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Goans fans experience Arabic culture during World Cup

World Cup fans immerse in Qatari dress with Thobe, Ghutra, and Igal


Doha, Qatar:  Vasco-based Vishal Agapurkar always wanted to slip into the traditional Arabic dress as and when the opportunity came his way. After waiting for a few years, the World Cup in Qatar presented him with the perfect platform to try out a few things from cuisine to the local dresses.

Taking the adage, a step further, Vishal and his friends all Portugal supporters bought a Ghutra and Igal at Souq Waqif with traditional colours of green and red, a popular traditional market and after some expert help from the shop assistants managed to wear the Ghutra and Igal, the headgear which along with Thobe, the long full garment is one of the traditional dress of men in the Arabic world especially in the Middle East countries.

The Ghutra worn on the head is tied around the head, the cap is known as the Kahfiyah, and the Ighal is draped over the Ghutra. Igal is to prevent the Ghutra from blowing away in the wind. Igal is a thick ring of cotton. A thread or string is tied around it. Igal, meaning rope, is part of the traditional Arab headdress. Igal is used above the head-dress called Ghutra and above the cap called Kafiyah.

“All Igals are almost identical. The main difference will be in the yarn used. Nylon, cotton or goat and camel hair. The best Igal is made of sheep hair. Most of them are imported from Turkey, Brazil and other countries. But the finest sheep's hair comes from England,” said one Bangladeshi shop assistant working at a shop selling traditional dress.

Shops in and around Qatar are not selling Kahfiyah and a Qatari shop owner explains why they are not selling it.

“The Kahfiyah is a cap which is worn by people who wear the headgear for a long period time as it helps in absorbing the sweat,” explains, Khalifa Abdul Hakim Al Naimi, owner of an Ghutra Mundo enterprise which sells the traditional headgear at five different locations during the world Cup.

 Naimi and his shop support staff have been helping thousands of fans to have the uniqueness of the Arabic world and helping them to move into the traditional gear.

Traditional belief is that the headscarf helps to ward off the heat from the desert sun and also protects from the dust.

“The head gear was used by our ancestors to protect us Arabs from the heat of the sun and from the wind, and also from the dust. I'm trying to mix the Arabic culture and customs and teach the World Cup fans something about Qatar,” said Al Naimi.

“It's (the head gear) part of our culture, but we are blending it with the countries that are competing in the World Cup. So for Brazil the Ghutra, Igal and Thob match the colors, so yellow, blue and green represent Brazil. and also we have the Brazilian flag, but it's usually plain without any names or without any letters. We have Portugal, Morocco, Mexico.”

“We have different colors for all different flags. South Korea, Brazil, Senegal, Ghana, Uruguay, Portugal, Denmark, Serbia, all teams which are competing in the FIFA 22 Qatar World Cup.”

Explaining further he says: “We have plain clothes just like what I am wearing which is white, so we don't want to put any names on the Thobe.”

 Al Nuami says the original Arabic culture and dress is kept intact by generations.

“Besides the white Thobe we have different coloured Thobe. We wear colorful tubes in winter as well. In the winter, you can also see the black Thobe, the brown Thope and the gray top stripes. But it's usually plain without any names or without any letters. So that's what we try to do. So yellow and blue and yellow and green represent Brazil. We have. Even heard him represent Portugal, representing Morocco, Mexico united with the corresponding battle.”

The Qatari through his enterprise is helping many people to have a firsthand experience of Qatar culture and traditions and the head gear and one of them. 

Just like Vishal, many Indians and other nationalities are making a mad rush to Souq Wafiq metro station shop trying to buy World Cup memorabilia. 

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