Saturday 04 Feb 2023

Goan fans experience Arabic culture during World Cup in Qatar

Goan fans experience Arabic culture during World Cup in Qatar


Vasco-based Vishal Agapurkar always wanted to slip into the traditional Arabic dress as and when the opportunity came his way. After waiting for a few years, the World Cup in Qatar presented him with the perfect platform to try out a few things from cuisine to local dresses.
Taking the adage, a step further, Vishal and his friends all Portugal supporters bought a Ghutra and Igal at Souq Waqif in traditional colours of green and red, a popular traditional market and after some expert help from the shop assistants managed to wear the Ghutra and Igal, the headgear which along with Thobe, the long full garment is one of the traditional dress of men in the Arabic world.
The Ghutra worn on the head is tied around the head, the cap is known as the Kahfiyah, and the Ighal is draped over the Ghutra. Igal is to prevent the Ghutra from blowing away in the wind. Igal is a thick ring of cotton. A thread or string is tied around it. Igal, meaning rope, is part of the traditional Arab headdress.
“All Igals are almost identical. The main difference will be in the yarn used. Nylon, cotton or goat and camel hair. The best Igal is made of sheep hair. Most of them are imported from Turkey, Brazil and other countries. But the finest sheep's hair comes from England,” said one Bangladeshi shop assistant working at a shop selling traditional dress.
Shops in and around Qatar are not selling Kahfiyah and a Qatari shop owner explains why.
“The Kahfiyah is a cap which is worn by people who wear the headgear for a long period of time as it helps in absorbing the sweat,” explains, Khalifa Abdul Hakim Al Naimi, owner of a Ghutra Mundo enterprise which sells the traditional headgear at five different locations during the World Cup.
Naimi and his shop support staff have been helping thousands of fans to have the uniqueness of the Arabic world and helping them to move into the traditional gear.
Traditional belief is that the headscarf helps to ward off the heat from the desert sun and also protects from dust.
“The headgear was used by our ancestors to protect us Arabs from the heat of the sun, wind and dust. I'm trying to mix the Arabic culture and customs and teach the World Cup fans something about Qatar,” said Al Naimi.
“It's (the headgear) part of our culture, but we are blending it with the countries that are competing in the World Cup. So for Brazil the Ghutra, Igal and Thob match the colours, so yellow, blue and green represent Brazil. and also we have the Brazilian flag, but it's usually plain without any names or any letters. We have Portugal, Morocco, Mexico.”
“We have different colours for all different flags. South Korea, Brazil, Senegal, Ghana, Uruguay, Portugal, Denmark, Serbia, all teams which are competing in the FIFA 22 Qatar World Cup.”
Explaining further he says: “We have plain clothes just like what I am wearing which is white, so we don't want to put any names on the Thobe.”
Al Nuami says the original Arabic culture and dress is kept intact by generations.
“Besides the white Thobe, we have different coloured Thobe. We wear colourful tubes in winter as well. In the winter, you can also see the black Thobe, the brown Thope and the grey top stripes. But it's usually plain without any names or any letters."
The Qatari through his enterprise is helping many people to have a firsthand experience of Qatar culture and traditions.
Just like Vishal, many Indians and other nationalities are making a mad rush to Souq Wafiq metro station shop trying to buy World Cup memorabilia.
Fans owing allegiance to Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Japan, America and France were picking up on the tradition and moving out of the shop and soaking in the local culture.
“It was not easy but we got help from many people to help us wear it and help adjust it whenever we needed, it was a nice feeling to be in the traditional dress although we did not wear the Thobe,” said Vishal, who along with his friends was attending his first World Cup in person.
There were more firsts for Vishal and his friends as it was also the first time they were watching Portugal's national team in action and also their football hero Cristiano Ronaldo.
“Yes, we watched Portugal's first match against Ghana which our favourite team won 3-2, we could only watch one match of Portugal and we will follow the rest of the World Cup from Qatar,” said Vishal, who has since returned to Goa.
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