25th Arabian Gulf Cup Opening and Closing Ceremonies

In January 2023, the Arabian Gulf Cup tournament returned to Iraq after an absence of over four decades. Iraq welcomed the teams of the Arabian Gulf for the 25th edition of the prestigious tournament. Pico was appointed by the Iraq Football Association to activate the event’s opening and closing ceremonies in Basra, helping to bring the city, the country and its competitive spirit back to the global stage.



After the ups and downs of Iraq’s last few decades, the Gulf Cup offered a chance to bring optimism to its people while showing the country in a favourable light internationally. The project team achieved this by elevating the ceremony experience by using 3D projection and augmented reality (AR) for a stunning expression of Iraq’s rich culture, the unity generated by football, and brotherhood among the peoples of the Gulf.


The Pico team provided a comprehensive range of integrated services, including event design and scenic build, event management and operation, multimedia show production including live performances and AR for broadcast, fireworks, venue branding and broadcasting services. 

Over 65,000 people were present at the stadium to witness the opening ceremony’s visual feast. Most impressive was the use of stunning 3D projections on the full football pitch, laser and light effects and fireworks that illuminated the entire stadium. Viewers around the world watched the live broadcast from their homes, with AR elements adding an engaging immediacy to the experience.

For over half an hour, the performance swept through Iraq’s historic contributions to the world, with advanced tech and sophisticated art design bringing a dazzling edge to highlights such as the invention of the world’s first written language and the wheel, and Baghdad’s legacy as the epicentre of knowledge and learning during the Islamic golden age. Live performances by local artists were another crowd-pleasing element of the show.

  • Captured an estimated audience of over 65,000 at the stadium for both the opening ceremony and the closing ceremony, in addition to a massive TV audience 
  • Extensive opening ceremony coverage on international and regional TV, press
  • Generated tremendous buzz on social media with highly positive feedback on the show
  • Won praise and appreciation from the prime minister of Iraq


“This event brought tears of pride to the eyes of 45 million Iraqis” –Mohammed Shia Al Sudani, Iraqi Prime Minister