Months later, the region’s first World Cup remains the talk of the town.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar was the focus of a popular Ramadan series by prominent Saudi Ahmad Al Shugairi on Wednesday, providing an inside look into the region’s biggest event.
The MBC 1 series, ‘Seen’ spotlights developments and inventions that have led progress in various industries, with special focus on the Arab world’s role in inspiring change.
However, the latest episode was dedicated to Al Shugairi’s experience in Qatar during the first World Cup to ever take place in the region, in which he showcased the economic benefits it brought to Doha.
“It’s not merely football,” Al Shugairi said in the episode.
Sporting a shirt of Saudi Arabia’s national team, Al Shugairi met with numerous figures from the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) who provided an insight into the event’s preparations.
“This is the idea of the World Cup, the meeting of cultures, nations’ traditions, traditional clothing, coexistence, learning about countries’ flags and habits,” Al Shugairi said as he toured Doha’s streets alongside fans from around the world.
With fans now stepping back from stadiums, the series was able to provide a look into the thought process behind the eight mega venues stadiums that were equipped to welcome more than a million fans from around the world.
Questioning why Qatar won the bid to host the World Cup back in 2010, one organiser pointed to FIFA’s study into each country. For Qatar, though its geographic size was initially deemed a weakness, this very element ended up working in its favour.
“A lot of record numbers occurred during the tournament in Qatar for the first time,” Al Shugairi explained, highlighting how for the first time ever, fans were able to attend multiple matches in a single day.
The host also cited a BBC survey in which 78% of respondents voted for Qatar’s tournament being the best World Cup in a century.
“One of the record numbers during the World Cup in Qatar is that it is one of the safest World Cup’s in its history, so riots that previously occurred among fans [elsewhere] were not present here,” Al Shugairi explained.
Aside from the tournament, the episode also highlighted the growth of the football industry over the previous decades and its role as a positive tool to empower the youth.
Arab victories and unity
The World Cup in Qatar brought forth many “firsts” and saw four Arab teams—Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Tunisia – take to the field.
“For the first time in the World Cup’s history, three Arab teams beat three teams that have previously won the World Cup,” Al Shugairi said, referring to Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Tunisia.
Months on, Morocco’s Atlas Lions have continued to make headlines in the media following their historic victories during the World Cup, in which the squad became the first Muslim, African and Arab team to reach the semi-finals.
Al Shugairi also spotlighted Arab unity in the episode, showcasing Moroccan fans in different parts of Europe celebrating the Atlas Lions’ victories. In one segment, fans in Frankfurt were seen parading in cars to celebrate Morocco’s win against Spain.
“Most Arab hearts are connected and most of them love one another,” he said.
“Football embodies that connection of the hearts. When Morocco won, all countries from Morocco to the Gulf were happy. When Saudi Arabia beat Argentina, every country from Morocco to the Gulf were happy,” he added.
Social media reacts
The episode was widely welcomed across the region with social media users jumping to commentate and look back on the historic moment for the Arab world.
“Saudi media figure Ahmed Al-Shugairi and a distinguished episode on the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar,” Jaber Al Harami, editor-in-chief at Al Sharq newspaper, said.
For others, the episode brought on World Cup nostalgia.
“Ahmad Al Shugairi in today’s episode of Seen brought back memories from the World Cup in beloved Qatar and the best and most beautiful tournament,” one social media user said.
Another said: “Absolutely incredible episode as usual from Ahmad Al Shugairi. It reminds us of the atmosphere of the Qatar World Cup and we got to know more about the challenge Qatar faced.”
“The World Cup episode of Seen programme by Ahmed Al-Shugairi is very beautiful. By God, football is the best thing on this planet,” one person echoed.