Inside a fan zone for migrant workers: ‘Our World Cup too, our stadium too’

ON THE big display screen erected on a platform on the observe nets of the Qatar Cricket Stadium, Senegal’s Kalidou Koulibaly scores off a free-kick to take his workforce to the last-16 of the soccer World Cup. Under the display screen, Samuel and his associates burst into an impromptu dance. They’re quickly joined by the opposite Senegalese among the many 1,000-odd spectators, most of them on the grassless grassbank or scattered within the gallery and on the picket planks.

Because the celebrations fade, Samuel clutches a rosary, praying the following 20 minutes move with out Ecuador equalising. When the ultimate whistle blows, Samuel attracts a cross within the air and shortly calls a good friend to rearrange for a celebration. “One of many happiest days in my life. I used to be a child when Senegal final certified for the pre-quarters (in 2002),” he says, beaming.

Welcome to Asian City — and this particular Fan Zone for Qatar’s migrant staff, one of many two arrange within the nation, with the opposite in Al Khor about 70 km away.

Removed from the dazzling skyscrapers of central Doha, that is the place the labour pressure converges to bury the day’s hardship and fill their lives with some pleasure. The disparity between the plusher Fan Zones, arrange for individuals who have flown in from all around the world, is clear.

Right here, there aren’t any beer stalls — lest brawls erupt, a policeman says — no frisking, no McDonald’s shops, no faces with welcome smiles, no girls followers, and no t-shirts and shorts, solely flowing kurtas and pale shirts. At half-time, Nineteen Nineties Bollywood chartbusters set the temper, and a lady organises a quiz competitors with the winners receiving t-shirts and different merchandise.

“I don’t have a QID (Qatar Identification Card), I can’t apply for a Hayya (stadium entry allow) and purchase a ticket as a result of that shall be costly. We’re barely making ends meet,” says Samuel, the tone of jubilation giving freely to hopelessness.

He landed in Doha with desires of changing into a safety personnel. “Africans are in demand on this career,” he says. However he ended up as a painter — and is a part of a 20-member workforce portray a 10-storey constructing close to the Previous Airport, incomes round 1,200 Qatari Riyals (Rs 26,000 approx) a month. The cash is “simply sufficient to maintain” regardless that Samuel stays with 10 associates in a two-room house on the outskirts of Asian City.

Behind this Fan Zone is a medium-sized shopping center and some semi-rundown theatres that largely display screen Malayalam, Hindi and Bengali motion pictures. There are packed tea-stalls with “kadak chai” for a riyal and “samosa-kachori” for 2 riyals. Deep inside Asian City, they declare which you could even get low-cost alcohol in black or home-made nation liquor, which was in “large demand throughout the lockdown”. “It’s a special world from Doha,” says Samuel.

However then, not all those that collect listed here are soccer diehards. Many come to spend a night with associates, to soak within the second, to get a second-hand expertise of what the world that has descended in Qatar is experiencing. Says Riyas from Peshawar, who works at a development web site for a month-to-month wage of 1,100 riyals, simply above the minimal wage of 1,000 riyals. “I don’t perceive soccer. I don’t get time to look at any sport, not even cricket. However I keep close to the Fan Zone so I believed I might simply have a look. It has a competition sort of a really feel, mela jaisa (like a good),” he says.

Now, he’s ready for the day Pakistan qualifies. “Once I heard in regards to the World Cup, I believed Pakistan could be there. Then, a good friend informed me you might want to qualify. In the future, God prepared, we can even qualify,” he says. The thrill round reminds him of the cricket he used to play below streetlights again residence. “I haven’t been residence in three years. They’re glad I’m right here as a result of I’m sending cash,” he says.

Everybody narrates the identical story — of money owed and wars, of joblessness and hopelessness again residence.

Baba Ali, a carpenter from Nepal, has been in Qatar for 30 years, and says he has seen town being constructed from “mere sand and dirt”. He says a number of of his associates and kinfolk have labored on stadium websites. And that’s the rationale he comes right here day by day, though those that helped construct the stadiums and infrastructure are removed from the revelry rolling out throughout the nation. So shut, but so distant.

Yeh hamara bhi stadium hain, yeh hamara bhi World Cup hain (That is our stadium too, that is our World Cup too),” says Ali.

On the way in which out of this Fan Zone, on the gate, there’s a FIFA message printed in Hindi. It reads: “Thanks in your contributions for delivering the perfect ever World Cup.”


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