Arab unity at the World Cup after years of discontent


For a fast second after Saudi Arabia’s Salem Aldawsari fired a ball from merely contained within the penalty area into the once more of the net to seal a World Cup win in opposition to Argentina, Arabs all through the divided Heart East found one factor to have enjoyable.

Such Arab unity is troublesome to come back again by and fleeting when it arrives. Nonetheless Qatar’s web internet hosting of the World Cup has provided a second the place many throughout the Arab world have rallied by Doha and the Saudi workforce’s win.

Whether or not or not that momentum continues shall be examined on Saturday as Saudi Arabia faces Poland — and as regional tensions, non secular variations and renewed monetary opponents between worldwide places resume.

“All Arabic worldwide places are celebrating because of one Arab workforce acquired,” talked about 27-year-old Saudi Rakan Yousef after Arab followers congratulated him in Doha, Qatar, on the Inexperienced Falcons’ win. “Even the emir of Qatar attended our match. … There’s this sense now that we’re all brothers. That’s why I’m speechless.”

The Arab world’s division start even with the Arabic language.

Spoken Arabic changes regionally, with the Berber-infused Arabic of North Africa, the rapid-fire Egyptian heard in movies and television comedies, the fragile Levantine drawl and the guttural dialect of the Gulf Arabs.

Religion is one different differentiator — there are Muslims, every Sunni and Shiite with subgroups inside, and minority Christians, Druze, Baha’i and others. Completely completely different views on religion and regional rivalries bleed into conflicts, equal to the continued warfare in Yemen.

Nonetheless no matter an strive by al-Qaida to fireside up extremists, the monthlong World Cup in energy-rich Qatar so far has seen unity among the many many Gulf Arab nations. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, the heads of state in two worldwide places that just a few two years previously had boycotted Qatar, attended the match’s opening match.

Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, referred to as Qatar’s web internet hosting of the match “a milestone for all Arabs” and as well as attended the opening. That feeling was shared by others as successfully.

“We’re proud to be proper right here for the first World Cup in an Arabic nation,” Morocco coach Walid Regragui talked about.

Jordan’s Worldwide Minister Ayman Safadi equally praised Qatar whereas dismissing the criticisms of journalists — and by extension, rights groups.

“Qatar did a tremendous job organizing a World Cup. … Qatar certainly not claimed it was wonderful,” Safadi talked about. “We have variations in opinion, now we have now variations in views nevertheless that should not take away from the reality that Qatar has really put collectively a World Cup that is distinctive in every sense of the phrase.”

Nonetheless the best shock bought right here two days later as Saudi Arabia shocked Argentina by profitable their opener throughout the match, with Aldawsari doing a cartwheel and a flip. Qatar’s ruling emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, attended the match and wore a Saudi flag spherical his shoulders.

One veteran Saudi sports activities actions journalist, Majed al-Tuwaijri, even wept on air after the match.

“That’s primarily probably the most gorgeous and crucial second in my life and my 30-year media occupation,” he talked about, his voice choking up. “I uncover myself failing to specific myself because of the complexity of my feelings in direction of this good historic victory.”

As a result of the prince has risen to vitality, the dominion has socially liberalized by allowing women to drive, reopening movie theaters and curbing its morality police. His suggestions to the workforce ahead of the match, urging them to “get pleasure from” the matches, have been repeated regularly in Saudi Arabia’s tightly managed press.

Nonetheless Prince Mohammed moreover led a self-described corruption crackdown concentrating on anyone with vitality throughout the kingdom. U.S. intelligence companies think about the brutal slaying of Washington Submit columnist Jamal Khashoggi on the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul bought right here at his orders, one factor denied by the dominion.

Within the meantime, monetary competitors between the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia has been rising as Riyadh tries to draw worldwide enterprise from Dubai. Qatar, which confronted a Saudi-led boycott solely two years earlier, has embraced the dominion whereas solidifying ties with the US as hedge. The inconclusive warfare in Yemen nonetheless rages.

Soccer offers a respite, nevertheless no panacea for these woes.

“You’d should have a historic lobotomy to imagine this is usually a safe space,” talked about David B. Roberts, an affiliate professor at King’s Faculty London who prolonged has studied Gulf Arab nations.

Associated Press writers Isabel DeBre and Gerald Imray in Doha, Qatar, and Renata Brito in Barcelona, Spain, contributed to this report.


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