a flat screen planted in the sand

Benches arranged in a U under a grove of palm trees, a circle of large stones to delimit the hearth and a flat screen 2 meters wide, connected to a satellite antenna: it is from this camp, both rudimentary and luxurious, erected in a stony plain in the north of Qatar, that Abdallah Al-Thani, a thirty-year-old member of the reigning family of the emirate, will follow the matches of the World Cup.

Like many inhabitants of the country, this young entrepreneur, owner of a company importing sports equipment, would not have departed for anything from the tradition that, during the cooler months of the year , Qataris rush into the desert. Some only spend the weekend there, others stay there for whole weeks.

A way for these Gulf Arabs, passed in three generations from the camel to the Porsche and from the mud houses to the marble palaces, to maintain their nomadic roots. “Pitching a tent, fueling a fire, sleeping in the desert, it’s part of my DNAclaims Abdallah. The country is young, Bedouin blood still flows through our veins. “We have a proverb at home, adds Salem Al-Kuwari, a cousin of Abdallah. He who does not know his past has no future. »

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The living room in the middle of nature is set up on family land, where Abdallah has undertaken to build a farm. Stables have already emerged from the ground. They are home to four thoroughbreds with whom the master of the place plans to participate in endurance races. A herd of two hundred sheep should be delivered to him soon and an old well, where blackish water stagnates, is being cleaned. A little further on, Bangladeshi workers, trowel in hand, are busy putting up the walls of a small kitchen, in stone and mortar.

Servants and generator

The place is located not far from the city of Al-Khor, where the opening ceremony of the World Cup is taking place this Sunday, November 20. As darkness sets in, the garland of streetlights on the highway leading to Al-Bayt Stadium, where the inaugural match, Qatar vs Ecuador, is being played, lights up on the horizon. Other lights hatch around, signaling the presence of several other camps.

Purists set up big marquee tents, called “beit shaar” (hair house in Arabic), made of very insulating wool blankets. The most cozy opt for fully equipped caravans, including bedroom, kitchenette and shower room. In any case, the generator and the servants, omnipresent in the life of the wealthy classes in Qatar, are part of the trip.

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