Have Yourself a Merry Little——-> Kenny G. Holiday
“The men grappled with each other to board the quickly filling bus. Others wriggled in through the windows, scaling the outside, using the large wheels as footholds and leaving scuff-marks on the white exterior with their shoes. These weren’t refugees fleeing disaster. They were migrant workers in 2022 World Cup host Qatar, fighting to earn a few dollars. The job: Pretend to be a sports fan. Qataris boast they’re mad for sports. The ruling emir of the oil-and-gas rich Gulf nation is so fond of football he bought Paris Saint-Germain, now France’s powerhouse team………. Thirty Qatar riyals – equivalent to $8 – won’t buy a beer in the luxury waterside hotel in Doha, the capital, where Qatari movers-and-shakers unwind. But for this pittance, workers from Africa and Asia sprint under blinding sun in the Doha industrial zone where they’re housed and surround a still-moving bus like bees on honey……………..”
During the FIFA World Cup games in South Africa, there were many groups, including families, rooting for the North Korean team. Which seemed odd, given that individuals in North Korea are not allowed to do any private travel overseas. If they could afford it. Then came reports, some of them credible, that these were Chinese crowds, including families with children, hired by the ruling dynasty in Pyongyang to pretend to be North Koreans.
Now we come to Qatar, where temporary foreign laborers are more than 87% of the population of about 2 million. Most of them are from South and Southeast Asia. There are just not enough people in Qatar to fill any stadium, even if expatriate laborers were willing to pay for tickets. Which they are not because they can’t afford it and most are not interested in football/soccer. Hence this practice of hiring foreign spectators. The ruling family of Qatar will spend billions for the privilege of being the only Middle East country to host the FIFA World Cup games in this century. Until somebody offers bigger bribes to FIFA officials.
This item was eagerly highlighted by Saudi semi-official Alarabiya, but only in its English edition. Gulf GCC media are rarely critical of other Gulf GCC countries and regimes. Which means tat Saudi-Qatari differences and tensions have not vanished, they were just swept under the rug for now. of course the fact that Qatar beat Saudi Arabia to win the Gulf Cup last month may also have something to do with this.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum