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

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

Identified to his rising variety of followers as Mr Q, the 38-year-old has turn into 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 overseas staff, gender rights and even using air-con in stadiums.


Haroon’s cheerful #QTip movies broach all the pieces from saying “Hiya” in Arabic to the suitable method for males to put on the flowing ghutra headdress. There’s additionally an version on labour rights.

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 matters starting from “modest” however costly vogue, to the newest sports activities automotive being imported into what’s now one of many world’s wealthiest nations.


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 — mentioned he was first confronted by international stereotypes about Qatar and the Center East whereas learning for a legislation diploma in Britain.


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

“I used to be within the excellent place as a result of I used to be a Qatari who has by no means lived correctly in Qatar,” he mentioned.


– ‘Belief your personal eyes’ –

“In essence, I used to be like a foreigner in my very own nation and so I had the identical questions that foreigners did, and so it simply made it straightforward for me to begin placing collectively info.”

Haroon mentioned there must be a distinction between “destructive information” and misinformation about his nation.

“On the subject of pretend information, clearly, I believe everyone understands that it is not true and so the one factor that I may do is present folks movies and photos and present them what we’re actually like as a result of you possibly can belief your personal eyes.”

Some folks, he mentioned, have informed 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, mentioned he’s excited in regards to the World Cup “as a result of folks can now come right here and expertise it for themselves and make their very own judgements as a substitute of simply believing what’s written”.

His predominant grouse is how outsiders see one thing destructive about Qatar after which imagine that each one Qataris “settle for it or all of us agree with it”.

Many supporters of the 31 overseas international locations who will play in Qatar have raised issues, nonetheless, 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 illegitimate?

The federal government has insisted that beer, usually restricted, will probably be accessible and that everybody is welcome. Haroon desires outsiders to expertise “actual Qatari hospitality”, with its meals and occasional tradition.

“In fact there are going to make certain social norms,” mentioned Haroon. “What we’re asking for is simply respect the nation. And naturally the nation will certainly be respecting everybody that comes.”

“Some folks may make errors as a result of they do not know what the principles are and that is OK,” he added.

“The purpose is our tradition is all about intention, our faith is about intention, so so long as you may have good intentions and also you need to do the suitable factor, you don’t have anything to fret about.”

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