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Changing QatarCulture, Citizenship, and Rapid Modernization$
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Geoff Harkness

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781479889075

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479889075.001.0001

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Inventing Traditions

Inventing Traditions

The Construction of Sports Culture

(p.93) 3 Inventing Traditions
Changing Qatar

Geoff Harkness

NYU Press

Mega sporting events, including the 2022 FIFA World Cup, align perfectly with Qatar’s economic agenda, which uses athletics as part of its nation-building ambitions. This chapter journeys through several sports worlds in Doha, where low-wage migrant workers are bused to soccer stadiums for televised games, so that it appears that the stands are filled with ardent fans, and where Kenyan runners are granted temporary Qatari citizenship in order to compete as natives. The government has spent a fortune to erect state-of-the-art facilities, host international sporting events, and send athletes to compete globally. Sports are also a primary platform for modern traditionalism’s motif of female empowerment. Despite these efforts, however, rates of women’s athletic participation remain in the single digits. Interviews with players, coaches, and spectators reveal the social processes underlying these dynamics. Finally, the chapter demonstrates how sportswomen overcome barriers to athletic participation by dynamically engaging with modern traditionalism, aligning their sports-related activities with empowerment, Islam, and family values.

Keywords:   Qatar, citizenship, sports, World Cup, soccer, FIFA, 2022

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