The simple headscarf that unites the world: the ghutra makes a unique appearance at Qatar 2022

FILE - Branding is displayed near the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center where soccer World Cup draw will be held, in Doha, Qatar, on March 31, 2022. The final draw will be held on April 1. This season will be unique in the 135-year history of domestic leagues in Europe. They will stop for a month or more while players leave for Qatar and the first World Cup ever in the European winter. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic, File)

With the FIFA World Cup going global, trends at every edition are tailor-made for the visiting fans, meshing cultures together, with every host country trying to cater best to their needs.

In 2002, in Japan and South Korea, the hand fans were the ultimate rave. In South Africa in 2010, the vuvuzelas made the FIFA World Cup boom with sound, as the plastic trumpet has been imported to all continents after that edition of the competition.

But what about the first-ever FIFA World Cup edition organized in the Middle East? What could Qatar 2022 be famous for?

Well, the answer, after plenty of games elapsed in the competition, is the traditional garment of Qatar, the ghutra. The traditional headscarf worn by men in the region, often held in place by a ugal, two cord loops that go around the head with tassels hanging down the back, became an instant hit.

It all started with La’aeb, the mascot of Qatar 2022, which is a ghutra in itself and appears on all the stadiums and on the TV broadcasts. Its playful appearance invited plenty of fans to try a ghutra themselves and the traditional headscarf has been in huge demand in the Souq Waqif, the main market of Doha, Qatar’s capital, and in other fan zones.

With the FIFA World Cup organized for the first time in history in the Middle East, locals have been trying to get more and more visiting fans to understand the culture, cuisine, and traditions of Qatar.

Now, every time the international feed of the games pans out on the fans in the stands, a ghutra appears, from the traditional red and white ones to others painted in the colours of the national teams, proudly worn by everybody in the stands.

One of the most popular stores where fans can secure their personalized ghutras is “Ghutra Mundo”, situated near the metro station at Souq Waqif, the booming market of Doha.

“The main reason I opened this shop is to teach the fans and people from all around the world coming to Doha a bit of the Qatari culture which is the ghutra, egal, and the thobe. But mostly the ghutra and egal honestly because that’s the easier part to get; thob is like a dress, so people will find it quite hard to wear,” said the owner and founder of “Ghutra Mundo”, Khalifa Abdulhakim Al Naimi, according to the Peninsula Qatar outlet.

“This is not just a Qatari thing, it’s in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, and around the Middle East. it’s part of our persona. I want people to come for the World Cup and leave with our culture,” added Naimi.

And people have been flocking, with Brazilian, Argentinian, Moroccan, English, or Tunisian fans embracing the experience wholeheartedly, as they enjoy seeing their teams playing at Qatar 2022 and soaking up the Qatari culture.

“It means the world to host this tournament in Qatar. This is the time we show the world how we shine. Qatar may be small in size, but it is big in acts, and hopefully, this tournament shows that” added Naimi.

One ghutra costs 99 Qatari riyals, or roughly $27, and there are 32 options for every qualified team at Qatar 2022, with thobes going for 149 Qatari riyals, or $40, in either plain white or colour combos such as red and yellow or blue and white.

According to Naimi, there are four stores located across the city, at Katara Cultural Village, National Museum metro station, Old Doha Port, and Souq Waqif metro station.

And for every ghutra bought, the fans have a unique experience, with Naimi and his employees making sure that the history of the garment is explained, as well as trying different styles of wearing it.

“The ghutra is a great unifying symbol that is part of our national dress. To partake and share in our culture makes the ghutra a great symbol of hospitality”, concluded Naimi.

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