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Emerging Qatar beyond World Cup and Middle East

After showcasing “the best World Cup ever” according to Gianni Infantino – the president of FIFA, Qatar is moving forward to achieve further goals in other fields.

Qatar welcomed and entertained more than 1.2 million football fans from around the world with dignity, integrity and Arab-Muslim values. Qatar is a tiny nation with 2.9 million populations which of 2.6 million are foreign workers.

Even before the World Cup, Qatar was a significantly risingpower in the Middle-East since the political dynamics shifted after Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed blockade without warning on 05 June, 2017. Saudi Arabia just lifted the blockade to end the rift.

The main reason for the Saudi-led blockade was due to tensions between these neighboring countries with Saudi accusing Qatar for taking an independent foreign policy. According to a number of political analysts, Pakistan’s democratically elected Imran Khan was also ousted for the same reason. Imran Khan had previously signed an agreement on trade, investment and tourism with Qatar, seen to be independent policy apparently a move away from Saudi Arabia.

Al-Jazeera, Qatar’s state media was upfront in covering the 2011 Arab Spring that ended 40 years of Egypt’s military rule.However, the dream of democracy ended with the tragedy of Mohamed Morsi, with Al-Jazeera shut down in Egypt, therelationship between Qatar and Egypt deteriorated and thiscontinued with Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain exiling Qatar from their circle.

However, this embargo concreted Qatar’s bilateral relationshipwith two other heavyweights in the region and Muslim world, Turkey and Iran. Qatar leveraged this relationship to politically empower itself and emerged into a remarkable power in the Arab-Muslim world.  Earlier GCC had announced that they were severing ties with Qatar.

Qatar’s political clout continued to increase beyond the region particularly after the Doha accord that ended decades of US occupation in Afghanistan.  Qatar’s efforts not only managed to reach peace in Afghanistan but Arab League’s praises as wellproved Qatar’s soft power was emerging beyond the Arab world. The Muslim world’s search for leadership which had begun to shift away from Saudi Arabia is now looking to Qatar.

According to Export Development Canada, Qatar is one of the highest per capita income and lowest unemployment rate in the world while GDP growth over 10.7% has been on the increase since 2008. This will definitely attract international investors, new businesses and tourism enabling further brighter future for this tiny nation.

After successfully overcoming the accusation and marginalization by Islamophobic media focused to humiliate Qatar before and during the World Cup 2022, Qatar’s pragmatic and steadfast approach won the hearts of millions both those who came to Qatar to watch and those watched from their home countries, one of the greatest sporting event that changed the misunderstanding and propaganda against Islam and about Qatar in particular.

Palestinian flags fly high at the World Cup in Qatar, has received stronger recognition, opportunity and backing space for the issue of Palestine.  With the entire world watching, the ignored Palestinians were remembered by huge numbers of football fans waving Palestinian flags inside and out of stadiums, showing Arab unity and Muslim solidarity for the Palestinian cause. Post World Cup Qatar seeks Olympic gold, sports diplomacy through emerging soft power beyond Arab world.  So far Qatar’sperformance has proven its potential for leadership in the Muslim world where currently exists a vacuum.

If Qatar continues to do what they have been doing so far leading the Arab Muslim world. They will achieve the leadership role as the socio-political environment is just right.

Written by Hanif Bismi

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