Paul Salahuddin Armstrong
After the elation of the World Cup Final game last night I’ve been a little baffled with response of some culturally challenged people who have been commenting on the traditional gold hemmed robe that Lionel Messi was graciously gifted by the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
This garment is called a ‘bisht’, an outer garment worn in predominantly Arab countries. The name is derived from the Akkadian word ‘bishtu’ which means ‘nobility’ or ‘prestige’. The garment has been worn in the Middle East for thousands of years.
The traditional robe is associated with status, being worn mostly by royalty, the wealthy, at special events, and by people with high social rank.
When an Emir of a country gives you a bisht and dresses you with his own hands, they are giving you the greatest honour that can be bestowed upon that civilian. Would anyone question if HM King Charles III gifted someone with a special sash or scarf at an auspicious event and put it on them?
It is a shame that people working in the media don’t check on the cultural context of these things before making ignorant comments. The World Cup was held in Qatar, in the Middle East, so expect some elements of Middle Eastern culture… In Mexico, Pele was given a sombrero, did anyone make a fuss over that?
This has nothing to do with religion, it was purely cultural and a huge honour and recognition shown to Lionel Messi as the greatest footballer of our time.