Qatar World Cup: Doha's guests welcomed with introduction to Islam - report

The Qatar World Cup is the first time the venerated soccer tournament was hosted in the Middle East, or in a Muslim country at all. For many, it may be their first trip to a Muslim country.

 Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Katara Cultural Village, Doha, Qatar - November 23, 2022 General view of pedestrians walking past a mural (photo credit: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters)
Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Katara Cultural Village, Doha, Qatar - November 23, 2022 General view of pedestrians walking past a mural
(photo credit: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters)

As hundreds of thousands of soccer fans flock to the Gulf State of Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the country has been giving visitors an introduction to Islam, the Associated Press reported.

The Qatar World Cup is the first time the venerated soccer tournament was hosted in the Middle East, or in a Muslim country at all. As such, for many soccer fans around the world, it may be their first venture to a Muslim state.

As reported by the AP, Qatar is eager to show more about Islam to its guests, with the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs launching a full pavilion for the World Cup guests at the Katara Cultural Village Mosque.

However, this isn't entirely new – while the AP only just reported about this on Saturday, the entire matter was reported on by Turkish-run Andalou Agency. 

The pavilion hosts electronic signs about Islam in over 30 languages, with booklets and korans available and distributed to guests. 

 A general view shows Pearl Island, an artificial island spanning nearly four square kilometres, ahead of the FIFA 2022 World Cup soccer tournament at Katara Cultural Village in Doha, Qatar November 17, 2022. (credit: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters) A general view shows Pearl Island, an artificial island spanning nearly four square kilometres, ahead of the FIFA 2022 World Cup soccer tournament at Katara Cultural Village in Doha, Qatar November 17, 2022. (credit: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters)

Buses that travel to the World Cup stadiums also have QR codes that, when scanned, teach readers about the Koran and Islam, according to AP.

Qatar and Islam: What are the laws and practices in the Muslim country?

The emirate of Qatar is known for its strict Islamic law that permeates throughout the country. 

The country practices Wahhabism, a form of Sunni Islam often considered by many to be extreme and ultrareligious. 

Qatar isn't alone in following this type of Islam – Saudi Arabia does too. And there are similarities between the two. 

For example, both Saudi Arabia and Qatar ban premarital sex and the sale of alcohol. Both are also noted for operating a legal system under Sharia law.

However, there are some differences.

While both countries have very harsh rules for women, Saudi Arabia is arguably harsher, with women being prohibited from appearing in public without a male chaperone and not being allowed to drive, as well as lower female participation in the workforce.

Qatar is still strict, but there are some differences. Most notably, women in Qatar make up a slight majority of the workforce, one of the highest ratios in the Arab world.

There are also differences in how both Wahhabist countries view the arts, with Qatar having a bit more freedom.

Of course, that doesn't mean Qatar is free from criticism. Rather, the emirate, despite its vast wealth and influence on both a regional and global level, has been the subject of numerous criticisms and condemnations regarding human rights violations.

The World Cup is another example, with Qatar having been accused of using bribery to secure the 2022 FIFA soccer tournament, as well as using the tournament to add to the national prestige while "sportswashing" any accusations of human rights abuses.

But regardless, the fact that so many people came to Qatar for the World Cup is still a chance for Doha to show off its country's religion, one that often has a bad reputation throughout the world.