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World Cup fervour reaches fever pitch in Amman after Saudi win

Cafés cash in on month-long int’l sporting event

By Mays Ibrahim Mustafa - Nov 23,2022 - Last updated at Nov 23,2022

Fans of the Saudi national football team, the Green Falcons, are seen celebrating the historic 2-1 win against Argentina in the FIFA World Cup match in Qatar on the streets of Amman on Tuesday evening (Photo by Osama Aqarbeh)

AMMAN — Since the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 kicked off on Sunday, the Kingdom has been gripped with the thrill of the game, as both football fans and non-enthusiasts look to enjoy the atmosphere of the matches with their loved ones.

On Tuesday, Saudi expatriates were seen celebrating their team’s win in the streets of Amman, cheering, playing their national music and extending Saudi Arabian flags. 

Jordanians similarly basked in their neighbouring country’s historic 2-1 win over Argentina. 

Sarah Jalabneh, a Jordanian fan of Argentina’s Messi, switched her loyalty to Saudi Arabia during the match. 

“The team’s performance was just incredible. They played well and thrilled all of the Arab countries by scoring our first win in the World Cup. My joy for that [win] far exceeded the sadness I felt for Messi’s loss,” the 25-year-old, who is following the matches at home with her mother and two sisters, told The Jordan Times. 

Jordan’s café owners are also enthusiastic about this global event which is helping their businesses bloom. 

They have geared up their shops, screening the games in order to welcome football enthusiasts. During the month-long matches businesses are enticing sports fans with attractive discounts, storefronts decked out in flags with photos of players decorating walls. 

Mustafa Khalifa, who manages a café in Amman, said that some days it can be difficult to find an empty seat in the shop. 

“This event is definitely a refreshing time for most cafés, which are filled to the brim during the finals or when really popular teams play,” he told The Jordan Times. 

Haitham Khuli, who has worked as a waiter at a local café since the last World Cup, also spoke with The Jordan Times about the shop’s preparations. 

“This is definitely a busy time for us. We offer special discounts and decorate the place to attract customers and give them a great World Cup experience with their friends and families,” he said. 

Khuli predicts the café’s profits to increase by 30 per cent in the upcoming weeks.

Isam Khrais was seen enjoying the football match with his 18-year-old son Rami Khrais, who is currently a Tawjihi student, at a café.  

“He has been a true football fan ever since he was a kid, so we’ve had some serious negotiations and agreed on a study schedule ahead of the tournaments,” Isam told The Jordan Times. 

“Thank god the matches aren’t during the Tawjihi final exams like the 2014 World Cup,” his son added. 

Twenty-one-year-old Sarah Tamimi, who is not a big fan of football, said that for her, the World Cup is a time for fun and family bonding. 

“We all gather to watch the tournaments in a café and experience the exciting atmosphere. I don’t care who plays; I am usually there to enjoy the delicious food and have a good laugh with my family,” she told The Jordan Times. 

Yasir Sultan, 56, who works in retail, follows the matches during work with his shop-neighbour and friend of 10 years, Abu Ahmad, often while enjoying two warm cups of tea and a plate of crackers. 

He told The Jordan Times: “I got the chance to live through over 10 World Cups, and this one is by far the most interesting as the tournaments are hosted in the Arab region for the first time and Saudi Arabia scored us a stunning win.”

Sultan added that even though he’s generally not the biggest enthusiast of the sport, watching the World Cup is a “must”. 

While the focus should be on the games, the cultural, political and social aspects of the event are “interesting to follow” with so much going on in the world, he said. 

The way this grand event brings so many people from different countries in one place to enjoy football and cheer for their teams is “quite amazing”, Sultan continued, noting that it must be “a memorable experience to watch live”. 

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