World Cup fever is sweeping through Saudi Arabia despite the painful fact that the Kingdom failed to qualify for the event in Brazil. A Saudi team last played in the world’s single biggest sporting event 16 years ago, but this has not dampened the enthusiasm of local male and female fans.
There is a riot of color out in the streets of the city with fans wearing the shirts and colors of their favorite teams. Some have gone so far as to adorn their houses and cars with flags and stickers.
Some young people have been uploading video clips on YouTube of a camel predicting the outcome of matches. The camel is encouraged to choose one of two team flags placed in front of it. An octopus was used to predict matches in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
The late ‘Paul the Octopus’ successfully predicted the outcome of the final in the 2010 World Cup. ‘Shaheen,’ an Emirati camel, has correctly predicted the winners of the Spain-Netherlands and the England-Italy contests. Saudis are also expressing their passion for football in a creative manner. A football lover has turned his living room into a replica of a world cup stadium. The floor is painted green with white lines. It also has mini goal posts and the logos and flags of participating teams.
A vegetable hawker is also getting in on the act by arranging his fruit and vegetables to portray a miniature stadium. The vegetables are stands crowded with spectators and the apples represent players.
Young women have been wearing wristwatches and bangles, and carrying the flags of their favorite teams including Italy, Brazil and Argentina. Most people in the city streets believe that the winning team would either be Brazil, Argentina or Italy.
Even Saudi cabbies are displaying the flags of their favorite teams with Brazilian, Dutch, Spanish, Argentinean and French flags the most popular. The World Cup started on June 12 and will end on July 13. Spain are the defending titleholders.