Saudi Arabia is planning big things - the envy of the crown prince

Saudi Arabia blockaded its neighbor Qatar for four years. The siege only ended nearly two years ago. There is no evidence of that in the World Cup.

Qatar has existed for only 51 years. Accordingly, most of the buildings in Doha and the surrounding area are new. In order to offer its own history and lifestyle to visitors, Qatar is building the “Cultural Village” Katara in the north of the capital. There are museums, a harbor with platforms, and public viewing of the World Cup.

In an alley on the edge of the port, men sell paintings. Most of the works feature famous players in unfamiliar roles – as if they were part of Qatari culture. In addition to Cristiano Ronaldo in the gown, the traditional white robe, and Diego Maradona as a camel driver, there is also a painting on display that has nothing to do with football. It includes the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamir bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, along with the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman. They smile and shake hands, and the Saudi leader wears a World Cup scarf in the colors of Qatar around his neck.

The painting with Sheikh Tamir bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani (left) and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman next to camel driver Diego Maradona.
The painting with Sheikh Tamir bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani (left) and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman next to “camel driver” Diego Maradona.

An image that may not have existed two years ago. At least not in the sense of the government of Qatar. Because Saudi Arabia prevented the organizer of the World Cup along with three other countries.

Qatar dances off the line

Five years ago, in June 2017, Qatar received news of fashion trends, as political scientist Nikolaus Fromm from Helmut Schmidt University Hamburg explained in an interview with t-online: “Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt joined in completely isolating the country, And Saudi Arabia, and the UAE in particular, has been troubled by the foreign policy of its neighbor, Qatar, for years.”

Since Qatar has taken in huge amounts of money over several years and invested in various fields, it has established extensive contacts with countries such as the United States of America and France and has attracted the attention of the global public through successful applications such as the World Handball Championship, World Athletics Championship or Football Arad WM . Big neighbor Saudi Arabia, the largest power in the Gulf region, did not like it.

German javelin athlete Johannes Vetter at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha.
German javelin athlete Johannes Vetter at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha. (Source: Anke Waelischmiller / SVEN SIMON via

Expert and writer on the Gulf states Robert Chatterjee of the Middle East magazine “Zenith” says: “Saudi Arabia sees itself as a leader in this region and Qatar is stepping out of the line there and boxing – at least this is how Saudi Arabia sees it – outside the weight category.”

In order to regain Qatar, a blockade was declared. Borders have been closed by land and air. But this was not the only measure taken by the blockers, as Nicholas Frome explains: “Qatar received a list of demands: stop your independent foreign policy, go back to the foreign policy line set by Saudi Arabia. From the point of view of the blockading countries.

The author of the book, Chatterjee (“There has never been a World Cup like this”) suspects more is behind the measure: “Maybe Saudi Arabia was a little jealous that the Qataris were getting the big stuff. Look at countries at the level of sports politics. Qatar is miles ahead.” About others. Qatar has been at PSG for a few years or works with Bayern Munich. Saudi Arabia is trying to catch up on all that in a short time. Qatar is also more reliable. What they announce and implement as well. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are less consistent there.” .

Logo "Qatar Airways" They can be seen on FC Bayern's sleeves, bands, and bench seats, among other things.
FC Bayern Munich’s “Qatar Airways” crest can be seen on the sleeves, strips, and seats on the coach’s seat, among other things. (Cowell: IMAGO / Michael Tiger)


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