Qatar World Cup 2022: Region's fans revel in first Arab hosted tournament
Social media feeds and news reports are replete with festive scenes from Qatar, which is hosting the football World Cup, a first in the region's history. Ecstatic football fans from around the Middle East and North Africa have descended upon the Gulf state for the highly anticipated tournament bringing with them colour and emotive displays of support for their teams (Reuters)
A number of Middle Eastern and North African teams have made it to the World Cup this year, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Qatar and Tunisia. Many fans have expressed a sense of pride that their region is hosting a major sporting event. Here, a North African woman dressed in traditional clothing sings and chants at the Lusail Sports Arena, where some of the matches are being held.
Numerous world leaders have also been spotted at the World Cup, including Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was also seen at the opening ceremony (Reuters)
In this picture, a fan from Morocco waves the country's flag during their country's game against Croatia. A decade in the making, Qatar has invested tens of billions of dollars into infrastructure projects in the lead-up to the tournament, including stadia, residential buildings and entertainment venues. Organisers said they wanted to showcase Middle Eastern culture to an international audience (Reuters)
Qatari fans have had a significant presence both in the stadiums and out of it, with men identifiable through their white ghutra headdresses and thobes. The opening ceremony of the event began with a recitation of the Quran by Qatari influencer Ghanim al-Muftah, who appeared at the centre stage, alongside actor Morgan Freeman.
Muftah explained that Muslims believe people from different nations and tribes were put together on earth to learn from each other and find "beauty in our differences". A theme present throughout the World Cup has been celebrating unity and Islamic teachings. Quranic verses and hadiths (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) have been spotted around Doha. (AFP)
Early on in the tournament, Saudi Arabia shocked the world with a 2-1 win against favourites Argentina. Saudi fans took to the streets of Qatar to mark the seismic victory. Here, Saudi fans celebrate in Doha's popular cultural site, Souq Waqif (Reuters)
Despite not featuring in the tournament, the Palestinian flag has been a common site in Qatar, as fans seek to highlight their cause. The flag has appeared in the background during games and in televised interviews (AFP)
In the stadium, Iranian fans could be seen with face paint and a flag bearing the slogan, "woman", a tribute to the current protests happening in the country. Fans have been seen around Qatar donning bucket hats, Qatari keffiyehs and thobes.
The celebrations have continued beyond the stadiums and into tourist hotspots, such as Souq Waqif and the Corniche. Despite politics casting a shadow over the World Cup, evident in Iranian players refusing to sing the national anthem before the Iran-England game, and Sahrawi fans refusing to cheer on Morocco, the overarching sentiment has been one of unity between the MENA countries and fans. (AFP)
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