first_imgAnd he ate it?Yes. For a sign of respect. For them it is ugly to reject it. It wasn’t as bad as I thought, really. It has a strong taste of lamb and liver.DAILY AS ‘); return false; “class =” item-multimedia “>DAILY AS What is the strangest thing that happened to you there?On weekends I could not enter the mall with my teammate: if you go with friends you cannot. It is only for families, couples. In fact there are many stores in which Family Only puts, and a man alone cannot enter. Underwear, women, colognes. I was once kicked out of a mall for going in shorts, after training. They told me what I was doing, what I was exhibiting.Seriously?And again, in a cafeteria where I always went in the mornings, in Hail, a woman approached me to ask me where I was from, because she saw that I was a foreigner, and suddenly a man appeared shouting at me in Arabic. I hardly knew Arabic and did not understand what was happening. Those in the cafeteria, who knew me, intervened. They told him that he was a regular customer, that nothing was wrong. They were young and the young people there have another mentality. What the man was incredible, they explained to me, was that I was talking to that woman. “Do you know her? You can’t talk to women if you don’t know them.”So much? Really?In restaurants and almost everywhere there are two entrances, two areas separated by a partition: one for families and one for men. Coffee shops are separated with screens. And the trains. It is in case women want to uncover. There they can. It is private.How is life there?They open everything very late, they make life at night. Because they are more acclimatized when Ramadan arrives, they eat at night. The last prayer is at 05:30. There are five a day and they are sacred, but truly sacred. I became locked in Carrefour with the purchase! Because he caught my prayer and closed everything. They lower the traps, nobody attends to you, the whole city stays still until it ends. Once in the afternoon I agreed to train, with a game, and even the ball stopped. You can’t touch it until the prayer is over. You have to wait.And when did he make the purchase?I went from 7:15 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., but sometimes I didn’t realize the time and caught myself inside. Many stores throw you out. Or they leave you inside. You can’t do anything while it lasts. Others pray there. All shopping centers have an area dedicated to it. Everything revolves around prayer.Alcohol, you know, nothing. And smoking?There it is prohibited. Until the shishas. They are left in a kind of jaimas surrounded by dates, and they drink tea, and coffee. And watch football. At all hours. As in Spain, but always only men.As they are?Very hospitable You eat with the right hand, doing it with the left is disrespectful. And there almost everything is always eaten with the hands. When I arrived, I received the Al Jabalain directive and invited me to eat a very rich lamb, and they offered me the testicle of the lamb, which for them is the best part, as a present that you could not refuse. Do you follow football a lot?A lot. And incredibly local football. The Saudi is the highest level in the Middle East, with its own Madrid-Barça, Al Hilal-Al Nassr. For LaLiga there is madness, more than for the Premier. They asked you about Villarreal players even!Yes?And from Espanyol. They know everyone. And they know football, too. They have enough history. It caught my attention a lot.He is not surprised then the Super Cup there.No. It will be a sure success. Arabia has good hobbies, they encourage a lot. That the woman can enter will also help. It is an important step for football and for the opening of the country.Do they like football?I do not know. I did not speak with any. For my sake … Of course, what men know is crazy.To recognize and stop on the street?Look, on my day off I always took the car and went with the camera to see places, to do things. Once I went to Al Jubbah, a city with some Neolithic cave paintings. There they saw me and recognized me as a football player of Al Jabalain. And there was a man in a car workshop who knew that I had played the Austrian Cup final against Mané, Liverpool, and had seen me in a photo on Twitter, or Instagram, with Jonathan Soriano who, like me, in January he had signed for the best team in the country, Al Hilal …And what happened?That they opened the doors of their houses, they introduced me to the mayor, they took me to take pictures. They didn’t know what to give me! Xenon headlights for the car, tweezers, lights … Whatever it was, to show me your hospitality. It occurred to me to say that I liked dates, that there are incredible, and they told me: “Open the car.” And they brought me four full bags, ten kilos. Arabia is one of the most hospitable countries in which I have played.Do you speak english?Very little. Almost no one speaks it. I would tell you two percent. And traffic in cities is very difficult. I never saw people driving crazier. You saw many accidents every day.How is football in the stadiums?There was no woman. And that shocked you a lot. You see all men dressed in white robes. With percussion drums and many flares, which they like very much. They light many, I do not know