Al Khor, Qatar (AP)
Qatar opened the Middle East’s first-ever FIFA World Cup on Sunday in front of world leaders and football fans who poured into the energy-rich country after being devastated by regional boycotts and international criticism.
With the sweet vocals of American actor Morgan Freeman and a camel motif, the Arabic-inspired opening ceremony began with the promise that “everyone is welcome.”
Regardless of Qatar-Ecuador’s outcome on the pitch, Doha has already drawn Saudi Arabia’s mighty Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the tournament’s opening ceremony and first match.
The presence of Crown Prince Mohammed, whose years of political strife have closed Qatar’s only border with the world, shows just how far reconciliation has come between the two countries.
Newspaper columns during the crisis even suggested digging trenches along the 87-kilometer (54-mile) border and filling it with nuclear waste at the height of the conflict. He suggested that this sparked the war.
Its roots lie in Qatar’s stance of backing Islamists who came to power in Egypt and elsewhere following the Arab Spring of 2011. Qatar saw their arrival as a sea change in the gerontocracy ruling the Middle East, while other Gulf Arab states saw the protests as a threat to their autocratic and hereditary rule.
Qatar has also faced criticism from the West as the group it originally funded in Syria’s civil war has become militant. Qatar has since denied funding Islamic extremism, despite criticism from across the American political spectrum, from Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump.
Qatar, like Saudi Arabia, espouses an ultra-conservative Islam known as Wahhabism. Still, the country allows alcohol to be served in hotel bars and in FIFA fanzones around the country. likely to lead to a ban on beer in
The extremist group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, based in Yemen, issued a communiqué on Saturday criticizing the Qatari people for hosting a tournament that “brings immoral people, homosexuals, the seeds of corruption and atheism”.
“We warn our Muslim brothers not to follow or participate in this event,” the group said, calling on academics not to endorse it. Never threatening directly, it has been weakened by years of drone attacks by US forces and engulfed in the ongoing war in Yemen.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Teboun, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Senegal President Mackey Sall, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Rwandan Paul at the opening ceremony on Sunday evening.・President Kagame attended.
The Crown Prince of Kuwait was also present, along with the Director General of the World Health Organization and the President of Djibouti. Also in attendance was King Abdullah II of Jordan.
But the biggest applause went to Qatar’s ruler, Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and his father, Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, who won the tournament in 2010.
Meanwhile, Iran has nominated only a youth and sports minister, rather than a hardline president, as the Islamic Republic faces months of protests over the death of a 22-year-old woman previously detained by the country’s moral police. dispatched.
It remains unclear at what level Western countries will attend the ceremony and play Sunday night. It has received withering criticism for its treatment of wage workers.
Before the game, however, an honor guard on camels and Arabian horses awaited the event’s expected VIPs with M4 rifles dangling from their shoulders.
Associated Press writer Lujain Joe contributed to this report.
https://www.winknews.com/2022/11/20/qatar-opens-mideasts-first-world-cup-before-leaders-fans/ Qatar to host first World Cup in Middle East in front of leaders and fans