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‘This is our time to shine’: on Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup Qatar World Cup 2022 News

Doha, Qatar – When Qatar was announced as the host of the 2022 World Cup 12 years ago, Aisha Al-Ali and her husband had recently married and lived in Rawdat Al-Hamma, a village neighboring Lusail, Qatar’s second largest city. were starting to build their new home. ,

Her husband had some doubts, saying the location was too remote, but assured her that with the coming tournament, “I am sure Qatar will change.”

She was right. In little more than a decade, roads, highways and bridges were built, allowing the entire country to be easily connected.

since being hosting rights granted In 2010, Qatar spent over $200 billion on infrastructure development and improvements, including building seven new football stadium,

“We only had 12 years to build infrastructure, build these highways, make sure [Qatar] There is public transport and roads for easy access to all the stadiums,” says Al-Ali, a mother of three in her 40s.

“It used to take me half an hour to go back to my in-laws or parents from my new home, now it takes me 15 minutes,” she says, referring to the highways and roads built over time.

“We are very proud of hosting the World Cup and of the achievements Qatar has made,” says Al-Ali.

As it is the first time for an Arab, Muslim country in the Middle East to host an event as grand as the World Cup… it is our time to shine,” Al-Ali said.

“It is our time to show the world that we are a part of you, we are as good as any to host you. Sport connects all countries together.

“It is not only Qatar that is hosting the World Cup, it is the whole region that is hosting it.”

‘An event for the world to enjoy’

Sheikh Suhaim Al-Thani, 31, a manager at the Qatar Free Zone Authority, which helps foreign businesses wanting to operate in the country, told Al Jazeera that the sporting event is not just a Qatari achievement, but “all Arabs, Muslims and anyone else”. who really enjoys football”.

“Qatar is by far the smallest country to meet the needs of such a tournament,” Al-Thani said.

The entire country covers just 11,586 square kilometers (4,473 sq mi), making it smaller than the Australian city of Sydney. It is only a 200 km (124 mi) drive from the very south of the peninsula to reach the northernmost point of Qatar.

Al-Thani will watch eight matches at the stadium but has plans for a fun evening with friends for other sports in his majlis, a traditional room in Qatari homes where friends, family and community members gather to socialize Huh.

Sheikh Suhaim Al-Thani
Sheikh Suhaim Al-Thani said, ‘Qatar is the smallest country to meet the needs of such a tournament.’ [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

The aroma of Arabic incense sticks is popularly known as bakhoor The air fills his majlis, an extended portion of his home on the outskirts of Qatar’s capital, Doha.

Al-Thani believes the event could show Western skeptics how an Arab, Muslim and Middle Eastern country could successfully pull off such a massive event.

He said he felt the prevailing narrative in the Western media about Qatar hosting the Cup had been negative and one-sided.

“These [media] The accounts do not describe how much Qatar has changed over the years,” he said.

“Qatar has changed beyond recognition in the last few years, we are green, there is a lot of innovation, digital transformation. It has all come together just in time for the World Cup. It is time for celebration,” he said.

change in society

For Maha Kafoud, a 21-year-old studying psychology in Melbourne, Australia, it’s not just the country’s infrastructure that she has seen marked change over the years.

Since she last returned from a visit to Qatar in January 2020, she has begun to notice changes within Qatari society.

“Earlier, if a Qatari woman did not wear an abaya, everyone would judge her by looking at her. But since I’ve been back, I’ve been wearing hoodies and going around all the new places and stuff in Doha, and nobody really cares,” Kafoud said.

“I am looking [Qatari] Men and women are together and no one bats an eye when they see it,” she said, adding that with so many people coming to Qatar from all over the world, change is “an expected thing”.

After returning earlier this month to watch the World Cup, Kafoud said the country felt “even more progressive and welcoming … holding on to its culture and traditions all this while”.

Display of ‘Our Culture’

kafoud participated on sunday opening ceremony With his father, an ardent football fan who played the game for 20 years, he started his own local team called Al-Matar Al-Qadeem in Qatar.

Kafoud said, “It was a historic event that I will remember for the rest of my life.”

“We really showed our culture to the whole world… knowing that millions of people saw the way we danced, listened to our songs, recited the Quran; It was such a beautiful thing.

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

Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman narrated the opening segment, telling the audience, “We all gather here in one big tribe.”

Freeman was presenting with Ghanim al-Mufta, a 20-year-old Qatari man who was born with a rare condition that disrupts the development of the lower spine. He read a verse from the Holy Quran calling for global unity.

“O humanity! Verily, We created you from a man and a woman, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you may know each other, ”he said.

for the opening match Qatar played EcuadorAround 60,000 fans were packed into Al Bayt Stadium in Al-Khor city, whose exterior was designed to resemble a traditional Bedouin tent.

Fireworks, singing and dancing marked the opening ceremony with a performance mixing themes from Qatari tradition with those from other cultures.

Kafoud said, “It was a proud moment for me and I think for all the people of Qatar, even for foreigners…we all had tears in our eyes.”

“I don’t think it’s ever been done before where we [Qataris] We were able to show the whole world a part of our Arab and Muslim heritage.

[Al Jazeera]
Around 60,000 fans packed into Al Bayt Stadium, whose exterior was designed to resemble a traditional Bedouin tent [Katya Bohdan/Al Jazeera]

expect more change

Even after the World Cup is over, Kafoud said he is “looking forward to seeing the change” that he hopes will follow.

“I hope these 28 days impress [Qatari] Society has become more open-minded and more welcoming of foreigners in general. Although there are a lot of foreigners here – more foreigners than Qataris – but there is a division, a separation, and I hope that after the World Cup, it will be more united.

The Al-Ali family and their three children are excited to see the football game in person, and have bought tickets for six different games at different stadiums in order to get the “full experience”.

His home, which he once worried was too isolated, is now in Lusail near one of the stadiums hosting the tournament, which includes matches with Portugal and Argentina, as the teams cheer on the family stands Will be

“we are fans of [Argentina’s Lionel] messi and [Portugal’s Cristiano] Ronaldo and I understand this is his last World Cup… so it’s good to be here and watch it,” Al-Ali said.

“I’ve been to the Arab Cup, and I’ve been to the Asia Cup, so now it’s very exciting to participate in the World Cup … Qatar has brought us the World Cup, so we have to take advantage of it, participate and It has to be experienced.” ,

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