What is a bisht and why was Messi wearing one to lift the World Cup trophy?

The traditional Arab cloak was draped over the Argentinian footballer's shoulders as he prepared to lift the trophy in Qatar

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Argentina dramatically beat France in the World Cup final on Sunday night, making the South American country, and its captain Lionel Messi, the Fifa champions.

Following celebrations on the pitch, the team gathered on a podium, excitedly preparing to lift the trophy.

As Messi made his way to collect the trophy, he was greeted by Fifa president Gianni Infantino and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of Qatar. Already wearing his gold medal, Messi stood proudly as a bisht, the ceremonial robe, was wrapped over him.

What is a bisht?

A bisht is a long cloak traditionally worn over a thobe or kandura at special occasions or celebrations in Middle Eastern countries.

The garments are typically black, but also come in white and brown, and are made from a light, often sheer, material with gold trimming. Traditionally, they are worn at times of celebration, for weddings, Eid and significant festivals. Historically, they were a winter garment, reserved for keeping the wearer warm on colder nights.

In 2017, Qatari YouTuber Hamad Al Amari, known as The Qatari Guy, explained how to wear a bisht in a video offering "bite-sized cultural Qatari tips".

"The bisht comes open with a sleeve on either side," Al Amari says. He then advises the user to put it on by resting it on their shoulders then placing their right hand through the sleeve and leaving their left hand out to clap the tassels. He points out that the bisht should be placed over the wearer's keffiyeh, which should be worn flat on their back and shoulders.

Messi wore both of his hands through the sleeves of the garment, as he needed to keep his hands free to pick up the trophy.

Updated: December 19, 2022, 11:19 AM