We serendipitously received free tickets to watch the Qatar v. Australia game tonight, which wasn’t apparently the hottest ticket in town as there were many empty seats. The result was anticlimactic and the Socceroos advanced to the World Cup with a draw of 0-0.
The more fascinating part of the game was experiencing a Qatari soccer match as an uncovered Western woman. I was wearing khaki slacks and a cap-sleeve shirt (modest by U.S. standards), yet I and my similarly-dressed colleagues engendered all kinds of dirty looks from the arena filled with men dressed in traditional Bisht robes and red-and-white checkered headdresses.
I saw only one non-Western woman (non-Arab women were scant, I saw perhaps two dozen or so in the Qatari fan section of Al Sadd Stadium) and one apparently Arab woman dressed in an abaya and hijab.
Qatar has a fledgling group of women in public policy, and we were told by our male Egyptian guide, a visiting professor at Qatar University, that women in Qatar have “better things” to do than attend a soccer match, such as go shopping or get their nails painted. He said they would be allowed in the stadium but choose not to attend. I’m not sure how accurate that is, considering there’s now a Women’s Football Association in Qatar and female athletes are making a name for themselves on the international stage.