IT was a pleasant sight to see Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani himself honouring football legend Lionel Messi at the recent World Cup after the historic win by Argentina. When the emir placed the customary Arab robe on Messi, it was a grand gesture of the glorification of Messi, his team, and his country.
The traditional robe, called bisht, with which Messi was honoured is made out of light material with an adornment of gold. Bisht is regarded as a symbol of high status in Arab culture and is worn by dignitaries. When offered to someone, it is a sign of prodigious admiration.
Qatar deserves unqualified appreciation for elegantly organising the grand event without any compromise under any pressure. Besides, the king of the state honouring the king of World Cup 2022 was certainly symbolic of inter-cultural bridging.
Showing respect to someone for an achievement, irrespective of ethnicity and religion, is a norm of civilisation, and the world watched with sheer surprise how the joy was shared. It is a step forward to breaking cultural barriers and stressing that the World Cup is for fun and friendship.
We must also appreciate Messi, not only a great sportsman but also a wonderful human being, who showed no hesitation and consented to accept the bisht even before picking up the World Cup.
Long live football! Long live world peace!
Dr Intikhab Ulfat
Published in Dawn, January 4th, 2023