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July 2021

Qatar, the Emirates, Disneyworld, football, religion, heat


Many football aficionados are mystified about Qatar and how it ¨won¨ the 2022 WC bidding, as well as FIFA’s seemingly incestuous relationship with these people. Having lived and worked in the Middle East, I know a little about how the social and economic dicta are applied there:

1) The Qataris, like the other major Arab tribes, usually have 5-6 major families who hold the real power, including the royal family (the Al-Thani) from among whom the Emir (ruler) is selected. the Emir is a prince, since the only true King is from the Al-Saad family in Saudi Arabia, the protector of Mecca and Medina and the Muslim heritage and Holy sites.

2) These families have what is called ¨wasta¨ ( Arabic: wasata) or our equivalent. It is an Arabic word that loosely translates into Nepotism or ‘clout’ or ‘who you know’. It refers to using one’s connections to advance your fortunes….and is exclusive to the rich and powerful, especially the royal family.

3) Individuals and groups with wasta can pretty well do what they want with impunity. If they hire workers from poor countries (usually in Asia) or from 1st world countries, they hold their passports until the hiring contract is terminated. You can be shipped out of these Middle Eastern countries within 24 hours at the whim of a disgruntled rich person who has a grudge against you or who is being challenged by you or who dislikes your face.

4) The court system is almost entirely run by these same people, and if the accused has wasta, he or she can be absolutely certain of avoiding prosecution. If you don’t then you are guilty, whether you are the accuser or the the accused.

5) Under these circumstances, it is no surprise that Blatter is cow-towing to the Emir and his cronies. These Middle Eastern kingdoms (Kuwait,Qatar, UAE, etc.) are the Disneyworld of the region and have no connection with occidental or even oriental values, modern reality or systems of justice.

6) To add insult to injury, many of the workers come from non-Muslim countries and they are regarded as inferior both culturally and religiously, particularly If they are Christians. Since Jews aren’t allowed into these countries openly, then 3rd class is reserved for everyone else.

7) Basically the hierarchy of power and influence (like an unadvertised caste system) goes like this; the Royal Family – top dogs, the founding families or those related to the Al-Thani, untouchable, the average Muslim Qatari, safe and secure, the hired professionals and few non-Muslim Qataris (engineers,teachers, administrators, doctors etc.) tolerated but distrusted, the illiterate Muslim or non-Muslim ex-pats doing menial and manual labour – totally at the mercy of their Qatari ¨benefactors¨ and regarded as remunerated but indentured servants.

8) Islam and the Qu’ran teaches that our destiny is pre-determined and that whatever happens to us cannot be changed by our will but only by the will of Allah. Therefore both good and/or terrible things that happen to people are decided by Allah. Thus, whatever misfortune happens to the workers and lowly ex-pats is Allah’s will and therefore exonerates the Muslim proprietor or owner from any responsibility for this tragedy. Since non-Muslims (Infidels) are considered innately inferior to Muslims because they haven’t accepted Allah’s will (by not becoming Muslim)then they can be treated as such by the true believer.

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9) Average  summer temperatures in Qatar can reach 41-50 degrees C in the day and 35-37 degrees C after sunset. The humidity can vary but usually is around 45- 64% at this time of year. What is worrying is that the summer temperatures are increasingly hotter (perhaps due to global warming). Last year they were 5 degrees higher than in 2008 and beat all recorded records. What will they be like in 2022?

10) Until oil was discovered, the Qatari were a nomadic and fishing culture, as well as known for their pearl divers and their shepherds. Now that they are among the wealthiest people in the Middle East, they have developed a ¨culture¨ of believing that money buys anything, including FIFA. It seems they are certainly correct in that assumption.

I call these Gulf states, the Disneyland of the Middle East because when one lives and works there, ordinary reality and occidental concepts like justice, equity, verbal and social freedom and protection under the Law don’t necessarily apply.  The US and many European countries treat these monarchies with kid gloves since their stranglehold on oil resources and their strategic importance for the ¨New World order¨ bely their tiny influence and size. Blatter is simply another carpetbagger come to suck at the teat of the golden cow that is Qatar.

