November 26, 2022
‘It’s our time to shine’: Qataris on hosting the World Cup

Doha, Qatar – When Qatar was introduced because the host of the 2022 World Cup 12 years in the past, Aisha al-Ali and her husband had lately married and have been beginning to construct their new home in Rawdat al-Hamama, a village neighbouring Lusail, Qatar’s second-largest metropolis.

Her husband had some doubts, saying the placement was too distant, however she assured him that with the approaching event, “I’m positive Qatar will change.”

She was proper. In just a little greater than a decade, roads, highways and bridges have been constructed, simply connecting the whole nation.

Since being awarded internet hosting rights in 2010, Qatar has spent greater than $200bn on growing and bettering infrastructure, together with constructing seven new soccer stadiums.

“We solely had 12 years to construct the infrastructure, construct these highways, make sure that [Qatar] has public transportation and roads for straightforward entry for all of the stadiums,” says al-Ali, a mom of three in her 40s.

“Getting from my new home to my in-laws or dad and mom, again then it might take me half an hour, now it takes me quarter-hour,” she says, referring to the highways and roads constructed over time.

“We’re so pleased with internet hosting the World Cup and the achievements that Qatar made,” says al-Ali, including that the occasion itself is a “second” she has been ready for since 2010.

Because it’s the primary time for an Arab, Muslim nation within the Center East to host “a grand occasion such because the World Cup … it’s our time to shine,” al-Ali mentioned.

“It’s our time to indicate the world that we’re part of you, we’re pretty much as good as you to host it. Sports activities unites all nations collectively.

“It’s not solely Qatar that’s internet hosting the World Cup, it’s the entire area that’s internet hosting it.”

‘An occasion for the world to take pleasure in’

Sheikh Suhaim al-Thani, 31, a supervisor at Qatar Free Zones Authority, which helps international companies desirous to work within the nation, advised Al Jazeera the sporting occasion isn’t just a Qatari accomplishment however one “for all Arabs, Muslims, and anybody who genuinely enjoys soccer”.

“Qatar is the smallest nation to ever be capable of accommodate the wants of such a event,” a visibly proud al-Thani mentioned.

Your entire nation contains simply 11,586 sq. kilometres (4,473 sq. miles), making it smaller than the Australian metropolis of Sydney. It’s only a 200km (124 mile) drive to succeed in the northernmost level in Qatar from the very south of the peninsula.

Al-Thani can be watching eight matches within the stadiums however has deliberate enjoyable evenings together with his pals for different video games at his majlis, a conventional room in Qatari houses the place pals, household and neighborhood members collect to socialize.

‘Qatar is the smallest nation to ever be capable of accommodate the wants of such a event,’ mentioned Sheikh Suhaim al-Thani [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

The aroma of Arabic incense popularly often known as bakhoor fills the air at his majlis, an prolonged a part of his house on the outskirts of the Qatari capital, Doha.

Al-Thani believes that the occasion can present Western sceptics how an Arab, Muslim and Center Jap nation can efficiently pull off such an enormous occasion.

He mentioned he feels the overarching narrative within the Western media about Qatar internet hosting the Cup has been unfavorable and lopsided.

“These [media] accounts don’t describe how a lot Qatar has reworked through the years,” he mentioned.

“Qatar has reworked past recognition prior to now few years, we’re greener, there’s a lot innovation, digital transformation. All of it has come collectively simply in time for the World Cup. That is celebration time,” he mentioned.

Shifts in society

For Maha Kafoud, 21, a scholar who has been finding out psychology in Melbourne, Australia, it isn’t simply the nation’s infrastructure that she has seen change noticeably through the years.

Since she final returned to Qatar for a go to in January 2020, she has began noticing shifts inside Qatari society.

“Earlier than, if a Qatari girl wasn’t sporting an abaya, everybody would freak out, have a look at her and decide her. However since I’ve been again, I’ve been sporting hoodies and going round Doha to all the brand new venues and stuff, and actually nobody cares,” Kafoud mentioned.

“I’ve been seeing [Qatari] women and men collectively and nobody bats an eye fixed after they see that, both,” she mentioned, including that with so many individuals from around the globe arriving in Qatar, the change is “an anticipated factor”.

Since returning earlier this month to observe the World Cup, Kafoud mentioned the nation feels “much more progressive and welcoming … all of this whereas nonetheless holding onto our tradition and traditions”.

Showcasing ‘our tradition’

Kafoud attended Sunday’s opening ceremony together with her father, an avid soccer fan who performed the game for 20 years when he began his personal native workforce in Qatar known as Al-Matar Al-Qadeem.

“That was a historic occasion that I’ll bear in mind for the remainder of my life,” Kafoud mentioned.

“We actually confirmed our tradition to the whole world … Understanding that hundreds of thousands of individuals noticed the way in which we dance, heard our songs, heard the Quran being performed; it was simply such a phenomenal factor.”

Sword dancers at the opening ceremony
Sword dancers are seen on the opening ceremony at Al Bayt Stadium in Doha, Qatar [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman narrated the opening section, telling viewers, “All of us collect right here in a single huge tribe.”

Presenting alongside Freeman was Ghanim al-Muftah, a 20-year-old Qatari man who was born with a uncommon situation that impairs the event of the decrease backbone. He recited a verse from the holy Quran calling for international unity.

“O humanity! Certainly, we created you from a male and a feminine, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you could be get to know each other,” he recited.

For the opening match the place Qatar performed Ecuador, round 60,000 followers have been packed into the Al Bayt Stadium within the metropolis of Al-Khor, whose exterior was designed to resemble a conventional Bedouin tent.

Fireworks, singing and dancing marked the opening ceremony, with performances mixing themes of Qatari custom with different cultures.

“It was such a second of delight for me and I believe to all Qataris as properly, even foreigners … we have been all left in tears,” Kafoud mentioned.

“I don’t suppose that’s ever been achieved earlier than, the place we [Qataris] have been capable of present part of our Arab and Muslim heritage to the whole world.”

[Al Jazeera]
About 60,000 followers packed into Al Bayt Stadium, whose exterior was designed to resemble a conventional Bedouin tent [Katya Bohdan/Al Jazeera]

Hopes for extra change

Even after the World Cup is over, Kafoud mentioned she is “wanting ahead to seeing the change” that she hopes will observe.

“I’m hoping that these 28 days will affect [Qatari] society to grow to be extra open minded and extra welcoming of foreigners usually. Though there are plenty of foreigners right here – there are extra foreigners than Qataris – however there’s a divide, a separation, and I’m hoping that after the World Cup, will probably be extra united.”

The al-Ali household and their three youngsters are excited to see the soccer video games in individual, and have purchased tickets to 6 totally different video games at numerous stadiums to get “the total expertise”.

Their home, which they as soon as nervous was too remoted, is now close to one of many stadiums internet hosting the event in Lusail together with matches with Portugal and Argentina, groups the household can be cheering for from the stands.

“We’re a fan of [Argentina’s Lionel] Messi and [Portugal’s Cristiano] Ronaldo and I perceive it’s their final World Cup … so it’s good to come back and see,” al-Ali mentioned.

“I’ve been to the Arab Cup, and I’ve been to the Asia Cup, so it’s so thrilling to now attend a World Cup … Qatar introduced the World Cup to us so now we have to take benefit, attend it and expertise it.”

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