Carnegie Mellon University
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Unexpected Amazing: ​​Qatar 2022 Narratives and Residents’ Sense of Place

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posted on 2023-09-18, 16:23 authored by Mariam Al Thani, Alanoud Al Thani, María Mina

This study aims to understand how residents of Qatar anticipate and experience the Qatar 2022 Football World Cup, leading to an understanding of how this major event shaped Qatar residents’ sense of place. Sense of place is the attachment people have to a space and the meanings they associate with it (Cresswell, 2009). As Qatar continues to develop, this study contributes to efforts to document Qatar’s recent history and the legacy of such a significant sports event in shaping the residents’ sense of place and the country’s identity. There have been studies of Qatar’s branding efforts and the meanings associated with the world cup stadiums (Theodoropolou, 2019, 2020), but no study to date has documented the voices of the residents of Qatar and their expectations for and experiences during the World Cup. We interviewed 81 participants who are Qatari and foreign residents of Qatar before, during, or after the World Cup.

We analyzed the data using Grounded Theory (Rubin & Rubin, 2004) to identify common themes in people’s anticipations of and experiences with the event.
Preliminary studies indicate three major findings: (1) most Qatar residents were initially apprehensive but pleasantly surprised by their experience with the World Cup; (2) many foreign residents experienced a significant sense of “everyday inclusions” (Vora & Koch, 2015) during the World Cup, as seen by their pride for Qatar and their interest in defending Qatar against negative international media representations; and (3) many Qatar residents view the World Cup as having a lasting impact on Qatar’s internal and external identity and the possibilities for shaping future shared meanings of place.

We discuss these findings in the context of Qatar's history, present, and future, as well as the emerging social changes that continue to shape residents’ shared and contested ideas about sense of place.




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