Destination Experiences / Icons

DOHA / 2022

QATAR | Whale Shark – The Lusail Icon

Produced by Balich Wonder Studio

The Whale Shark, an icon that lights up the sky in Doha

Al Nehem is a suspended 30-meter-long icon depicting a Whale Shark, conceived by Marco Balich as a tribute to Qatar’s endangered marine species and as a symbol of the country’s interest in conserving and protecting its natural environment.

The Whale Shark has quickly become the symbol of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and a social media sensation. Suspended 20 meters above Lusail Plaza, the icon soars among Lusail’s four towers designed by Norman Foster’s architectural firm Foster + Partners.

Al Nehem is built from an internal steel skeleton surrounded by a weave of stainless-steel ribbons reinforced by light dots, and polycarbonate fills. Each night, a special activation made the Whale Shark truly come alive, transforming it from a landmark to a performance machine seen by over 70,000 spectators during the FIFA World Cup 2022.

From a creative idea and sketch of Marco Balich, the Project Director, Julian Hill, collaborated with Rasti Bartek, Structural Engineer, Mathias Gmachl, Skin Designer and Fabrication, Dave Williams, Technical Director and Samuel Orme, Creative Supervisor to conceive the project.

Abdullah Al Attiyah, CEO of Qatari Diar said: “The Whale Shark is one of Qatar’s most iconic creatures, and with visitors from all over the world expected to visit Lusail during the tournament, our hope is that the sculpture will help raise the profile of this endangered species so collectively we advocate to ensure the survival of these majestic creatures in Qatar”.