Several readers have sprung to the defense of Qatar, in response to the criticism leveled by reader David G. None, however, argues that it is a good idea to play the World Cup there, as opposed to playing it in the U.S. in other countries that were in contention .
One reader, who has been visiting Doha regularly for the past 15 years, tells me:
It’s not terribly conservative. Women are over taking men in engineering degrees. Women drive and Qatar encourages dialogue with Israel and has a Christian church – unusual for a Muslim nation. Sheikha Mozah often sports a tight scarf and often shows some hair. Qatar is a major regional ally of the USA and hosts the US regional command centre after it moved out of Saudi Arabia.
I know it’s not London or Houston but it is not some backward, repressive state. They are per capita the richest people in the world – 250,000 Qatari’s in a population pushing 1,000,000. There will be some logistical and cultural challenges but FIFA and Doha have thoroughly reviewed and discussed
Another reader writes:
Your correspondent and I must visit different parts of Qatar. I just this week returned from there and, while Qatar is not a paradise, it’s far from the dungeon he describes. Is he positive he didn’t make a wrong turn somewhere and end up in Saudi Arabia?
As for there being “not a single damn thing to do, entertainment wise”. . . there are movie theaters (IMAX), the malls, bars (in the hotels), resorts, dune buggies, jet-skis, golf courses, a zoo (small but $1 fee), etc. If, however, you went to Doha and expected to find the Qatari
version of New York, well, dream on. . . .
There are Christian churches that advertise in the local papers, though, thereare no signs or crosses on the buildings that house the churches. I go to a church there that has over two hundred attendees every Friday. I hear the Catholic church is especially large. The sermons are not controlled, as they are in churches in China, and the congregation is unmolested. Christian religious material is not forbidden.
I usually make a three month trip once a year and as a civilian I live “off base” whereas military members are only allowed off base for day trips. Most of the resorts and, of course, the bars are off limits to military members.
As for the Qatari’s, I do urban hikes through Doha on a regular basis and walk through areas not many Americans see. I wear shorts (it can be hot there). but have never been stopped or questioned. The crowds are as diverse as in any American city I’ve been to. English is the second language and is spoken everywhere since most of the laborers are non-Qataris and hail from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, etc. . . .
As for soccer, the Qataris are crazy about it. Qatar [has] hosted the. . .Asian cup which, apparently, came off okay. . . . I personally don’t care where they hold any soccer match. I would rather be beaten with chains than watch a soccer match. . . .
I’ll pass over the slur on “the beautiful game” and note that the Asian Cup is held during the winter. The World Cup takes place during the summer.
In this connection, a third reader writes:
Regarding holding the World Cup in Qatar, I had the opportunity to visit there twice this year. Once, in early June on my way to Iraq and again (more happily) in mid August coming home. You may know we have bases there – we staged at the main one and got issued our body armor, etc. and waited for a C-130 ride.
In June it was really hot. After 2 months duty in Iraq, I was pretty acclimated to the heat, but the 3 days in Qatar in August were literally the most uncomfortable I’ve ever been. The same horrible heat of Iraq plus the humidity of the sea level Persian Gulf are indescribable. I would get up with the sun at 0500 and leaving the A/C tent would immediately be sweating profusely. It only got worse as the day went on and we all found refuge anywhere we could indoors since we had no duties except wait for a ride home. The tents where our bunks were got too hot in the day since the A/C could not cope.
I cannot imagine how the visitors for the World Cup will react to this. A/C stadia or no, they have to go outside sometimes. What a joke!
My thought, exactly.