Ahmed al-Salem is a busy man since the culmination of the FIFA World Cup. Hundreds of shoppers are attempting to get their hands over the garments made by al-Salem at his family store in Doha’s Souq Waqif. The reason is quite straightforward; al-Salem manufactured the black-gold-colored transparent robe that Emir of Qatar Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani shrouded Messi in before handing over the World Cup trophy.
The robe, called ‘bisht’ and priced at $2,200 was made by Salem’s family company. However, none of them knew if it was going to be used on such a big stage.
“We did not know who they were for and I was stunned,” al-Salem was quoted as saying by AFP. He added that the family handed two delicate handmake cloaks to World Cup officials, one in the size of Messi and the other to fit a relatively taller French captain Hugo Lloris.
According to al-Salem, it was Argentinian and Lionel Messi fans that descended upon his shop in numbers, wanting to buy the robe.
“At one stage there were dozens waiting outside the store. They were nearly all Argentinians.”
The robe is made of camel hair and goat wool and is presented on special occasions to revered individuals. Each bisht takes a week to complete and has to undergo seven stage completion process with different tailors weaving their magic on different stages.
The robe is seen as a sign of appreciation and respect in the Gulf region. Messi being asked to don the robe was a way for Qataris to show their respect to the Argentine for his achievements.
The moment Messi was presented with the robe, it caught the attention of millions across the world. While several were critical of the garment saying it took sheen away from the moment, others said it was Qatar attempting to share its culture and heritage with the world, which should be respected.
Former English player and commentator Gary Lineker commenting on the incident said: “Amazing scenes, great pictures from above and great pictures from inside the ground as Argentina win the World Cup for the third time.” He added, “It seems a shame, in a way, that they’ve covered up Messi in his Argentina shirt.”