‘Like a dream’: Catching up with World Cup fans at Souq Waqif

Souq Waqif has been a hotspot for international fan parades, and even those looking to have a World Cup-themed shopping spree. The historic market is now well known to all visitors.

Everyone saw the crowded videos of fans that have come out of Souq Waqif in recent days, and the many country-themed ghutras, but did you get a chance to speak to them?

In case you didn’t, we did.

Doha News sat down with international fans at Souq Waqif to catch up on how they’re feeling, what they’ve done in Doha so far, and what’s on their must-do list.

Guillermo, Uruguay

A lawyer, entrepreneur, and the founder of a startup back home, Guillermo has a lot going on in his life, but that didn’t stop him from coming to cheer on his country with his father.

He’s rooting for Uruguay – and if they don’t win the World Cup, he hopes Brazil takes the trophy home.

It’s their first time in Doha, and they’ve only been here for three days.

We quickly learned that Guillermo loves dates. When asked about the one thing on his to-do list in the country – or the Middle East in general – he answered: “eat dates.”

Warm welcome

As Doha News spoke to him, numerous Qataris and Saudi came by to help fix his father’s ghutra. Guillermo’s father speaks no English, so both parties communicated with sign language, in true World Cup spirit.

While it’s their first time visiting the Middle East, they say they that “everyone has been so friendly and welcoming.”

It’s also their first time hearing the athan, and seeing people actually head to the mosque to pray.

“It’s very new to us, and we really respect it, it takes faith and dedication,” Guillermo said.

Nicolas and friends, Argentina

Nicolas, or Nico, as he likes to be called, had been planning a trip with his friends to the World Cup for quite some time now, and now they’re all more than excited that it’s finally happening.

What makes this World Cup so special to them is that its Messi’s last time in the top tournament.

“It went from an idea in our group chat to a reality, and it feels like a dream getting to see Messi play his last World Cup,” Nico said.

In fact, they all come from Rosario – the town Messi was born and raised in.

“We’re all gathered here in the Souq because there was what we called a banderazo, a gathering of fans, we’re all like one big family, and I love that. It’s amazing, we’re having a great time here.”

A journey well worth it

Their trip to Doha was very long, one of Nicolas’ friends told us how it went: “We start[ed] from Buenos Aires, then to Paris, then to Milan, then Cairo, and finally Doha.”

In Cairo, they didn’t just transit, as they took advantage of their World Cup trip to check more countries off their bucket list.

“We think the World Cup organisation is amazing. Qatar did a great job, especially when it comes to transportation, in my opinion,” said Nico.

They’re trying to make time to visit the museum here, but they’ve been so busy with all the World Cup activities. So far, they’ve went dune bashing.

Sheban Al Sa’ari, Saudi Arabia

Like many Saudi fans, Al Sa’ari arrived to Doha on November 21, just a day before the Saudi Arabia’s historic 2-1 win over Argentina.

After the green victory yesterday, he hopes and believes that the team will make it past the group stages. However, he thinks that Brazil will be crowned as winners of the FIFA 2022 World Cup.

“Our culture is one, us and the Qataris, and as Saudis and Khaleejis, we are honoured with the way Qatar has been representing us. We hope that the World Cup will be successful by all standards, whether it’s the coverage or organisation,”

Seeing the international fans has been very exciting for Al Sa’ari. His favourite moments are fan interactions before and after big games, and he thinks the Souq is the perfect spot for those who want to meet fans from all around the globe.

The most fun he had though? Challenging the Argentinian fans, which he did before knowing that his national team will be putting the Argentinians to shame.

When asked if he has anything to say to the people of Qatar, he had a very pressing question for everyone: “Where does one rent a car here?”

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