Doha News is catching up with fans in Qatar throughout the 2022 World Cup tournament to shed light on their diverse experiences.
After a 12-year wait, the 2022 World Cup came to reality, with multiple fan zones buzzing with spectators from all over the globe – all united to enjoy the sport.
And the FIFA Fan Zone is promoting the role of sports in bringing people together – some for the very first time in months or years following the Covid-19 pandemic.
For Amanda, a 28-year-old Swedish national, the major tournament was another chance to visit the country to see her partner of seven years.
Sitting at the fan zone under Qatar’s November breeze, Amanda and her partner were enjoying the experience at the park after arriving on Saturday.
When asked about her overall thoughts, Amanda was impressed by one thing: the speed of the passport control at the airport.
But beyond the fast entry process, Amanda witnessed the reality behind many headlines criticisng Qatar in the West, where she lives.
“I think it’s not a fair picture that the Western media is giving Qatar, there’s a lot of focus on negative things. This place has developed so much, I see so many positive things that western media is not picking up,” said Amanda.
All eyes were on Qatar the moment it made history in 2010 as the first nation in the Middle East to host the major sporting event. When the dream became a reality on Sunday, the lens on Qatar only widened as the Gulf state opened up an entire portal to the region.
While Amanda was quite young at the time of the announcement, little did she know that her future partner would be living in Doha.
Her first ever visit to Qatar was in 2016, which she initially thought was “exotic” while urging people in Europe to experience the Gulf state. Amanda also paints the image of her time in Doha to her family and friends.
“People actually listen, they’re interested and especially when they realize ‘maybe it isn’t so bad’,” she said.
Sitting beside her, Amanda’s partner shared the same thoughts as they sat in front of the beaming lights of the monitor live streaming the Wales versus United States match.
Taking a moment to stare at the vibrant fan zone, Amanda said: “This is great.”
And as she continues to join tens of thousands of fans in celebrating sports with all of its aspects; be it cultural or humanitarian.
To those with misconceptions about the region, she said: “Be open-minded. Everyone deserves a chance.”