Forward of World Cup, influencer ‘Mr Q’ lifts veil on Qatar

Khalifa Al Haroon, identified to his followers as Mr Q, has turn out to be a social media hit by partially lifting the veil on World Cup host Qatar – Copyright AFP KARIM JAAFAR

Raphaelle Peltier

At a time when prickly questions are being requested about Qatar and its internet hosting of the World Cup, Khalifa Al Haroon affords a smile, a sigh and a shrug as he seeks to elucidate its mysteries.

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Recognized to his rising variety of followers as Mr Q, the 38-year-old has turn out to be a social media hit by partially lifting the veil over the tiny however mega-rich Gulf state that describes itself as a “conservative” Islamic nation.

The primary World Cup in an Arab nation has put a highlight on Qatar’s therapy of international staff, gender rights and even using air con in stadiums.

Haroon’s cheerful #QTip movies broach every part from saying “Hello” in Arabic to the precise means for males to put on the flowing ghutra headdress. There’s additionally an version on labour rights.

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With lower than 60 days to the November 20 begin of the match, he now has greater than 100,000 followers on Instagram and greater than 115,000 on YouTube. And the numbers continue to grow.

Qatar has dozens of on-line influencers on subjects starting from “modest” however costly style, to the newest sports activities automotive being imported into what’s now one of many world’s wealthiest nations.

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Haroon carved out his area of interest by elucidating Qatar’s unknowns to its rising expat neighborhood — and now the hordes of soccer followers anticipated for the World Cup.

Haroon — who was born to a Qatari father and British mom and spent 16 years in Bahrain — stated he was first confronted by international stereotypes about Qatar and the Center East whereas finding out for a legislation diploma in Britain.

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He had wished to turn out to be an actor, however as a substitute launched his social media presence in 2008 with a weblog.

“I was in the perfect position because I was a Qatari who has never lived properly in Qatar,” he stated.

– ‘Trust your own eyes’ –

“In essence, I was like a foreigner in my own country and so I had the same questions that foreigners did, and so it just made it easy for me to start putting together information.”

Haroon stated there must be a distinction between “negative news” and misinformation about his nation.

“When it comes to fake news, obviously, I think everybody understands that it’s not true and so the only thing that I could do is show people videos and pictures and show them what we’re really like because you can trust your own eyes.”

Some folks, he stated, have advised him they determined to maneuver to Qatar after watching his movies.

Haroon, who’s now a guide to the Qatar Soccer Affiliation and an eSports entrepreneur, stated he’s excited in regards to the World Cup “because people can now come here and experience it for themselves and make their own judgements instead of just believing what’s written”.

His predominant grouse is how outsiders see one thing destructive about Qatar after which consider that each one Qataris “accept it or we all agree with it”.

Many supporters of the 31 international nations who will play in Qatar have raised considerations, nevertheless, in regards to the welcome awaiting them. Can they drink? And what’s going to occur to same-sex {couples} in a rustic the place homosexuality is against the law?

The federal government has insisted that beer, usually restricted, might be out there and that everybody is welcome. Haroon desires outsiders to expertise “real Qatari hospitality”, with its meals and occasional tradition.

“Of course there are going to be certain social norms,” stated Haroon. “What we are asking for is just respect the country. And of course the country will definitely be respecting everyone that comes.”

“Some people might make mistakes because they don’t know what the rules are and that’s OK,” he added.

“The point is our culture is all about intention, our religion is about intention, so as long as you have good intentions and you want to do the right thing, you have nothing to worry about.”

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