With less than 24 hours to go until the kickoff of the World Cup 2022, large Arab crowds gathered in a show of support to the small Arab nation in its hosting of the tournament in complete excitement and pride, eagerly waiting for the beginning of what will be the first ever World Cup on Arab land.
Along with slogans of liberation and return, chants were raised in encouragement for “Al-Annabi”, meaning Burgundy, which is a title to address Qatar’s national team, who will be playing against Ecuador in the World Cup opening match today.
The Palestinian cause has been given a lot of attention in times leading to the World Cup, with Qatar repeatedly ruling out normalisation.
Last week, Qatar’s Assistant Foreign Minister Lolwah Al-Khater spoke to the media stressing that Palestine will always remain in the conscience of Qatar.
“We expect to celebrate with thousands of our brothers and sisters from Palestine and we affirm here that their cause and our just cause in Palestine will always remain present in our conscience.”, she said.
Earlier this year, Qatar received praise from pro-palestine activists for removing Israel from the list on its World Cup hospitality booking site, instead replacing that with “Palestinian Territories, Occupied”.
More recently, the gulf state disallowed Israel to operate a temporary consulate in Doha during the World Cup, leaving Israeli citizens to be provided consular services through a private international travel company.
Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, at the UN General Assembly had also called on the international community to “compel Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian territories” and repeatedly stood against normalisation with Israel. Speaking to a French news outlet for an interview, Al Thani reiterated his stance against the occupation of Palestine. “Every country has the right to establish relations with the countries it wants. But what is normalization with Israel? Seriously, are things normal in Israel? No!” He said to France’s Le Point.
Qatar Charity has opened World Cup tents in various refugee camps, bringing them the experience by setting up fan zones with large screens under the campaign titled “Qatar 2022 for all”, in countries like Jordan, which is home to more than 2 million Palestinian refugees.
“The ball has lit up the Arab land”
During the parade Saturday, Palestinians also raised cheers for the Arab teams participating in the World Cup, in a show of support, unity and pride to their people participating in the world’s biggest football tournament.
The World Cup to be held in Qatar has been a source of pride for the West Asian region as a whole. Supporters of the World Cup are adamant that the FIFA World Cup 2022 held in Qatar will be leaving a legendary mark in the history of football.