It’s 21:30 and Mohamed, slumped on a leather ottoman, in the middle of the cricket stadium in the industrial area of Doha, doesn’t feel like going to bed. His alarm goes off in less than six hours. Like every day of the week, at 4 in the morning, he will have to be driving his paver, in one of the construction sites in the Qatari capital.
But this Saturday, November 19, the Pakistani from a village near Peshawar, with a shaggy beard and a cap on his head, cannot take his eyes off the giant screen erected in the middle of the field. There, a series of Indian dance and rap clips are broadcast, with charming dancers and bad boy muscular, in a deluge of special effects and decibels. “It’s the first time I’ve seen such a thing”, confesses the stunned forty-year-old.
This Bollywood-style show, organized the day before the opening of the World Cup, marked the inauguration of the fan-zone intended for migrant workers in Doha, in the southwest of the capital. Like foreign fans – who gather in Al-Bidda Park, near the corniche – migrant workers, who make up almost 90% of the country’s three million inhabitants, have the opportunity to attend the cricket matches organized by this stadium . Between broadcasts, these viewers can also play football on the mini-pitch or refresh themselves at the café.
On Wednesday evening, thousands of workers watched Spain’s show of force against Costa Rica from the stands and lawn of the stadium. “I ran after my serve, says Islam, a Bangladeshi, head of the maintenance team at the government hospital in Hamad. The screen is gigantic, it allows you to follow the actions well. The atmosphere was excellent. »
“A vital but sick organ of Doha”
With its clamor, booming sound system and lighting effects, the Fan Zone introduces a bit of World Cup fever to the usually desolate and neglected suburb of Doha. A labyrinth of factories, workshops, warehouses and workers’ dormitories; parking for bulldozers, tankers and forklifts… the industrial area, populated exclusively by men, is the engine room of Qatar. The place that no one sees, but from which everyone benefits: invisible and essential.
It’s clogged with sand and dust when the rest of the city exudes maniacal cleanliness. Built horizontally in a country that prides itself on its skyscrapers, the industrial area is the negative of West Bay, the business district with hypermodern towers; behind the glittering backdrop sold in World Cup promo videos. “It is one of Doha’s vital organs, but it is a diseased organ”says Mustafa Qadri, director of the NGO Equidem, which specializes in defending workers’ rights. The Qatari authorities did not respond to the request for a reaction from the World.
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