Doha, Qatar – When Andrea M set off from New York to observe Group USA’s journey on the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, she reassured her family and friends that she wouldn’t do something dangerous in the course of the match.
What she had examine Qatar painted an alarming image of the host nation.
“The US media’s portrayal of the Center East has been very completely different from what I’ve skilled right here,” Andrea, 29, informed Al Jazeera, including that her associates determined towards travelling to Qatar.
Andrea stated is glad she got here. “Easy issues like taking a stroll across the metropolis late at evening, that’s one thing I can’t do again house.”
A 10pm (19:00 GMT) kickoff time for most of the group stage matches and knockout video games imply that followers exit stadiums, use public transport and have fun in fan zones nicely previous midnight. And girls, in teams or on their very own, are watching soccer at public screenings, singing and dancing with different followers and shifting round with out worrying about their security. In accordance with the Numbeo Crime Index, Doha routinely ranks because the most secure – or the second-safest – metropolis on this planet.
For Pleasure Nkuna, the expertise has been a stark distinction to her house nation South Africa, which ranks as among the many most harmful international locations for girls travellers. “We’ve very excessive crime charges in my nation, particularly towards girls,” she stated. In accordance with current authorities figures, greater than 1,000 girls had been murdered in South Africa in a three-month interval between the beginning of July and the top of September.
Nkuna, 39, stated she doesn’t enterprise out alone previous sundown in her nation. “From the minute it will get darkish, girls can’t be out alone or they are going to be in peril,” she stated. “Right here, me and my daughter walked round at 3am and no person intimidated us, catcalled us or checked out us in a manner that might make us really feel unsafe.”
It’s an expertise that Tatiana Lopez can relate to. Thirty-three-year-old Brazil fan Lopez, who has travelled from Colombia with two different girls, stated males in public locations have been very courteous. “Whereas it’s unusual to see extra males in public locations (in comparison with girls) than I’m used to seeing in Colombia, they’ve all been very respectful.”
Lopez stated she has been having fun with the match with out worrying about her belongings, which is one thing she’s not used to again house. “I can truly carry my backpack on my again, and maintain my telephone in my pocket as a result of I do know no person will snatch it from me.”
Girls who’ve been residing in Qatar stated security will not be a brand new phenomenon linked to the World Cup.
Khadija Suleiman, a 32-year-old Ethiopian who has been residing in Qatar for 10 years, was on the Lusail Stadium for a 10pm kickoff just lately together with her three youngsters and two nieces. “I don’t really feel the have to be with a person with the intention to really feel protected,” she stated as she walked in direction of the stadium.
To make sure, safety presence has elevated in Qatar due to the World Cup. However Suleiman stated that girls’s and youngsters’s security in public locations has by no means been a priority for her whereas within the nation. “If I have to, I can ship my youngsters to high school in a taxi and never fear about their security.”
That confidence is shared by girls from different elements of the Gulf area, lots of whom have been capable of take part within the Center East’s biggest-ever sporting extravaganza with out worry.
Dalia Abushullaih has travelled to Qatar from Saudi Arabia and stated she is overjoyed to see girls celebrating in public areas. “Qatar has made certain that girls really feel protected and cozy in being an lively a part of the match and luxuriate in freely,” the 29-year-old stated. “The world is lastly witnessing our lovely Arab tradition, and it’s lovely to see folks taking all of it in and going again house with part of it.”
Other than the stadiums, girls and youngsters have thronged vacationer areas comparable to Doha’s Souq Waqif and fan zones unfold everywhere in the metropolis. Some arrive in the course of the day as festivities are getting began, whereas others push by means of the crowds with strollers to hitch the post-match celebrations.
The choice by organisers to bar alcohol gross sales in or close to the match venues has additionally added to the boldness of many ladies that attending video games received’t compromise their security.
Camilla Ferrierra, a match volunteer from Brazil, stated understanding that she received’t be surrounded by drunk followers on the stadiums made her really feel safer.
“I may by no means think about going to a soccer match alone [in Brazil],” she informed Al Jazeera. “I can’t think about being exterior late at evening, utilizing my telephone in public with out worry and simply having the ability to take pleasure in a stroll or a soccer match. Right here, I really feel 100% protected and that’s an important factor for us girls: to have the ability to benefit from the festivities and soccer in a protected and safe method.”
Hanoof Abdullah, a Kuwaiti soccer fan, sat by herself in the midst of 1000’s of Brazilian followers on the Lusail Stadium. She stated Arab households would have discovered it troublesome to remain out at evening in the event that they knew alcohol was being served.
“Qatar has proven the world that soccer could be loved with out alcohol, and girls can take pleasure in it with out fearing for his or her security,” she stated. “The bar has been set very excessive, and now the world should work very onerous to match it.”
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