‘Whether you’re new or experienced, teamwork determines everything’
With only weeks to go until Qatar hosts the first FIFA World Cup™ in the Middle East and Arab world, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), in close collaboration with FIFA, is wrapping up preparations for the tournament and the legacy it will deliver.
In this new series, Making History, we are focusing on the work of Qatari employees who have played a key role in the SC’s journey.
Our first interview is with Maryam Hamad Al Muftah, Executive Director, ICT Event Operations. Maryam, from Al Wakrah, joined the SC in 2013 after studying computer engineering at Qatar University and graduating in 2007. She obtained a Master’s degree from HEC Paris before joining the SC from Qatar Investment Authority (QIA).
Why did you join the SC and why were you interested in working on this mega-project?
It was an amazing opportunity to leave my comfort zone. I like event management and I enjoy working with people from different cultures and backgrounds. So, joining the SC was a unique opportunity – and a World Cup in this region will only happen once for my generation. I felt there was no better way to use my skills and I knew the role would help me grow in so many ways.
When you were growing up, did you ever think you would work on a World Cup?
It never crossed my mind. I was a fresh graduate when Qatar won the bid and there was so much attention on the World Cup. Everyone in Qatar wanted to work on the project. I didn’t know if I would have the opportunity at first – but as time went on, I was more and more eager to join the team and help to ‘Deliver Amazing’.
When the role at the SC became available I was planning to take a break from my job at QIA – so the SC’s timing was perfect. Back then I became the Manager of Infrastructure in the IT Department and never imagined I would be here now, in the thick of tournament preparations.
What do you remember about the day Qatar won the bid to host the World Cup?
It was such a special day for everyone in the country. I think everyone has their own story about it. I was at the Four Seasons hotel for a family wedding. We were all watching the TV anxiously waiting for the announcement. Afterwards, we were all ecstatic.
How did you get interested in IT?
It’s always been a passion of mine. I like the fact the IT field is generally a few steps ahead of other industries. It is technological and always trying to innovate. As soon as I graduated, I knew I needed to follow this passion.
Tell us about your role at the SC and how you’re helping to deliver the tournament.
I currently manage the Information Communications Technology division and lead on all technological aspects of the tournament. When we first won the bid, Qatar announced it would deliver a smart World Cup, so technology became an important part of our infrastructure and crucial for planning a seamless tournament.
Tell us about your team spirit and collaboration.
One of my biggest accomplishments is the team dynamic. I am very proud of every one of them. My team is great – we’re like a family. We work together seamlessly with the goal of delivering a successful tournament.
This tournament requires solid expertise and a team that can deliver under pressure. We have overcome multiple challenges together and are excited to take on new ones. When the pandemic first hit, my team was ready to work through it and we came out of this successfully. I am honoured to say we are ready to deliver a smart World Cup.
Which project has been the most rewarding and why?
During the FIFA Arab Cup, we managed a range of projects, including international connectivity, the implementation of mobile/tetra/radio devices in stadiums, and the optical transport network that carries event IT network and broadcast network traffic. We worked closely with the Communications Regulatory Authority in order to meet FIFA obligations and delivered a number of projects in a short timeframe, including the command centre and press conference area. The work we put in allowed broadcasters to take the highest quality footage in the quickest possible time – which is one achievement we are truly proud of.
What services will the IT department manage during the World Cup?
We will build on the work we delivered during the FIFA Arab Cup. We will be managing networks and supporting radio and broadcast services. We will be specifically responsible for providing broadcast connectivity, which will help media to broadcast matches all around the world. We will also provide back-up solutions for broadcast connectivity, such as the satellite back-up. Our work makes me confident that fans here in Qatar and across the globe will experience the World Cup of a lifetime.
What are some challenges you encounter in your role and what advice would you give to the next generation of IT professionals?
Being a Qatari woman working in the sports sector can be challenging, however I have managed to overcome that. Another challenge is women working in the technology industry generally, as it tends to be male-dominated. However, I have found that nothing is difficult where there is teamwork. Whether you’re new or experienced, teamwork determines everything.
How do you think the World Cup will impact Qatar and the region?
I think this is just the beginning for Qatar. The attention we have had means we will be more open to investors, tourists and jobseekers. I think the country will continue to evolve and look to build a greater degree of sustainability for future generations.
What will you cherish most from this experience and how will you feel when the trophy is lifted at Lusail Stadium on 18 December?
I will cherish all the memories that I made here, and the deep bonds we created. We are truly a family at the SC. After the final, tears of joy, happiness and humbleness will flow. Witnessing what we made will definitely give me goosebumps.
What does the future hold for you beyond 2022? What are your ambitions?
I’m very keen to continue my work in ICT. It is a broad field and constantly evolving – and this is what motivates me for the future. I would like to continue working in a fast-paced field and remain at the forefront of technological advancements, while always seeking to acquire new skills.