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JEDDAH: Jeddah’s historic Al-Balad district was abuzz with excitement as football fans from the kingdom and around the world flocked to the FIFA Club World Cup finals hosted by Saudi Arabia for the first time this year.
Manchester City beat Fluminense 4-0 in Jeddah on Friday to become Club World Cup champions.
Lake Al-Arbain Park is set up with giant screens to entertain fans for the event, and the venue also includes entertainment activities, cultural programs and restaurants offering culinary delights.
The historic district in Jeddah has become an outlet for international visitors who want to learn more about Saudi culture, arts and heritage.
Everyone is eager to provide everything that will make a positive impact on fans from different countries. It is an opportunity to highlight the true culture of Saudi Arabia with its generosity and bravery.
Sultan Haqqoui al-QalaFolklore Troupe Director
FIFA President Gianni Infantino performed a traditional Saudi dance with a folk group during the event, expressing his respect for Saudi culture, customs and traditions, and showing how sport is an important tool for the blending of civilizations.
Football fan Michael and his friend from Manchester told Arab News: “The historic district is a quiet part of Jeddah where we enjoy walking around. We received a wonderful welcome and enjoyed our stay here.
Sultan Haqqoui, director of the Al-Qala Folklore Group, told Arab News: “Folklore has become one of the most important daily events in the historic city of Jeddah, where it is very popular. Various fans from all over the world are delighted to see it. In fact, many famous (individuals) come to enjoy the various folk arts that distinguish the kingdom from its north, south, east and west. They find in these folk arts an opportunity to learn about Saudi culture in its various aspects.
He added: “These arts have great resonance in different countries of the world, especially in Europe and Latin America. We got direct feedback from the followers of these celebrities who expressed their deep admiration for these arts performed daily in historic Jeddah.
Haqqoui said hosting the FIFA Club World Cup in Saudi Arabia for the first time was a huge responsibility.
“Everyone is eager to provide everything that will positively impact fans from different countries. This is an opportunity to highlight the true culture of Saudi Arabia with its generosity and bravery,” he said.
Abdulaziz bin Mahfouz, owner of the Al-Ittihad Museum in Al-Balad District, said: “The historical area is important for Al-Ittihad Club and the athletes in the four old neighborhoods in general.
“We receive visitors throughout the year, but in the past few days, we have seen a global gathering of fans from international clubs who saw this as a fitting and historic opportunity to get to know the Saudi heritage up close.”
Fans of Brazilian clubs get along well with locals and “expose their culture and heritage,” he said.
In the historic district, sports fans from around the world “find a place and an opportunity to meet and get to know each other and celebrate. They are a beautiful addition to the historic area.
Marcelo from Rio de Janeiro, a fan of Fluminense FC, told Arab News, “It was amazing to see Saudi Arabia and the great growth the Kingdom is seeing. People here are helpful and friendly; They stop to greet you and talk. Everyone here is nice and I am happy to be among them.