World Cup 2022: ITV team following Wales give first impressions of Qatar

Journalists Issa Farfour, Cari Davies and camera operator Rob Milburn will be providing daily coverage of the build-up and tournament itself over the coming weeks.

A team of journalists for ITV Wales have arrived in Qatar ahead of the 2022 World Cup tournament.

Cari Davies, Issa Farfour and camera operator Rob Milburn will be providing daily coverage of the build-up and tournament itself over the coming weeks.

Wales made history when they qualified for the World Cup - the first time in 64 years - and are due to take on the USA in their first game on Monday 21 November.

Ahead of Wales' first game, Issa spent the day exploring Doha meeting Qatari people and gives his first impressions of the place:

Qatar today is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but that hasn't always been the case.

The story goes back to the people's journey through centuries of unstable pearl diving, which sustained the economy, and at one point, almost half of the population of Qatar was employed by the pearl diving industry.

The discovery of oil in 1939 after the Second World War allowed the country to prosper and Qatar has transformed itself since those seafaring days.

From towering buildings, stylish metro and shopping malls, everything has been designed for people’s convenience. All corners of Qatar are accessible by car and an advanced metro system allows people to move around the city.

Although a modern country in terms of its infrastructure, many of its laws and customs are are deemed oppressive compared to the rest of the world.

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, its treatment of LGBT people and human rights record has forced many to boycott the tournament completely.

Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford and Economy Minister Vaughan Gething have both been criticised for attending the tournament.

Mr Drakeford told ITV News the decision to attend the tournament was a “challenging” one.

Qatar is in the Middle East connecting the eastern and western sides of the world. Being a peninsula, Qatar shares most of its borders with the Arabian Sea. But it has one land border with Saudi Arabia in the southern part of our country.

Doha is the capital city of Qatar and has the largest population within Qatar, with more than one million people living in the city.

Doha has a seven-kilometre-long Corniche that connects the old Doha districts to the new Doha downtown.

The Al Khor region is known for its mangroves where the Al Bayt stadium has been built, which will host the opening match of the World Cup.

Just above Doha, there is Al Daayen home to Lusail City which has Lusail Stadium, home to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 final.

Al Rayyan region has three FIFA World Cup stadiums one of which is Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium where the Welsh team will play all of its group games.

Qatar is a very warm desert country; the average temperature is 36 degrees but can easily make its way into the fifties in the summer months. The ideal holiday time in Qatar is between November and April when the mild winter boasts average temperatures of 17 degrees Celsius.

Arabic is the official language in Qatar, and most Qataris speak a dialect of Gulf Arabic similar to that spoken in surrounding states.

Formal Standard Arabic is taught in schools, similar to any other Arabic-speaking country in the middle east.

Islam is the official religion, and Qataris are largely Sunni Muslims. Of course, due to the large numbers of the non-Qatari population, Muslims alongside Christians, and Hindus constitute the largest religious groups. Women in Qatar have greater freedom than in Saudi Arabia for example.

The migration rate in Qatar is the highest of any country in the Gulf region and the third highest in the world. Males outnumber females by more than three to one, mainly because of the disproportionate number of expats. 

ITV Wales journalist Issa Farfour interviewing in Doha

The White long dress (Thobe in Arabic) is the national and official dress of Qatar, everyone in the country from university students to officials wears a thobe, a long white shirt over loose pants. They also wear a loose headdress, called a Gutra, in white or red and white cloth, held on with a black rope known as the agal.

The Welsh team landed in Qatar late on Tuesday after a big send-off at the Cardiff City Stadium where they held an open training session.

The team held an open training session in Cardiff before they left for Qatar

The ITV team have been filming training sessions and speaking to players as they prepare for their first game on Monday.

Captain Gareth Bale told a press conference he wanted to shine a light on some of the 'problems' that exist in Qatar.

Bale has vowed to wear the OneLove armband, to show support to groups that face discrimination, including members of the LGBTQ+ community.

He said, "I think for us as footballers it's been a difficult subject to talk about, we can shed a light on the problems that are going on but we've spoken to the FAW and they've been speaking to the Welsh Government, who've been speaking to Qatar and FIFA and working on these issues.

"The most we can do as footballers is make awareness, it's for people higher up to make those decisions and to hopefully make the change for the better.

"We support everything in terms of the armband, we'll be supporting everything and doing as much as we can to hopefully get change in the right way."

Follow the ITV Wales team on Twitter during the tournament: @CariDaviesTV, @IssaFarfour, @RobMilburnTV.