A lot of football fans from various countries, attending the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, are wearing the Arab headdress, the ghutra and the agal (Arabic for headband), in particular. Gulf Times spoke to the man behind this idea, Ashraf Abu Issa.
"The idea of producing the Qatari headdress and headband in the colours of national teams’ shirts and flags participating in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 came to my mind a year and a half ago," he recalled.
"In order to implement it in a distinguished way, we contacted the FIFA and the teams themselves to ensure that the colours are correct, following which an easy-to-use headwear and headband for all teams were produced, with the official FIFA seal, as an original product,” he explained.
“The purpose of manufacturing the headwear and the headband and selling them to non-Arabs is cultural, and the main goal is to change the negative impression of the symbolism of the headwear and the headband, which has been portrayed in the world as a symbol or a stereotype of terrorism. It is going to remove the cultural barrier.
"The majority of fans wear it according to the colours of their teams, and buy them as presents for their friends and families, and this will convey the true image of this dress. The impact of the fans wearing the headwear and the headband is that we have broken the barrier of the false propaganda from the West.
"Secondly, fans of all ages wear it and these images will remain in their memories forever. Also history will record that the 2022 FIFA World Cup was held in Qatar. The fans will be the ambassadors who promote the positive image of the headwear and the headband and convey the true picture of the Arab-Islamic culture, from what they experienced and witnessed of the distinguished and positive treatment, and the material and moral cleanliness of the Arab people. They will convey their experience to their people about the good organisation, good reception, security and safety and the honourable Qatari people who respect all peoples. They understand now that Qatar is a developed country, appreciated for its true value, by those who visited it and resided in it.
“There are many who imitated this headwear, which sells very well, but the official ghutra is the one that bears the emblem of the World Cup. We also want to convey to the fans and all those who visited Qatar during the championship the image of tolerance in Islam, the ethics of hospitality, the openness of Qatar to all cultures and the culture of sports in Qatar, the only country that has an official sports day to encourage citizens and residents to practice sports,” Abu Issa concluded.
Brazilian fan Jurema Cardoso Arruda, who is accompanying her father, clad in the Qatari headwear and headband with Brazilian colours told Gulf Times: “As we are in this country we have to wear a garment which represents it. It is going to be an indelible memory from this championship. I love this integration of different cultures. I love my stay in Qatar and FIFA and Qatar have organised the World Cup very well. I appreciate the luxurious malls, the lights and the fireworks which make the city very beautiful at night. The Qatari people are very welcoming, hospitable, and they have already invited us to their home to see the games together. They gave a special welcome to our team.”
The headwear and the headband until recently were portrayed in Western media, including cinema (Hollywood), as a symbol of ignorance, illiteracy, and backwardness and so on. The World Cup fans have been wearing the Arab headwear which helped change this perception of the Arab stereotype. The World Cup will be a turning point, a real game changer. People from all over the world have a real experience of Arab and Islamic (Eastern) hospitality and culture. Arab cultural history will be divided into two phases - the picture before and after the World Cup. One by one it will be very different, very positive.
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