Football, fiesta, food: the ties that bind the Latino community in Qatar

Doha, Dec 7 (EFE).- They are united by culture, food, tradition and, above all, language. The Latino community in Qatar lives together in a country that, although hospitable and safe, is a cultural and personal challenge for the thousands of Latino migrants who have come to build a future for themselves.

Of the approximately three million people living in the small emirate of Qatar, about 80% are foreigners. Most are from India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan, but every year more and more workers arrive from countries like Mexico, Peru, Colombia and Spain, a figure that has soared to meet the demand for work during the World Cup.

Argentina is one of those countries that has almost doubled its rate of nationals in Doha for the tournament.

“In Qatar we normally have around 400-450 people but at the moment it has increased because of the World Cup and we estimate that for the start it will be around 1,000 people, especially in hospitality, restaurants…”, Guillermo Nicolas, ambassador of Argentina in Qatar, tells Efe.

He expects around 35,000 Argentine fans to “give the tournament color and music”. Many of them were already present before the World Cup started: “At the moment, Argentina, Maradona and Messi are adored in the Middle East,” he points out.


Every Latin migrant you talk to will always tell you the same thing: they miss the food and their families in their own countries. Dozens of restaurants from Latin America and Spain have opened to give members of the community in Doha a taste of home.

The Mexican eatery SenorRitas Tex Mex provides not just a familiar bite to eat, but also the experience of partying and enjoying live music for expatriates from all over Latin America to congregate, remember their homeland and share experiences.

Mexican Yezenia Navarro has lived in Doha for 11 years. “When I arrived it was very difficult. I had a very strong culture shock. The weather was very, very hot. It was like that for the first two months, then everything improved,” she tells EFE.

Now she represents the Mexican community at the Supreme Committee of the World Cup, a leader of Mexican fans and a member of FIFA.”I always tell Mexicans and Latin Americans that wherever you go, do as you please. It’s a World Cup, it’s going to be fun, there won’t be as many restrictions as advertised in the world. Unfortunately there is a lot of yellow journalism,” she points out.

“I know that you can go to the beach and wear a bikini and you can go to a party and wear a dress,” although she always recommends “respecting their culture and religion.”


Sport also provides a strong bond among Latinos in Qatar. There are weekly tournaments in which Mexicans, Peruvians and Spaniards take part.

“Many of the things we do is celebrate National Days or play soccer, which allows us to get closer to the community. That circle allows us to separate ourselves from our work. What has united us a lot is soccer,” says Gabriel Rodriguez, a 31-year-old Mexican.

Soccer is an obsession in Qatar, and there are several fan clubs in the Gulf nation, with Real Madrid being no exception.

The passion in Qatar for the Madrid club led a group of locals to found the team’s first official supporters’ club in the country in 2011, chaired by Hazen Ibrahim Elkhlout. Some of its members, such as Hashem Alfadhli, have even followed the team to 10 Champions League and Club World Cup finals.

Their passion is extraordinary and they never miss an opportunity to wear scarves and jerseys of their favorite players, especially Karim Benzema, an icon in Qatar.

“We watch Real Madrid games, we love Real Madrid and we even spend a lot of our time talking about Real Madrid. We have gone to Madrid to see the club. We get together to cheer for it, watch it and we are in love with the team,” peña member Ahmad Bu-Shawareb assures EFE. EFE


Related Articles

Back to top button