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38 comments to Qatar, the Emirates, Disneyworld, football, religion, heat

  • Mahmood

    I am absolutely appalled of what was just been published in this respectable pro – Arsenal site. I agree with you that Qatar shouldn’t get the rights to host the World Cup because of realities of the weather conditions alone, but to read such xenophobic garbage is utterly disgraceful. I am from the Gulf states and I can tell you your “insights” are nothing but anecdotes that one can pick up from a drunken conversation at a bar. I truly hope that Untold revises McMahon ‘ s writing privileges because this site has a certain elegance and class to it, not just watered down and deeply offensive remarks.

  • Yassin


    I was about to comment here saying that i am from midde east, and i lived in UAE, and u are spot on, until I read about your interpretation of the Islam religion.

    I dont understand what is it so bad about Islam that no one can accept it, yes everything is determined by Allah (God), which other religions in the world have the same meaning in the word faith ( we call it Qadar in arabic). This doesnt permit any muslim to treat any other being from any other religion as inferior, they must treat everyone with total respect as stated in the Quraan u refered to.

    Now the treatment of the royal families in these countries have nothing relates to Islam, they do it because they are full of arrogance. I dont want to go into details how we felt that people from Europe and America were treated much better than us Arabs and Muslims from other regions, in those gulf area, but believe me its a disgrace.

    Just like you on untold defend the rights of all people including their religions, I have been here for about 3 years, and i felt insulted by what you wrote. I dont care about Qatar and their Royal family, but dont push religion into this.



    I’m from the UK, support Arsenal and now reside in Qatar, previously in Al Khobar, saudi Arabia. I work in the Oil Industry, mid level. Most Saudis and Qatari’s I meet, have met are polite and basicaly ‘respectful’ of my ‘Western culture’. I dont think the weather will be a great issue in 2022 if the dates are adjusted either side of the summer. Doesnt have to be the winter months. Thankfully though, I have a Western passport so have not gone through what others from mid, eastern asia may have to deal with

  • nicky

    Until an alternative power derivative to Near East oil can be found, I’m afraid that kowtowing in some shape or form to that part of the world will continue. Riches beyond avarice are an added attraction but oil is the master and there are no signs of it running out.

  • colario


    I am interested in your comments on Islam. I wonder if you would be interested in a friendly and I mean friendly chat in Facebook or a site of your choice?

  • Yassin


    Its a pleasure, just name the site.


    Its not the oil the problem there, its the governing family which takes all the intake fron the oil as if its theirs, leaving all others with little gain from.

    As an example, Manchester City is bought by the son of Abu Dhabi Amir, his money should be UAE or Abu Dhabi money, but he use it for his own pleasure. Thats why he waste it with no regret, its not his own.

    Another is the Qatar ( note that Qatar and UAE are challenging each other in the middle east, they are not two faces of one coin, although they are alike) use the money the government should use in good cause just for fun, and I assure u the World cup wil not gain anything to Qatar financially, the costs, including the stadiums ( to be AC conditioned, imagine how much power they need) and the bribing of Fifa costs much more than they would gain. The only reason is the challenge to show that they can do it, just like the formula one in dubai before.

    Don up there really was spot on when he talked about those so called royal families…

  • colario

    Ok do u have face book? We can start there. You will find me as charles veritie put untold in the message and i will know its u. I get calls for friendship but I don’t respond unless I know the name.

  • OMGArsenal

    Yassin….Salam aliakum! I meant no disrespect to you or Islam, a religion I hold in high esteem. However, I saw the mistreatment of Coptic Egyptians, Muslin Indonesians and other Asians/Indians on a regular basis, both in Qatar and Kuwait, as well as the UAE. The Quraan does prohibit mistreatment of other Muslims by fellow Muslims BUT, like every religious text, it is regularly ignored by its adherents.
    My intent was not to explain the abuses publicly acknowledged in Qatar by using a religious argument so if that is how it sounded, my apologies. I wished to highlight that these arrogant abusers are ignoring their own rules(both social and religious)and that FIFA and Blatter are complicit in this and actually condone it by their lack of action or any effort to seek redress for the abused.
    It is curious that you would say that you understand that Islam requires absolute obedience to Allah but that other religions do as well. In that you are incorrect, as Christianity and Judaism maintain that our destiny is in our own hands and that one can influence our fate by both deeds and words. We do acknowledge that God’s Will is essentially a superior force to ours BUT we also say that we have free choice to determine how we behave. It is also interesting that you feel ex-pats are better treated than locals, at least in the UAE. Perhaps that is so, I cannot verify that from my direct experiences in the Middle East BUT I can can tell you that the cheap labour imported into the Gulf States know neither fairness or security when faced with the overwhelming might of the State and the Families.

