Doha, 13 December 2022 - During a panel held by the Qatar Press Center (QPC) in cooperation with Qatar News Agency (QNA) on the Western campaign against the State of Qatar and the Arab world, coinciding with Qatar's hosting World Cup hosting, media experts, university professors and academics said that the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 altered the Western stereotypes about the Arab region, particularly the Gulf region, its people, civilization and culture.
The panel was attended by a host of experts and academics, editor-in-chiefs of Qatari newspapers, journalists, media professionals and interested persons, and some visitors and World Cup guests, who refuted the offensive and distorting Western campaigns against the State of Qatar and the Arab world due to ignorance, unprofessionalism and bias, stressing the long-lasting legacy of the tournament and its associated events within the memory of critics of Qatar, based on baseless and unjustifiable claims.
They said that the campaigns that started when Qatar won the World Cup bid in 2010 to withdraw the championship from Doha, grew more fierce in recent years and ahead of the kick-off of the World Cup. These campaigns fueled baseless claims that are not related to the regions' culture and civilization, deliberately overlooking the great Qatari achievements in labor environment, human rights, expatriate workers, women, and even people with special needs, they said.
They ascribed this Western attack to the Western sense of superiority and centralism, the orientalist legacy that presented a distorted image of the region, and the Western mindset that always seeks to dominate, impose culture, and disdain the civilization and culture of others. It is a conflict of ideas and beliefs, not related to geography, they said, calling for cultural diversity based on mutual respect and avoiding attempts to impose a certain culture on other societies.
The attendees said that the World Cup in Qatar was a message of connection and love regardless of any differences, especially with sports contributing to connecting peoples together and bridging cultural gaps. They also highlighted that hospitality, friendliness, welcoming and safety altered the prior impressions of western visitors and fans, including women.
The speakers slammed the campaigns as biased and distorting Arab and Islamic worlds, stressing the need for Arab countries and their media institutions to reformulate their media work to confront this fierce campaign, especially since they have all the means to achieve this.
HE President of the Qatar Press Center Saad Mohammed Al Rumaihi hailed the World Cup in Qatar as a unique global sporting event, which may not be repeated again in the Middle East region, given previous unsuccessful world cup bids.
In his inaugural speech, His Excellency said that the panel of discussion coincided with Qatar's World Cup hosting, stressing the rights of the peoples of the region and the world to rejoice, noting that soccer is not by a particular continent. As it was said that it is a game of the poor and the real face of competition, His Excellency said, pointing out that more than a billion people around the world are watching the World Cup in Qatar.
Al Rumaihi said that QPC and QNA wanted to organize this panel to disclose all the false campaigns and allegations being raised and promoted against the State of Qatar and the Arab youth, attempting to underestimate their right to organize this World Cup.
His Excellency thanked HE Director General of Qatar News Agency (QNA) Ahmed bin Said Al Rumaihi, for his efforts and active contribution to hold the panel and produce it in this wonderful and useful picture.
He also extended thanks to all colleagues who prepared for and attended this event, revealing that other initiatives will be launched in the future in which some concerned journalists and foreigners will be invited to express their opinions about their World Cup experience.
For his part, HE Director-General of Qatar News Agency (QNA) Ahmed bin Said Al Rumaihi said that the panel discussion is the first in cooperation with the QPC, one of the most promising media Qatari institutions, expressing happiness for this cooperation and voicing hopes to hold future seminars, conferences, panel discussions and other joint activities and events that serve the media work in the country.
This cooperation between QNA and QPC in holding this panel, which discusses the misleading and false Western campaigns against the World Cup in Qatar, comes out of our national and professional responsibility to confront this attack, expose its falsity, and uncover its real motives, His Excellency added.
After 12-year hard work, the State of Qatar managed to combat this falsehood by producing the best-ever World Cup, urging critics to admit Qatar's success in hosting and organizing this World Cup edition and to come to their senses and admit that the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is the best World Cup edition so far, His Excellency pointed out,
HE Director-General of QNA hailed the participants' analytical visions and ideas to confront the Western scheme against Qatar and the Arab and Islamic worlds as well as other racist attacks targeting Arab countries.
He expressed his sincere thanks to HE President of the QPC Saad bin Mohammed Al Rumaihi, for his efforts, patriotic sense, and initiative to hold this important panel in cooperation with QNA, hailing the panel as the beginning of positive and fruitful cooperation to serve the country, defend its gains, and confront its critics with argument and logic.
