The football frenzy in the FIFA World Cup 2022 goes beyond the four corners of the stadium as fans explore what Qatar has to offer.
“I walked around almost the entire Doha Corniche, it is beautiful and we took a boat ride, that was great, the (Doha) skyline was gorgeous,” Cesar from the US told Gulf Times. He has been roaming around Doha to discover some of the country’s hidden gems.
In his recent visit to Souq Waqif, Cesar said he had the chance to dine at a famous restaurant offering authentic Qatari cuisines – referring to Shai Shamoos, owned by the famous Qatari chef, Shams al-Qassabi.
“It was delicious, very traditional Qatari food, it was really good. We really wanted local cuisine since we have a lot of international food at home,” said Cesar, who is often seen taking pictures with other fans at Metro stations.
Al-Qassabi’s restaurant at the bustling and popular tourist spot is one of the most sought-after dining destinations by many visitors who want to get a taste of local cuisine.
He was also fascinated with Qatar’s stunning architecture and modernity – as seen during his visit to Msheireb Downtown Doha, the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre, and the West Bay area.
Slim from Tunisian echoed Cesar’s view citing Qatar’s diverse offerings as a destination, from its warm hospitality to its cultural attractions, as well as its numerous malls and shopping centres.
“I passed by Souq Waqif three to four times daily and it is big, it has much traditional stuff here. I bought abaya, a traditional Qatari dress, for my mother. I am happy to be here and I discovered many other spaces in Qatar,” said Slim, who also lauded Qatar’s successful organising of the FIFA World Cup 2022.
He said he was happy to see and meet different nationalities from various countries at Qatar’s traditional locations like the souq as they share their experiences since arriving in the country for the tournament.
“I like Majboos, this is a specialty here, it is very good,” Slim stressed.
Like Slim, many football fans find Souq Waqif as a vibrant and festive spot to hang-out and celebrate a team's win, drawing crowds who also share the same ecstasy and enthusiasm.
A group of Pakistani nationals who witnessed the motion art projections on the Ministry of Interior (MoI) building on Sunday was impressed with the extraordinary cleanliness and safety across Qatar.
The event showcased Qatar's past and present with such creativity, along with synced music, celebrating the staging of the prestigious 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Taka from Japan, along with his compatriots, enjoyed meeting supporters of other participating teams outside stadiums, taking pictures and videos with them, since the first day of the tournament.
He said the World Cup also provides an opportunity for fans like him to visit and explore the region, including neighbouring countries like Oman.
“I’m in Oman (now) but I will return to Qatar on Dec 1. Oman is good so far, good weather, mountain, desert, white clean buildings, beautiful ocean, and warm welcome by people,” Taka said.
Other Japanese visitors like Kohi and his friends shared a similar observation with Pakistani fans, saying they find Qatar clean, safe and beautiful with a lot of potentials to become a leading tourism destination.
While Japan has its own appeal among tourists, he said Qatar’s charm comes from its rich heritage and traditions that cannot be found in other regions – a reason why they plan to stay more.
Kohi said they plan to visit other places outside the city such as beaches and try some of the desert activities such as dune bashing and camel rides, which they have not experienced before.
About food, he said: “So far we’ve tried biryani and kebab for dinner and it is tasty,” he said, while eating a traditional Arabic crepe
Cesar with an Iranian supporter.
Slim enjoying his visit at Souq Waqif.
Souq Waqif brings together football fans from different countries.
Sword dance welcomes football fans who celebrate outside the four corners of the stadium. PICTURES: Joey Aguilar
Taka with compatriots and other football fans.