1st Edition

Routledge Handbook of Sport in the Middle East

Edited By Danyel Reiche, Paul Michael Brannagan Copyright 2022
    406 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    406 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This Handbook provides a succinct overview of sport in the Middle East, drawing in scholars from a wide variety of geographical and disciplinary backgrounds (history, politics, sociology, economics and regional studies), with different methodological approaches, to create the ‘go-to’ text on the subject.

    After the introduction, 33 chapters from leading subject experts cover areas including history, politics, society, economy and nationhood. The authors help shed light on how certain Middle Eastern countries have become increasingly active in international sports, and the efforts made to positioning themselves as the new global ‘sports hubs’. Split into five sections, the book offers a multi-disciplinary analysis of a diverse range of sports across the geographic Middle East, including football, mixed martial arts, rugby, athletics and cycling. The authors highlight and respond to issues such as the naturalisation of athletes, female athleticism, sports media and supporter cultures.

    The Routledge Handbook of Sport in the Middle East stands apart from previous research through offering first-hand accounts of sport in the area from authors who live and work in the region or have a history of regularly visiting and conducting research in the region. It will be of interest to academics and students alike, in the fields of Middle East politics, sport, sport in the Middle East, international relations, governance and sociology.

    Introduction: Sports in the Middle East: Towards more inclusion and collaborative efforts?

    Danyel Reiche, Paul Michael Brannagan

    Part 1: History

    1. Sport and Educational Development in the History of Oman

    Majid Al Busafi

    2. ‘I was as Lebanese as Anyone:’ The Story of David Saad, Lebanon’s last Jewish Olympian