In this context, Director of the Middle East Council on Global Affairs, Tariq Mohamed Youssef said that the voices criticizing Qatar and its World Cup hosting, since the kick-off of the tournament, grew lower after seeing and experiencing the on-the-ground realities.
Upon watching the distinguished World Cup opening ceremony, the anti-Qatar campaigns faded, with major issues and topics replacing the superficial and side issues, Dr. Youssef said pointing out that this type of Negative media campaigns targeted more than one country and more than one major event in the world, as was the case in the Olympic Games in China, as well as before the start of the World Cup in Russia in 2018. However, these campaigns decreased in intensity over the time over the success achieved, he said.
Dr. Youssef added that the media campaigns against the State of Qatar in the last months ahead of the kick-off of the tournament were more intense and fierce, highlighting their focus on aspects that go beyond Qatar's pledges within the framework of its policies, programs and development plans.
This prompts everyone to inquire about the purpose of these campaigns, their potential connection to the historical Western stereotypical image of Arab countries, their cultural, civilization, and the current Western agenda and the cultural wars in many parts of the world, especially in the Western world.
There is a cultural conflict in these countries over issues related to gender, the role of women and employment, which have been exported and crystallized in order to focus on this tournament, Youssef said, questioning the reason for raising these issues at this particular time. He called for work to find out causes of these issues, away from explanations related to a specific theory, so that they would not be repeated in other tournaments during the coming period.
Dr. Youssef voiced his concern that the new world is abuzz with changes, differences and tensions that affect values, customs, cultures, civilization and other fundamentals.
He stressed the need not to underestimate these hypotheses because, according to him, the Western world is going through internal challenges and social tensions, known by some as cultural wars, that may tear its societies politically and culturally, and push them to unprecedented models of governance and legal challenges.
The Director of the Middle East Council for Global Affairs noted that the media campaign that Qatar faced is in fact a warning of what may happen in the world, and of the challenges that Arab countries may face at all levels in the coming period.
The Arab world is on the verge of a cultural war of a new kind that showed its early signs after Qatar won the World Cup bid; Arabs now face issues that seemed too far from their heritage and civilization, he said.
Commenting on the stances of the Arab countries and the region regarding these campaigns, Youssef said that there was not a clear Arab position at the level of states, governments, legislative bodies, or even at the level of intellectuals and observers in general.
When Qatar won the World Cup bid in 2010, human rights organizations and some countries raised questions related to freedoms and labor rights, he said, stressing Qatar's achievements in these fields that were commended both at home and abroad, including concerned international institutions.
He added that all these achievements that made Qatar a leading country in the field of expatriate workers' rights, did not obtain its right of media coverage. They were overlooked, and new issues were raised to impose themselves on the whole world, he added, indicating that the World Cup in Qatar may appear as one of the basic phases of conflict in this regard.
In a related context, he touched on the cultural differences between the societies of Eastern and Western European countries, and the fierce media campaigns faced by China and Russia, which indicates that everyone is now on the verge of a new cultural and civilizational conflict that affects very sensitive files, linked to basic values of societies and their civilizational and religious heritage. This requires further attention and initiatives and effective policies that preserve values and societies and support countries to stabilize, as well as dealing with them with a cultural, civilized, and humane approach.
He said that the media and diplomatic campaigns against China and Russia are understandable, but he lambasted the fierce campaign against Qatar as a friend and ally of the West, as a paradox. He explained that the new international order is being reformed amid a lot of diversified relations.
Dr. Youssef hailed as a world Cup legacy that many visitors and fans from Western countries closely watched the Qatari, Gulf and Arab customs, traditions and heritage, including their wearing Qatari and Gulf uniforms during matches, as well as the acquisition of many things that represent cultural symbols of Arab countries. He added that if it was built on, there will be a lot of positive and even unexpected results and reactions.
The world is now in a state of geopolitical and economic fluidity, amid multi-field diversity, balances between different forces, and cooperation between countries that seem to have contradicted interests, but they are working to re-introduce their relations and enter into programs and plans that bring closer points of view in this regard, he said.
He concluded that the World Cup opened the way for a new thinking about transcending traditional geography, adding that it will leave a lot of long-lasting future legacy.
For his part, Professor in residence of the faculty of liberal arts at Northwestern University in Qatar, Khaled Al Hroub ascribed the motives this Western attack on the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, to the Western sense of superiority and centrality as well as the orientalist legacy that provides a distorted picture of the region.
