha's airport may also prove problematic. A second airport is currently under construction, but work will not be finished until after the games have been staged, meaning the 20,000 visitors will have to enter Qatar through the already busy existing airport. DAGOC has however decided that a special terminal should be constructed to deal with the overspill and work on the temporary terminal began in mid-April.

Despite the concerns, Orry is slowly brightening up the city though - and he is not the only visible manifestation of the games within the community. DAGOC has also launched a search for 10,000 volunteers who will participate in the opening and closing ceremonies, and the campaign has apparently received a fantastic response. So much so, in fact, that DAGOC sees the promotion of a culture of volunteering as one of its post-games legacies - alongside the colourful character of Orry who, some hope, may even lead Qatar in a bid to host the Olympics in 2016.

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