An Eventful Career

Joe Kharrat, founder of IEC, introduces his company and explains how his sports career helped him achieve success in his corporate and music careers.

Please tell us about IEC – what does the company do and how long has it been running?
We are a full-service global marketing and production agency based originally in Qatar, UAE and Beirut. Our staff are based between Doha and Beirut. We deliver projects across all aspects of the events industry such as festivals and concerts, including liaising with artists and entertainers. And we have our own equipment from audio and visuals to lighting. We also work with many corporates within the hotel and retail industries supporting events, exhibitions and interiors services. We have been in the industry for more than 10 years already.

What prompted you to go into this line of business and how, among stiff competition, have you managed to achieve success?
At the age of 15, I was competing in international sports events and travelling from one country to another to attend competitions as an athlete representing Lebanon. I was always fascinated with the stadiums and venues we competed in and the level of organisation at these events. I was interested in the details like who were the sponsors, where did they come from, why did they sponsor an event and how much were they paying to have their brands represented? These questions were always in my mind and I wanted answers. Finally, this is what drove me to study business administration at the American University of Beirut and led me to work in events and marketing.
I started my career as a freelancer in sports events such as the Beirut International Marathon and got the opportunity to work in Qatar in 2007 with IFP Qatar at exhibitions and conferences, that gave me experience in the corporate aspects of the events industry. Afterwards, I was recruited by the Qatar Olympic Committee in 2009 and worked in more than 25 World Championships and international tournaments.
After gaining the agency and client-side experience, I studied the Qatari market well and had the vision to open my own company. I saw an opportunity within the production aspect of events. I’ve had the chance to work on many prestigious projects such as the opening ceremony of the FIFA Arab Cup.
In the events industry, you always have to deliver, you have no choice. But you consider you’ve succeeded when you are on point and provide a quality finish for your customers. So far, yes, we have been able to achieve many successful events and that’s why we are here today.

You have been involved with many major events, what are some of the biggest ones and which are you most proud of?
As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest events I have worked on was the opening ceremony of the FIFA Arab Cup in 2021 that was considered as a test event for the World Cup in 2022 The 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championship is one of my most favourite events, since it was the first international event I ever worked on.

What are some of the greatest challenges you face in putting together your part of a major event?
I always face a challenge in finding the right resources at the right time since Qatar is quite of a small market and we always must look outside the country to find these resources.

Outside of work, you’re a keen motorcyclist and runner and involved in music. What is your favourite way to spend your spare time?
Each hobby gives you a different type of feeling and that’s why I like to spend my spare time in doing different pursuits. On the bike, there is a definite adrenaline rush; running and exercising brings your stress levels down after a long day at work in front of your computer and running from one meeting to another. Nowadays, music is taking more time in my life since I’m DJing on an international level. ✤