‘Our joy is one’: Saudi World Cup win sparks outpour of Arab unity

2. Saudi WC 1
Argentina’s Lionel Messi reacts during the Qatar 2022 World Cup football match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia on November 22, 2022. (Photos: AFP)
DOHA  — Saudi Arabia’s unexpected World Cup victory over giants Argentina triggered a rare moment of joint celebration across the fractured Arab world.اضافة اعلان

A caravan of Qatari cars, horns honking, paraded through the streets of Doha after the Saudis’ famous 2-1 win over the South American champions, one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history.

Saudi Arabia’s Saleh Al-Shehri celebrates after scoring during the Qatar 2022 World Cup football match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia on November 22, 2022. 

Tunisians, Moroccans, Egyptians, Lebanese, and Jordanians joined the throng of Saudi fans that partied in the Qatari capital.

“This is a historic victory for Saudi Arabia and a great victory for all Arabs,” 24-year-old Jordanian Ahmed Al-Qasim, his country’s flag draped around his shoulders, told AFP at a Doha fan zone.

The triumph was Saudi’s biggest since its World Cup debut in 1994 and the first for a Middle Eastern country in this year’s tournament, which is making its debut on Arab soil.

Some Qatari fans raised the kingdom’s flag alongside their own, and even Qatar’s emir watched the game draped in a Saudi scarf — days after the Saudi crown prince donned Qatari colors.

‘Athletic Arabism’

Tributes were paid around the region, with many Arab leaders voicing their congratulations on Twitter.

Two Doha skyscrapers lit up their glass facades with the green colors of the Saudi flag, as did Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.

Celebrations were seen in Gaza and there were even fireworks in Yemen.

On social media networks, Saudi Arabia’s victory topped regional trending lists and inspired a flurry of congratulatory posts as well as satirical memes mocking Argentina.

Nevin Massad, a professor of political science at Cairo University, called Saudi’s football win an “exceptionally emotional moment”.

“Political Arabism may no longer be possible, but there are different forms of Arabism among the people,” including “an athletic Arabism”, she told AFP.

Emirati political science professor Abdulkhaleq Abdulla called the Saudi team “Arab heroes”, in a post on Twitter.

Saudi Arabia’s success was followed by creditable performances by Tunisia and Morocco, who fought out 0-0 draws with Denmark and Croatia respectively, both strong European teams.

“We feel that all the Arabs are here behind us,” said 23-year-old Saudi fan Khaled Abdullah, who was part of the celebrations in Doha.

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