Stars head for Qatar and epic sports dome launch

More than 120 Middle East and international journalists are being flown to Qatar for the opening of the world’s largest indoor sports dome.

More than 120 Middle East and international journalists are being flown to Qatar for the opening of the world's largest indoor sports dome.

Aspire, the academy for sports excellence based in Doha, is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to host the three-day event between 17 and 19 November. Organisers claim it will be one of the region's most significant and memorable launches.

The academy provides world-class sporting and academic tuition for children in the hope that they will become sporting stars.

Neil Duncanson, communications manager at Aspire, said: "We are using the press as the main feed of information as we have strong relationships with both local and international media. In addition to that we have got a volume of advertising taking place in print locally in Qatar as well as outdoor signage."

Aspire has already entered into advertising agreements with broadcasters such as CNN International, Aljazeera and EuroSport, and Duncanson said the promotional activities for Aspire will run up until next year's World Cup finals in Germany.

London-based events company The Bank, together with World of Events in Dubai, are organising the opening ceremony, with Wallis Marketing Consultants handling the public relations and press logistics. Ad agency Relay, part of the Leo Burnett group of companies, is managing the advertising and Starcom is looking after the media buying for Aspire.

Brazilian footballing legend Pele and Argentina's Diego Maradona will take centre stage during the proceedings, the first time both men have shared a stage outside of South America, and their first joint visit to the Middle East.

The stars will take part in a debate called 'Fair losers -- ugly winners' which will be broadcast live on Aljazeera as well as being fed to other international broadcasters.

Other major names to appear at the three-day event include International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge, 400m Olympic hurdles champion Ed Moses, Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci and Moroccan long distance runner Hicham El Guerrouj. The Cirque du Soleil and the Shaolin Monks will entertain guests.

The three-day spectacular, which also includes a conference on sports science and a football tournament featuring Europe's best youth teams, has been a year in the planning and marks the official opening of the Aspire Dome, which will also be used as a venue for the 2006 Asian Games being held in the city.

"We are looking to engage the community in Qatar and the wider Middle East, to let them know Qatar is doing something special," said Duncanson. "We are trying to promote a greater sports culture in the country. Aspire already has a growing reputation because it is pulling together academic and sporting skills under one roof."

At 290,000 square metres, the development includes a a 200m athletics track and an Olympic-size swimming pool.

Tim Addington, Campaign Middle East recommends

Campaign Middle East

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