The king of Saudi Arabia declared a public holiday to celebrate a historical win against Argentina in the first match of Group C at the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
King Salman bin Abdulaziz released a statement on Tuesday evening and said November 23 is declared a public holiday for all employees in the private and public sectors and students. Test schedules for students taking final exams were pushed back until after the round of 16, and a Saudi Arabian stock exchange, Tadawul, closed for the day.
The declaration of a public holiday took place as the king accepted a suggestion made by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Saudi Arabian media reported the crown prince being overjoyed with his brothers after the country’s team won the match. In addition, female fans cheering for the team and shouting, “Where is Lionel Messi?,” along with male fans in a sports café were broadcasted. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is leading Vision 2030, which informs the international community of Saudi Arabia’s economic and social revolution, to improve the country’s negative image.
As the Saudi Arabian national team succeeded in the historical upset, efforts to take it as an opportunity to resolve conflicts were also captured. Daifallah al-Shami, a spokesperson for Yemen's Houthi rebels in a seven-year-long war against the Armed Forces of Saudi Arabia, said via Twitter that Saudi Arabia’s win brought Arabic football back to the world map. Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum celebrated Saudi Arabia’s win as a delight in the Arabic world. The alliance between the UAE and Saudi Arabia had some cracks as the UAE normalized diplomatic relations with Israel in 2020.
Saudi Arabia is the second country to declare a public holiday for beating Argentina in the World Cup. The government of Cameroon also declared a public holiday as its national team won against Argentina 1-0 in a group match in the 1990 World Cup. South Korea also declared a public holiday on July 1, 2002, the day after the closing day of the 2002 World Cup, to celebrate the country’s advance to the semifinals.
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