It might sound like a stretch, but aside from religion, few things both unite and divide the Arab world like football. But despite its massive (and dedicated) fanbase in the region, and the prevalence of Arab footballers on a global scale, the phenomena and passion that surrounds the game in the Arab world has never been dissected.
But thanks to the Institute of the Arab World’s latest exhibition, that’s about to change. Entitled Football in the Arab World: The Revolution of the Round Ball, the show’s aim is to define the role the region plays in football.
The immersive show will allow visitors to take on the role of a player entering a football field, observing 11 different stories representing the significant moments and figures of the Arab world within football history.
From the formation of the National Liberation Front of Algeria’s football team as a rebellious move against France, and the story of the first Arab and African player, Larbi Ben Barek (who became an international success), to the rise of Cairo as the region’s football capital—no aspect of the Arab world’s relationship with football is overlooked.
The interactive exhibition gives visitors the opportunity to build their ideal football team, or slip into the role of a sports commentator. Balls and trophies from the 1998 and 2018 World Cups will also be on display, alongside photographs, documentaries and pieces of art created by contemporary artists, to an installation created by Algerian-born Philippe Parreno, who is renowned for his reality-bending installations.