    Mohamad El Chamaa

    3. Riding in the Desert: Road Cycling in Qatar

    Thomas Ross Griffin

    4. The 1981 FIFA Youth World Championships: A Transformative Moment in Qatar´s Sporting History

    Matthias Krug

    5. Football for National Purposes in Qatar: Participation at Gulf Cup 1970 and Qatar FA Recognition by FIFA

    Luis Henrique Rolim

    6. The Historical Development of Football in the UAE: A Journey from a Pastime to a Symbol of National Identity

    Salma Thani

    7. The Making of Heritage Sport: falconry in the UAE

    Sarina Wakefield

    Part 2: Politics

    8. Controlling Iranian Soccer is Mastering Iranian Politics

    James M. Dorsey

    9. Sport, Diplomacy, Conflict and Peace: the case of Israel

    Yair Galily and Tal Samuel Azran

    10. Using Sport as a National Soft Power Strategy: The Case of Mixed Martial Arts in Bahrain

    Nadim Nassif

    11. The Syrian Men’s National Football Team as a Propaganda Tool of the Assad Government

    Nazih Osseiran

    12. Olympic Bidding and Anti-Doping Policies in Turkey

    Cem Tinaz and Omer Onur Hertem

    Part 3: Society

    13. Barriers for Sport Participation of Children with Lower-Class Background in Turkey

    Selcuk Acikgoz

    14. Sports Events, Society and Sustainable Development: the case of Qatar 2022

    Ahmed Badran

    15. ‘Human capital soft power’: the case of Qatar and the 2022 World Cup

    Paul Michael Brannagan

    16. The Development of Women’s Sport in the Omani Context

    Abdul Al-Droushi

    17. Hapoel Tel Aviv vs. Maccabi Tel Aviv: A Microcosm of the Arab-Israeli Conflict and Peace Process

    Glen M. Duerr

    18. Football Fandom in Egypt

    Connor T. Jerzak

    19. The Politics and Passion of Middle East Football Spectator Cultures

    Dag Tuastad

    20. Ultras in Egypt: Massacred, Disbanded, Steadfast?

    Robbert Woltering

    Part 4: Economy

    21. Saudi Arabia and Sport in the 21st century – From Oil and Gas to Event Driven Change

    Simon Chadwick and Paul Widdop

    22. Sports Economics of Iran

    Morteza Dousti

    23. Politics of Football Debt and Financial Fair Play in Turkey

    Can Evren

    24. Politics and Pirates: Sports Broadcasting in the Middle East

    Craig L LaMay

    25. Hosting Mega-Events in the Gulf

    Robert Kaspar

    26. Sporting Cities and Economic Diversification in the Arabian Peninsula

    Natalie Koch

    27. Investing into sport: A comparison of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates

    Victor Olivereau

    28. Sports Business in Gulf countries: A case study of the UAE

    Seth Perkin and David Howe

    Part 5: Nation

    29. Naturalized East African long-distance runners African in the Middle East

    Hannah Borenstein

    30. Homo Communautarius – the Influence of Politics on the Lebanese Sport Scene

    Axel Maugendre

    31. Nationality Swapping in World Athletics: Cases and Contexts from the Middle East 1998–2016

    Gijsbert Oonk and Jorn Schulting

    32. Beyond ‘Defecting’ and ‘Swapping’ Nationality: Emigrant Women Athletes and the Iranian Gendered Bio-Politics

    Ladan Rahbari

    33. Inclusivity in an environment of exclusive citizenship: The multinational Qatari women’s rugby team

    Danyel Reiche


    Danyel Reiche is a visiting associate professor at Georgetown University Qatar, where he leads a research initiative on the FIFA World Cup 2022. He is a tenured associate professor of Comparative Politics at the American University of Beirut (AUB) in Lebanon. His past research has focused on two areas: energy and sport policy, and politics, with the latter being his current priority. He published Success and Failure of Countries at the Olympic Games in 2016, Qatar and the 2022 FIFA World Cup: Politics, Controversy, Change with Paul Brannagan in 2022, and edited with Tamir Sorek a volume entitled Sport, Politics and Society in the Middle East (2019). His peer-reviewed articles have been published in both area study journals (such as International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics and Journal of Energy Policy) and broader-oriented journals, such as Third World Quarterly or The Middle East Journal. Reiche has also been invited to write op-eds for leading international newspapers such as Washington Post and Spiegel Online and has been frequently interviewed and quoted by major media outlets such as Le Monde, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

    Paul Michael Brannagan is a political sociologist specialising in the study of sport. His research primarily focuses on the role and use of sports mega-events by national governments for achieving specific political, economic, social and cultural objectives. To date, his research has centred most specifically on sport in the Middle East, focusing on the State of Qatar and its forthcoming staging of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. He is the author of Qatar and the 2022 FIFA World Cup: Politics, Controversy, Change (co-authored with Danyel Reiche, 2022). His work has been published in leading political science and sports studies journals, including Leisure Studies , Global Society , Diplomacy and Statecraft and International Affairs. He has frequently been interviewed and quoted by major media outlets, such as the BBC World Service, The Independent and the New York Times.

    In Handbook of Sport in the Middle East, Reiche and Brannagan provide scholars with an indispensable edited collection that examines a multiplicity of sports and case studies in relation to culture, politics, society, economics, and international relations in the Middle East. Academics interested in studying the use of soft power through sport, sport policies in both authoritarian and democratic contexts, the comparative method, or the shifting nature of identities, societies, and economics in the region will find this volume useful. Handbook of Sport in the Middle East will undoubtedly stimulate future research in a variety of disciplines in the Middle East and beyond."

    Tamir Bar-On, Professor-Researcher, School of Social Sciences and Government, Tec de Monterrey, Mexico

    "The editors of the Handbook of Sport in the Middle East are to be congratulated on the breadth of coverage of sport in the Middle East and on the depth of analysis provided by the contributors. This is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the social, economic and political significance of sport in the Middle East and the significance of the Middle East for global sport."

    Barry Houlihan, Emeritus Professor of Sport Policy, Loughborough University, UK

    "The Handbook of Sport in the Middle East sheds light on a variety of sports and countries. It complements existing academic literature whilst also illuminating various new and crucial topics. It does a brilliant job of highlighting narratives from beyond the mainstream and employing several different theoretical concepts."

    Birgit Krawietz, Professor of Islamic Studies at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

    "This volume juxtaposes a series of timely and innovative studies that significantly contribute to contemporary debates in Middle East studies, as well as in sport studies. With scholarly rigor and unprecedented breadth, it covers case studies in almost every Middle Eastern country from Egypt to Iran, bringing together major regional concerns regarding economy, politics, citizenship, and identity."

    Tamir Sorek, Liberal Arts Professor of Middle East History, Pennsylvania State University, USA

    "The handbook offers an interesting collection of essays on the relationship between sports and politics in the Middle East while focusing on a frequently understudied aspect of its culture and civilization. With an emphasis on historical developments, sociocultural contexts, and the political ramifications associated with sporting events in the Middle East, the handbook offers a nuanced understanding of the relevance of sports . . . those eager to understand the complexities of sports in the Middle East will find the handbook an invaluable resource. It provides an engaging and scholarly reading thanks to its comprehensive coverage, range of viewpoints, and in-depth historical context. Hence, it is a vital resource for scholars, researchers, and students interested in this dynamic and developing field, providing a wealth of information on the varied world of sports in the Middle East."

    Bincy Baburaj KaluvillaAssistant Professor at The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management, Dubai, UAE, in Contemporary Review of the Middle East