UAE: Saudi-owned firms give employees half-day holiday, distribute dates after historic World Cup win

In one of the greatest World Cup upsets ever, the kingdom beat title favourites Argentina 2-1 in Doha on Tuesday, ending the latter's 36-match winning streak


Nasreen Abdulla

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Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Published: Wed 23 Nov 2022, 9:57 AM

Last updated: Wed 23 Nov 2022, 4:12 PM

Saudi-owned companies and Saudi nationals in the UAE are ecstatic with joy after their national team's shock win over Argentina — ending the Messi-led side’s 36-match winning streak.

A UAE-based Saudi company that did not wish to be identified gave all its 200 employees half day off. Annu George, who works with the company, said that the whole office was in a festive mood.

“Everyone went home early so that they could catch the action,” she said. “A lot of Saudi nationals working in our office also travelled yesterday, either to Qatar to watch the match live or back to Saudi, so that they could enjoy it with their friends and family.”

As the match unfolded, there was a collective silence. “I wasn’t following the match closely,” George said. “But usually, our work WhatsApp groups are constantly pinging with messages. When I hadn’t heard anything for a while, I checked and the last message I saw was a friend [saying] that the score was 2-1. Since then, all our groups are quiet — I think everyone is out celebrating. It is indeed a historic day for Saudi.”

Saudi national Hussam Abdu was ecstatic. “I am so proud of my team after we won against Argentina,” he said. “This is the first World Cup in an Arab country, and with Saudi winning, I would say we are starting to write the history of football for all Arab countries.”

In one of the greatest World Cup upsets ever, Saudi Arabia beat title favourites Argentina 2-1 in Doha on Tuesday. Despite leading 1-0 at half time, Argentina seemed to falter in front of the aggressive Saudi players. Goals from Al Sehri and Al Dawsari came in the second half, in front of the packed crowd at the 80,000-capacity Lusail Stadium.


Deepu Prashant, who works for construction firm Saudi Binladin, said he was over the moon. “Our office erupted with joy when the final whistle blew,” he said. “It was momentous for everyone. For an Arab country to defeat a giant football team like Argentina is unbelievable.”

Immediately after the match, employees of the company were given ajwa dates and qahwa to celebrate. “The company has also promised us [a] special Saudi breakfast for all the staff,” he said. “I am so happy that I got to witness this.”

Maram Abadi celebrated even though she is not a big football fan. “I don’t follow football so keenly but I'm proud, happy, and satisfied today because I feel somehow that Saudi Arabia scripted history,” she said.

Saudi Arabia declared a public holiday for all employees and students across all sectors on Wednesday after the win.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, heaped his praises on the team. “A deserved victory. Combative performance. An Arab joy. Congratulations to the Saudi national team who made us happy,” he tweeted.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, also congratulated the team. “Congratulations to the Greens… Congratulations to Saudi Arabia…congratulations to all Arabs,” he tweeted.

“I still cannot believe that we have won,” said Sulaiman Alshammasi. “But sure enough, we did. After the game finished, and [after] going over the game's highlights, I can see that the Saudi team followed the coach’s instructions and played their tactics very well. Hard work truly pays off.”

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