  • The font

    Definition. Of cheap. Labour DB 10

  • nicky

    With respect, without the oil the governing family wouldn’t have the power that it has.
    The world’s sole attraction for the Near East is its oil…nothing else.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Thanks Don, very informative and pretty disturbing….and FIFA tell us football is a force for good worldwide. I am sure if hitler, Mr G Khan, or Stalin was still around Blatter would be gimping out in their presence offering the WC and probably other favours that I don’t really want to think about. I know you have to be careful what you wish for but the sooner someone has the balls and power to break away from FIFA EUFA the better. When the time comes, I hope England have nothing to do with it for the sake of credibility of the game, the well being of the foreign workers there, and the players expected to play in these temperatures. Maybe a job nearer the time for some clever health and safety lawyers?

  • Yassin

    OMG Arsenal,

    Thanks for yoyr kind response and clarification, I know you meant no direct insult to my religion, but I believe the media has put a huge gap between us and others that sometimes i had to clarify.
    I didnt mean to sound mean in my tone, and if i did i apologize.
    As for the cheap labor, i 100% agree with you they are mistreated, but its weather they are muslims ( some from Pakistan and Indonesia), or other religions. And that is not acceptable in Islam as much as in humanity. Yes they were badly mistreated more than us middle easters, I was reffering to Europe and Americans, and that doesnt mean they are treated better.
    As for the requirement in Islam for full obedience to Allah, yes agree, and thanks for clarifying on the christanity and jewism point of view, lack of knowledge from my part i believe. But this believe in Islam doesnt take away responsibilty from those in government to protect people in their country as possible as they can, yes we believe its Gods will that this man is going to die in specific time and date, but that doesnt take away responsibilty from those above if its their fault, which in the cases of Qatar stadium building it is. In Islam its the hardest job to take is being a governer, cause 100% justice shall be achieved.

    Anyway thanks Don, I wasnt trying to write in aggressive tone, and I apologize if it sounded so, I read your past articles, and I know your way of thinking, and I knew you didnt mean to have anything against Islam, just a clarification I had to give.

  • Mandy Dodd

    I do not claim know whether global warming is man made or not, but the practices of these oil rich regimes and the western governments and agencies like FIFA shamelessly grovelling to them provide the best of reasons for reducing dependence on fossil fuels….cold fusion anyone?

  • Yassin


    The west are gaining from this fuel even more than the near east does, but its only the companies that are gaining, huge ones, while people like me and you, gets nothing.

    The cheap labor mentioned above, are employed by both, arab and western contractors, so both are responsible, but i dont want to get into this debate cause I believe Qatar should provide safety for those poor people leaving their countries and families for little money.

    And yes you are right, the sole attraction is Oil, and when its gone, they are all gone

  • Yassin


    Am sorry for noy responding yet, but I have been trying and I can’t find you on facebook, I cant find someone under the name mentioned above.Strange

  • bjtgooner

    One of the great things about Arsenal is that fans of all races, religions and creeds are welcome, so it is very important that the religious persuasions of all fans are respected.

    Where it gets difficult is that politics, religion and human greed/over ambition can get very intertwined – and the destructive consequences of human greed and irresponsibility can on occasion be attributed, wrongly, to religion.

    Blatter, a total disgrace in many respects, has blatantly let his personal greed and ambition mislead football into a very hot and sticky blind alley.

