The rather minuscule State of Qatar (in terms of size but not of heart) erupted in joy earlier in February after its national football team was named the new kings of the most popular sport in the world upon winning the glorious and epic Asian Federation Cup (AFC) Games 2019 in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Besides the team being first time Asian Cup winners, Qatar’s victory over finals rival Japan, with a 3 -1 score, also brought the country's overall FIFA ranking up to 55 (as of February 7) from rank 93 last time.
Qatar defeated Lebanon, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, South Korea, the UAE and Japan to lift the trophy with a tournament record plus 18 goal difference. The team capped off one of the most improbable Asian Cup runs in the tournament's history, especially since they conceded only one goal in all their games.
With all the above-mentioned epic achievements under the winning football team's belt, there's no denying the fact that there's every reason to celebrate the so-called biggest sporting success that Qatar has seen in history.
Apart from a jampacked hero's welcome which we've covered, countless offers and promotions on flights, food, accommodation, etc were also all over Qatar to honour the national team's win but what made the most impact, though totally underreported, were these things:
Almost exactly 2 weeks after the new kings of football lifted their first AFC trophy happened the 8th edition of the annual Qatar National Sport Day (QNSD).
Being one of the very few countries in the world which dedicates a national holiday for sports, the second Tuesday of February 2019 saw very well-attended QNSD celebrations in all areas of Qatar with the Aspire Park, Doha Corniche, and Katara Cultural Village leading the wide array of fun activities.
The Amir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani himself participated in the festivities as he visited Aspire Zone Foundation’s Football Skills Development Center. H H Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, on the other hand, attended Qatar Foundation’s QNSD celebrations at Education City.
The QNSD was celebrated across the country with the participation of thousands of citizens and residents. At Aspire Zone, the celebrations were attended by more than 30,000 people of all ages. Community members, families and children enjoyed 30 sporting events across Aspire’s world-class venues.
Football fans also had the chance to take selfies with the AFC trophy itself as it was on display at the Katara Cultural Village's Koora Time during Qatar's most active day.
Qatar Museums (QM) marked history with the announcement of the installation of a new public art piece by acclaimed French artist César Baldaccini at the heart of Souq Waqif.
Le Pouce, in the shape of a giant thumb as it translates directly to English as 'The Thumb', is one of its creator’s best-known pieces and a popular example of his tendency to create larger than life experiences. The art installation becomes the latest addition to Qatar’s extensive public art collection, which aims to connect audiences living in and visiting Qatar with inspiring works of art through unexpected interactions in daily life.
QM chose Souq Waqif as the site for Le Pouce to combine this historic heart of the city with a piece of modern history, linking the traditional with the contemporary. Within the Souq, the exact location of the piece, in the courtyard next to the police station, helps emphasise the scale of the work in relation to the surrounding buildings and the juxtaposition of the sculpture on the streetscape of cafes.
Two days after the Al Annabi dominated the Cup, Qatar Post issued commemorative stamps (special edition) for each player of the national team as well as the technical and administrative staff of the same occasion.
The aim of releasing the stamps is to document the important events that the country is going through, especially those ones which are first of its kind.
During the celebrations of the Asian Cup victory in Qatar, especially in the Corniche while fans are waiting for the football heroes to come, the song ‘Shoomilah Shoomilah’ has gone viral among all—players and fans alike. Everyone—Arabs and non-Arabs—were singing or playing the song on a loop during the past few days as the whole nation erupted in joy marking the historic victory of the Al Annabi.
The song, written by Ayed bin Ghayda and composed by Abdullah Al Manai, has been in existence even before the Asian Cup, but it got a new life as the Qatari players were seen singing it after their thumping victory over UAE. In a small video posted on social media, the players were singing ‘Shoomilah Shoomilah’ inside their locker room. The said video was shared widely and it became like an anthem for the team and its celebrations.
Argentinian football superstar Lionel Messi surprised Qatari Asian Cup hero Almoez Ali with a Barcelona jersey signed by him.
The gift came after Almoez Ali, with nine critical goals, helped Al Annabi to win the Asian Cup 2019. He was also crowned the player of tournament award and the top scorer in the recently-concluded Asian Cup.
During a show on BeIN Sport the presenter, Ayman Jada, presented Almoez a picture of the t-shirt numbered 19 and signed by the Barcelona star.
Qatar daily The Gulf Times reported that a first-year student at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q), won a gold medal at the 11th International Invention Fair Middle East (IIFME) that took place in Kuwait recently.
Mohamed Larri, who is studying Information Systems, was the youngest inventor to win a gold medal in this year’s competition. He is part of the Qatar Scientific Club (QSC), which sent a large contingent of inventors to the competition.
Larri was awarded the gold medal for inventing an offside detector for football matches. The system detects the position of the players and sends an automatic notification to the referee when a player is offside.
A competitive football player himself, Larri joined the QSC in 2016 and developed his idea with the help of QSC experts. “My plan is to use it here in Qatar in the 2022 FIFA World Cup,” says Larri, who continues to develop and refine the system.
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