in Doha, the Arab supporters play an air of union of peoples

A tide of supporters in red jerseys swept through the aisles of Souk Waqif, Doha’s central market. Flag of the Moroccan kingdom in hand, they come to celebrate the unexpected victory of their team, Sunday, November 27, over the Belgian selection. “Earthquake, earthquake, our greetings to all the Arab world”scream the fans, in a thunder of youyous and applause.

As the heroes of the day slalom between the terraces of restaurants and cafes that border the souk, a tourist hotspot, the procession grows and turns into a euphoric melee, from which other banners emerge, in the colors of Palestine. , Egypt and Saudi Arabia. “It’s the Arab union here, all the peoples of the region are present”exclaims Khadija, 35, a computer engineer in Casablanca, a Palestinian flag on her back. “Today I am Moroccan, a few days ago when they beat Argentina I was Saudi, and tomorrow maybe I will be Tunisian”adds in unison Abdallah, a Kuwaiti official.

Even if it makes room for all nationalities, the Qatari World Cup has an indisputable Arab flavor. Qatar’s neighbors, Saudis in the first place, but also Emiratis, Kuwaitis and Omanis have landed en masse in the gas peninsula, by plane or by car. Evidenced by the scent of oud and bakhour, two amber fragrances very popular in the Gulf, which hover in the bays of the souk or some chic shops in Doha.

Family reunions

Qatari nationals obviously bought places, but they only constitute 10% of the three million inhabitants of the emirate and some of them, fearing traffic jams or an excessively violent clash of cultures, took advantage of the closure of schools to go abroad. On the other hand, the tens of thousands of Arab residents of the monarchy, a pole of professional attraction in the region, rushed to the ticket office and took the opportunity to bring in members of their family.

“I had not seen my mother for seven years and my sister for eleven years”, says Hamza, the Syrian director of a television channel financed by Qatar, which works between Istanbul and Doha. The Hayya card, which acts as a visa for ticket holders, allowed them both to travel to the emirate, via Beirut, something impossible in normal times. “We spent the first two days crying on sofas, this reunion was too emotional. Unfortunately, my brother, who lives in Austria, failed to obtain the Hayya. »

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