He said that the World Cup in Qatar revealed the depth of that Western centralism and racism, while nourishing it with the classic and new orientalist thought that stands behind many distorted Western stereotypes about the Arab region. He added that the Western media reinforced those negative stereotypes about the East, and revealed the extent of the depth of Western racism against the other.
This Western centralism triggered a feeling that hosting major events, such as the World Cup, is confined to the West, in complete disregard for the nature of this sporting event that is called the World Cup.
This sporting event is called the World Cup, not the Cup of the West, and any country has the right to organize it in a way that reflects its culture, traditions and identity, as happened in previous editions in Korea and Japan, Russia, Brazil and other countries that hosted the World Cup, Al Hroub said, defending the universality of the world's mega event.
The West is part of this world, they make only about eight percent of the world's population, and they are not the whole world. They have no right to impose their culture and vision on other peoples of the world, he said.
Al Hroub reaffirmed that classical and new orientalism fed the Western racism, which stands behind the attacks on the World Cup in Qatar. He believed that the old Orientalism continues and renews and stands behind Western perceptions that Western media constantly convey about the East, calling for Western countries to cleanse of this orientalist legacy that does not accept the other's identity and culture.
In this regard, he highlighted many Hollywood films as part of the Western view of the East and the Arab region in particular that depicted Arabs as backward, adventurous, terrorist and other negative images. These films have perpetuated in the Western and non-Western mentalities an extremely stereotypical and negative image of the Arabs and Muslims.
These perceptions and stereotypes about other peoples creates a suitable environment for Western politicians to take unjust decisions and measures against these peoples, as they are barbaric and savage, he said.
Part of these perceptions that have taken root over many years, is the Western support for Israel. Israel occupies Palestine, but Westerners think that it lives in a savage region and deserves all Western support, he said.
While stressing the perils of these Western perceptions in fueling cultural conflicts, Al Hroub highlighted moderates and defenders of cultural diversity in the West, including those who asserted Qatar's eligibility to host the World Cup.
He stressed the importance of promoting cultural diversity worldwide, which is based on mutual respect, and rejecting all attempts at cultural hegemony over the world and imposing certain values on the different peoples of the world. He also pointed out that the World Cup in Qatar reaffirmed and highlighted the issue of cultural diversity.
In this context, Al Hroub said that the State of Qatar sought to send messages of diversity to the world at the World Cup opening ceremony, highlighting the included Qur’anic verse, diversified personalities that appeared during the ceremony, and the authentic Arab values shown in the stands.
These World Cup messages presented a realistic and wonderful picture of the Arab region that values and respects women as a mother, sister and wife, and respects and guarantees the rights of people with disabilities as demonstrated at the opening ceremony, and respects all world cultures and the values and cultures of peoples, he said.
He added that the tournament in Qatar showed what could be called "soft Arabism", with all Arab fans cheering for all Arab teams and carrying the Palestinian flags, stressing the Arab's unity, regardless of crises and differences.
For his part, Algerian journalist and a member of the executive office of the International Sports Press Association, Africa region, Nazim Basoul, said the campaigns against Qatar were more severe and fierce than those targeting other countries in the past. He referred the attack on Qatar for being an Arab country with an Islamic religious culture, the Algerian journalist added. He also ascribed the criticism to the negative stereotypes promoted by Western press and cinema.
The fans who attended the tournament's fascinating organization, Arab generosity, ancient traditions and Islamic culture, ultimate security, and unprecedented World Cup atmosphere, contributed to altering these disinformation campaigns, he said.
For his part, Editor-in-Chief of the Gulf Times newspaper, and Deputy Director General of the Qatar Press Center, Faisal Al Mudahka hailed the panel as a tool to confront the suspicious and systematic media campaigns and the fierce attack targeting the State of Qatar since winning the World Cup bid in 2010. He added that the fallacies of the Western media were a systematic distortion of Arab and Islamic worlds.
Al Mudhahka stressed the need for collaboration of Arab countries and their media institutions to confront such campaigns, and to reformulate the media discourse, especially since they possess the required technology and financial and human resources.
He stressed the importance of respecting the different cultures and values of all peoples of the world, and the need for the Western world to stop imposing its hegemony and intellectual terror on the world, noting the necessity of spreading Arab and Islamic culture and introducing the civilizational heritage of this region and its human principles.