'An Arab World Cup': Artists' mural in Syria's war ruins shows support for Qatar

'An Arab World Cup': Artists' mural in Syria's war ruins shows support for Qatar
Syrian artists in Idlib province have painted a mural in solidarity with Qatar's hosting of the World Cup, also highlighting the suffering of their people
3 min read
Artists Aziz Al-Asmar and Anis Hamdoun have painted a mural to show support for the Qatar 2022 World Cup [Al-Araby Al-Jadeed/Amer Sayyed Ali]


On a crumbling wall destroyed by Syrian regime planes in the town of Binnish in eastern Idlib province, artists Aziz Al-Asmar and Anis Hamdoun have produced a work of art supporting Qatar's hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup while also highlighting the plight and suffering of their people.

Aziz Al-Asmar and Anis Hamdoun in front of the mural
Aziz Al-Asmar (L) and Anis Hamdoun (R) in front of the World Cup mural [Al-Araby Al-Jadeed/Amer Sayyed Ali]

The painting depicts a Syrian girl standing on the ruins of destroyed houses and IDP camps, wearing a dress made from the Syrian revolution flag.

She has roses in one hand and a ball the colour of the Qatari flag in the other. There is also a Qatari child carrying a traditional Arabic coffee pot - the symbol of Arab generosity – as well as the word "Arhibo" ("welcome").

This is the title of one of the songs from the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 official soundtrack. The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 logo also features prominently in the painting.

Journalists from The New Arab's sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed took pictures while the artists worked and spoke to them about the message they wanted to send.

"We wanted to deliver several messages. Firstly we wanted to draw attention to the situation of our people by doing this painting on the walls of a house destroyed by regime and Russian bombing. We are also pointing to the suffering of our people in the camps," Hamdoun said.

"We also want to support the State of Qatar as it hosts the World Cup, which is an honour for all Arabs, not just for Qatar," he added.

Artists painting mural in binnish for Qatar World Cup
The artists hope to send a message of support to Qatar and highlight the plight of Syrians in northern Syria [Al-Araby Al-Jadeed/Amer Sayyed Ali]

Al-Asmar praised Qatar for supporting the 2011 Syrian uprising against the Assad regime.

"The 2022 World Cup is not only a Qatari World Cup, but an Arab World Cup, so all Arabs should stand behind Qatar while it hosts the World Cup," he said.

"Qatar has always given its full support to the Syrian revolution, and still does. The least we can do is return the favour through art."

Al-Asmar also criticised negative media coverage of Qatar in the run-up to the World Cup.

The Gulf state has come under sustained criticism for alleged mistreatment of migrant workers and LGBTQ people.

Qatari authorities say that most of the claims in Western media are sensationalised and untrue and that LGBTQ football fans are welcome at the World Cup.

Al-Asmar said that the people of Idlib and northern Syria "stand with Qatar against the systematic Western smear campaign against them hosting the World Cup, which is the biggest and most important sports event in the world".

Qatar has expressed support for the Syrian uprising ever since it began in 2011, providing political and diplomatic support as well as humanitarian assistance.

The Assad regime responded to the initial protests of the uprising with brute force, and it became an armed conflict.

More than 500,ooo people have been killed and millions more displaced since 2011, mostly as a result of regime bombardment of civilian areas. and the demand of Syrians for freedom since the uprising began in 2011.