  • fraz

    If u are saying that the world cup shud be revoked frm Qatar , I support it. Yes there are problems. But to attribute those problems to islam is just plain unacceptable. What you say about the concept of fate in Islam is also juvenile, to describe it mildly. The concept of qadr or destiny in islam is far more complicated. So much so that even great scholars like Al ghazali have refrained from speaking about it. Also, Islam doesnt support slavery. In fact freeing of a bondsman is one of the greatest deed u can do in Islam. I would bot like to vo into the atrocities that have been commited in the name of christianity over the past centuries. However, this islamophobia is just ‘to quote untold- a negative bias” against Islam

  • fraz

    Not like to go*

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ bjtgooner – Agreed. You’ve written what was going through my mind, only much better !
    The guys here have been very respectful in their discussion as well as being enlightening.
    For me religion is a very personal thing ,and I never try to preach nor influence others .I understand that there are certain questions which are beyond me and hopefully the answers will be revealed in due time .
    To each man his own .Everyone will for most part find his own path to his creator .

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Before the Pearly Gates…

    A man finds himself in front of the Pearly Gates to heaven. In front of them, stands a guardian angel. As the man approaches, the angel greets him and warns him it is not so easy to get in heaven. There are some criteria before entry is allowed.

    For example, was the fellow religious in life? No? The guardian angel told him that’s bad.

    Was he generous? give money to the poor? Charities? No? The guardian angel told him that that too was bad.

    Did he do any good deeds? Help his neighbor? Anything? No? The guardian angel was becoming concerned.

    Exasperated, the angel says, “Look, everybody does something nice sometime. Work with me, I’m trying to help. Now think!”

    The man says, “There was this old lady. I came out of a store and found her surrounded by a dozen Hell’s Angels. They had taken her purse and were shoving her around, taunting and abusing her.

    I got so mad I threw my bags down, fought through the crowd, and got her purse back. I then helped her to her feet. I then went up to the biggest, baddest biker and told him how despicable, cowardly and mean he was and then spat in his face”.

    “Wow”, said the angel, “That’s actually very impressive. When did this happen”?

    “Oh, about 10 minutes ago”, replied the man

  • colario


    I’m sorry about that. I don’t why you are having probs with Charles Veritie on face book. If you haven’t done so cut and paste from here to there. If that doesn’t work, then should make it.

  • gouresh

    this article has been written on Qatar winning the rights to hold the WC under dubious conditions and the working conditions of the workers, the absolute power of the ruling family which basically follows the Sharia law. you lot are turning this into some sort of anti Muslim agenda. whats wrong with you lot?

  • colario

    There are many Yassin’s in face which one are you?

  • PJ

    Don, Tony or Walter, This is my humble request: Please erase no. 8 from the list. It is not the Islam point of view. I’m muslim and I’m Indonesian.

  • Shakabula Gooner

    It is surely a tough thing to untangle the practice of a religion from the precepts of the religion. If it isn’t such a huge problem we wouldn’t have citizens and groups in Islamic countries agitating with all their might against respective practices of the Islamic faith, without denying their allegiance to the faith – as is the case in the Western world wherein major planks of the agitations took place a few centuries ago to the point that Christian monarchies were overthrown and civil governance became separated from religious life and practices.
    In my view, it is better to respect and acknowledge the internal struggles wish them the best and where the opportunity presents itself to act in a way that help the struggles, to do so. I think keeping the world opinion focused on the plight of immigrant workers in Qatar employed in various aspects of the country’s preparation for the 2022 elections is a good case in point.
    However, we must do this, firmly believing that NO FAITH supports injustice or ought to do so. As well as that if the “keepers of the faith” act unjustly, it is them, not their faith, that is in the wrong. It is very important to focus on these distinctions whether in the Economist or in Untold. See, just put the Untold on the same pedestal with the Economist – which I rate as the best international magazine or discussion platform to come out weekly from the UK

  • Brickfields Gunners

    An admirable poem of yore to the humble menial worker .

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Roman Slave Driver

    The slave driver of the Roman trireme leered down at his galley slaves and bellowed, “I’ve got some good news and some bad news.
    The good news is that you’ll be getting double rations tonight!”
    The murmuring of the surprised slaves as they struggled with their oars was interrupted by the slave driver.
    “The bad news is that this afternoon the commander’s son wants to water-ski.”

