Faisal Mohammed Alamrah, playing soccer in the desert of eastern Saudi Arabia

1,000 to 1 were the odds given to the Saudi soccer team to win, particularly against the powerhouse team from Argentina led by superstar Lionel Messi. The victory on Tuesday by the Saudi team over Argentina is being described as “one that ranks as one of the greatest shocks in the tournament’s 92-year history…unlike the World Cup’s traditional powers, it does not call on stars from major leagues of Western Europe to join its squad. Its players are drawn instead from the country’s lightly regarded, but well-supported, domestic league.” Rory Smith, The New York Times, Nov. 22, 2022.

I made these images in 1983 of Bedu boys of the Al Amrah clan of the Al Murrah tribe playing in the desert in Al-Ahsa, the eastern region of Saudi Arabia.

Bedu boys of the Al Amrah clan playing soccer in the desert of Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia
Al Amrah boys play soccer in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia.
Hamad Nasser Alamrah in the green sport suit, playing soccer at the Alamrah camp in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia.

As a documentary photographer, the success of the Saudi soccer team this week was gratifying. While living with the Al Amrah in the desert in Saudi Arabia I observed a strong human spirit and passion in the members of the clan. I have seen how the young boys and girls that I photographed in the 1980s have gone on to achieve academic and business success.

The spirit I saw among these young people in the desert in the 1980s was once again shown in the skill and desire of the Saudi players who defeated Argentina a powerhouse of a soccer team at the Lusail stadium, in Qatar this week.

Images like these help build a bridge from modernity to the roots of a culture.

Al-Ahsa, BEDOUIN, Bedu, Saudi Arabia, Soccer, World Cup Qatar

1,000 to 1 odds, Saudi Arabia defeats Argentina