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<span class="t-location">Doha (AFP) - </span>At a time when thorny questions are being asked about Qatar and its hosting of the World Cup, Khalifa Al-Haroun smiles, sighs, and shrugs his shoulders in an attempt to explain its mysteries. </p><div> <p>The 38-year-old, known to a growing number of his followers as Mr. Q, has become a social media post by partially lifting the veil on the small but very wealthy Gulf state which describes itself as a "conservative" Islamic state.
The first edition of the World Cup in an Arab country highlighted Qatar’s treatment of foreign workers, gender rights, and even the use of air conditioners in stadiums.
Aaron’s delightful #QTip videos show off everything from saying “hello” in Arabic to the correct way for men to wear the flowing ghutra headscarf. There is also an edition on workers’ rights.
With less than 60 days to go until the tournament kicks off on November 20, he now has over 100,000 followers on Instagram and over 115,000 on YouTube. And the numbers keep growing.
Qatar has dozens of online influencers on topics ranging from “modest” but expensive fashion, to the latest sports cars being imported into what is now one of the world’s richest countries.
Haroun carved his place by clarifying the unknown in Qatar for the growing expat community – and now the legions of football fans expected for the World Cup.
Haroun – who was born to a Qatari father and a British mother and spent 16 years in Bahrain – said he first encountered global stereotypes about Qatar and the Middle East while studying for a law degree in Britain.
He wanted to become an actor, but instead launched his social media presence in 2008 with a blog.
“I was in a perfect position because I was Qatari and I’ve never lived properly in Qatar,” he said.
trust your eyes
“In essence, I was like a foreigner in my own country and so I had the same questions that foreigners asked, and so it made it easier for me to start gathering information.”
Haroun said a distinction must be made between “negative news” and misinformation about his country.
“When it comes to fake news, obviously, I think everyone understands it’s not true, so the only thing I can do is show people videos and photos and show people what we really like because you trust your eyes.”
He said that some people told him that they decided to move to Qatar after watching his videos.
Haroun, who is now a consultant to the Qatar Football Association and a pioneer in esports, said he is excited about the World Cup “because people can now come here and experience it for themselves and make their own judgments rather than just believe what is written”.
His main protest is how outsiders see something negative about Qatar and then think that all Qataris “accept it or we all agree with it”.
Many supporters of the 31 foreign countries that will play in Qatar have raised concerns about the welcome that awaits them. Can they drink? And what will happen to same-sex couples in a country where homosexuality is illegal?
The government insisted that beer, which is usually restricted, would be available and that everyone was welcome. Haroun wants outsiders to experience “real Qatari hospitality” through the culture of food and coffee.
“Of course there will be certain social norms,” Aaron said. “What we are asking for is just respect for the country. Of course the country will certainly respect everyone who comes.”
“Some people may make mistakes because they don’t know what the rules are and that’s a good thing,” he added.
“The point is, our culture is about intention, and our religion is about intention, so as long as you have good intentions and want to do the right thing, you don’t have to worry.”
© 2022 AFP