  • Oliver

    You start out okay, but you slip in to some unwarranted Islamobashing.
    Not impressed, to be honest.

  • Ben

    Please can someone post an article on Wenger’s reply on the situation in Qatar?

  • Malaysiangooner

    I agree with pj, please erase point no 8. Im a muslim myself. If you want to comment on a islam you should read about whats in the quran rather than what the qatari and saudis muslims are practicing. Peace be upon you.

  • Yassin

    Apologies but i didnt have internet access until now, am Yassin Sharab, hope this work.

    We didnt try to make the article anti-islamic, we only talked about one point we didnt agree with, then we have the right to defend our religion view and show the irrelavnce between those families and Islam belives. In addition, no, the Islamic shareia is not practiced in any of these countries, except a little in KSA, and what they do is not related to Islam in anyway. I would like you to do a research about Islamic Nation in the past (khilafa) and see what it was, and you will be surprised how those families, and other terrorists out there have to do nothing with Islam, except the name and the beard.

    All other muslims in untold,
    No i disagree, point 8 should not be deleted, there was no direct insult to Islam, just a wrong thought the writer, which created a good debate, and may lead in the future to more connections between us muslim gooners and gooners from other religions… Just point at the wrong, correct, comment, and Don was really polite in his response ( as he always is) so no need to delete what opened what seems to be a door that wss locked between muslims and others since 9/11.

  • Sammy The Snake

    This may be mostly true for Qatar, but it is a very exaggerated version of the truth for UAE. I’ve lived here for a good 32 years, and I should know.

  • OMGArsenal

    PJ, MalayasianGooner, Oliver, fraz and any other UA blogger that takes umbrage at what point 8 maintains (which is NOT anti-Islamic or anti- Muslim) the only editing I will accept is that of Tony and Walter. If they say they want point 8 removed, I will accede to their editorial nous.
    I am an Islamophile and having lived in the Middle East, can easily discern the difference between what the Qu’Raan preaches and what the rich,spoilt royals and families actually do, which is the gist of point 8.
    Sammy the Snake, I am sure your experience of the UAE is different than mine was in Kuwait and Qatar. That only proves my point, that some of the Gulf States like Kuwait and Qatar have issues with their manual labour ex-pats, others don’t. I refuse to believe that Islam tolerates such abuse of fellow Muslims or other non-muslims and that is what this post says as well.
    There are 10 points I presented but it seems that only one has caught your attention. Oliver….you are way out of bounds suggesting that I am Islamobashing, which is your cheap attempt to gain bonus points with our Muslim readers. I don’t know what your knowledge and experience provides but it doesn’t entitle you to judge me or others. Yassin seems to have got it right….is he the only one who actually read the post with an open mind?
    If you guys want to debate the relative merits of the Qu’Raan and other religious viewpoints, then I suggest that this is not the forum to engage in that perfectly valuable dialogue….maybe you can find that forum on the net?

  • sukebe

    Wow, i don’t believe religion based hate article gets to published here….

    And i thought this is a positive football blog.

  • OMGArsenal

    Sukebe….this article was about Qatar and corruption in their WC 2022 dealings, NOT about religion or hating anyone, neither of which has any place on the UA agenda.
    However, if in your limited world view and overt negativism, it makes you feel justified and better at accusing us of anti-religious sentiments, then please do justify yourself with real proof and not your ill-considered and lazy innuendo…..that is, if you can actually get past your blind slogans and crippled criticism to defend your point of view.
    By the way,Yassin has clearly and intelligently laid out what the issue was and put it to bed, if you ask him politely he may do the same for you….but ask your mommie first please.

  • Alli

    Your Point 8 wuldn’t have been flawed if, the Quran and Islam were in quote. That way, people will understand it’s an innuendo towards the royal family but the way you put it suggests u were sure that’s what Islam entails. Since you’ve said you never meant to lambast Islam, people shuld jst move on. As regards believing in Allah’s will, it’s for the eventuality after one might have tried to be beter.