During the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Abdulrahman Fahad al-Thani, a member of the country’s ruling family, has become a hit among Chinese fans as his dramatic facial expressions draw comparisons to event mascot La’eeb. On November 27, he officially set up an account on TikTok’s sister app for mainland China, Douyin, through which he released two videos. He has now amassed 13.727 million followers.
Since the start of the World Cup, in addition to the fierce competition on the field, many interesting things outside the field have also become hot topics online. For example, the prince stood up and made dramatic facial expressions showing his frustration about his team’s performance as fans, including members of the Qatari royal family, looked disappointed.
The 16-year-old prince is currently in high school and is over 1.8 meters tall. Apart from Qatar, his favorite national team is Portugal and his favorite footballer is Cristiano Ronaldo. In an interview with CCTV, he recalled that Qatari team did not perform well in the opening match, and many fans left early. He didn’t expect his cute eyes and Arab-style dress to be very popular among Chinese netizens.
After learning that he had become popular in China, he recorded a video to express his gratitude to Chinese web users for making interesting emojos, videos, and comments. In the video, he still wore a kaffiyeh, a traditional male headdress from the region.
Many Chinese netizens commented on Douyin to ask the rich prince to give them a house or huge sum of money. These jokes have caused controversy, as many other web users thought that these meaningless jokes were detrimental to China’s reputation.
Fans and spectators around the world are now focused on the arid country with a population of just 3 million, as this is the first time that a country in the Middle East has held the World Cup. Qatar not only has rich oil reserves, but also a long history and strong cultural institutions such as the Qatar Cultural Center, the Museum of Islamic Art, the ancient fort Zubarah and so on.
The combined cost of the eight World Cups since 1990 were $200 billion, but this year’s World Cup cost alone more than that figure. In the opening match, the semi-automated offside technology (SAOT) helped reverse Ecuador’s goal against Qatar within four minutes. It also played a part in disqualifying three Argentinian goals against Saudi Arabia due to players being offside. Al Rihla, the Official Match Ball for this year’s World Cup, is covered with a layer of textured polyurethane spherical material, which reduces the wind resistance of the football, with a triangular shape and bent design. The weight of the ball is reduced by adopting water-based ink and glues.
Within the stadium, audiences from all over the world can find many Chinese elements, the most obvious of which are advertisements from major Chinese brands. According to Global Data, Chinese firms spent $1.395 billion on the Qatar World Cup, including home appliance maker Hisense, construction company China Railway Group, real estate group Wanda, Mengniu Dairy, smartphone maker vivo, Power Construction Corporation, commercial vehicle maker Yutong Bus and others. This surpassed the $1.1 billion spent by US sponsors such as Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Budweiser.