if they are prohibited but they do look a lot in the stadiums. But women, none. Look, my mother, when I was in Qatar and Jordan, she did come to see me, it was less complicated to be visited than in Arabia, for the visa, and surely she was the only woman in the stadium.Yes?In no Muslim country in the Middle East do women usually go to the countryside that I know of. Neither in Qatar nor in Jordan nor in Arabia. In Indonesia, however, also Muslim, yes. My wife, Paloma, when she visited me was in the break and did not enter either. But, look, these Super Cup matches are going to be very good to open the doors of soccer to women in the Middle East, that there is a presence of Western women in them, working. For, little by little and from time to time, as with driving, the country opens up and they gain rights. Arabia is the purest country with Islam and the strictest with women.And how does a foreign soccer player live Ramadan there?Phew. It is hard for them. They cannot eat during the day. Nor drink. Only when the sun goes down. But we, a Brazilian, a Romanian and the other Spanish, served us food at the hotel before the game. A story happened to Hugo López and Ramadan … (laughs).Count, count.As it turns out we had a bus trip, from 08:00, many hours. And neither I nor the other Spanish soccer player of the team drank water out of respect, for solidarity with the rest, which they couldn’t. You see that they are KO and that they endure, because you are the same. But we were thirsty … Terrible! Then, the bus stopped to take a break, everyone ran off … And they started to eat and drink! Hugo and I looked at each other, we went behind, shouting at them. “But what do you do? That you are all sinning!” We get scared to see them … But, if you are traveling in Ramadan, you can eat. The Koran says so. I imagine it will be because of how the trips should have been before, on camels, through the desert. Only then you have to get it back. And we: “Well, you could have said it before, we haven’t been drinking water for six hours for you!”Tremendous.“It is best to make the life they do,” Hugo López told me when Ramadan began. And it’s true. You train at night all month, between 00:00 and 02:30, and in the end you end up with the changed dream. You have to acclimatize. But I already tell you that, in Ramadan, they behaved very well with us. They offered us food even if it was hidden. I never had a problem in Arabia. Of course, another curious thing. On the street they used to ask me, when they saw me, if I was Spanish. “Yes”. “We had Al Andalus there …” they said. “And are you a Muslim?” “Unchristian”. “Ah okay”. As long as you don’t say an atheist …center_img He is the Spanish who has played in more foreign countries, 13. Among them, Arabia …Yes (smile). Last year. From the end of January to June.And how did it get there?After going through the Atlético quarry (from 2005 to 2007) I played at Almería B (until 2010), where I coincided with Hugo López. We have kept in touch all these years. And he signed for Al Jabalain just before, with a Romanian coach, Motroc Florin, who had trained Shabab Al Ordon, my team in Jordan (2015), and he knew me too. I was cuddly …By?Because then I played in Al Shamal SC of Qatar, a country that has a blockade with Arabia. They were so tense that they almost went to war over their relationship with Iran. In fact, Arabia does not let them fly over its territory, you cannot do it directly from one country to another. From Madrid to Doha it takes another hour because you must fly above and not through Arabia.And you were leaving Qatar, of course.Well, look, thanks to the fact that I knew a Spanish boy who was in the Federation and helped me with all the paperwork. I was able to play after three days. It was to pass the physical tests and debut.Did you notice much contrast?Something that struck me as soon as I landed is that all women are in black. Absolutely all covered. The most you can see is the eyes. With a niqab that covers their heads and a black dress called abaya. Some even wear gloves, so they don’t see their hands. That shocks you a lot. It gives you enough respect. On the plane you can’t sit with a woman next to you. If there is one, they change you.How about playing the Spanish Super Cup there?Arabia is a country that is trying to open a lot. With the new prince, Mohamed Bin Salmán, more liberal. It is the first time they have opened to tourism. Before you could not go without a special visa, if you were not invited by the Government or a work visa.How is Jeddah, the city that will host it?I lived in Hail, 900 kilometers away, but Jeddah is the most open city in Saudi Arabia, rather than the capital, Riyadh. This helps foreigners go well.And the women?Well, look, when I was there, Paloma, my wife, would not have been able to visit me if we had not been married. The first thing they asked me at the club was: “Are you married?” If not, he could not come to see me. How to drive. They couldn’t until 2018! Paloma, when he came to Arabia, went with the abaya and a hijab (handkerchief that covers the hair). And, even, to bring the face in the open, they already looked differently down the street. Men, yes, but women even more.DAILY AS ‘); return false; “class =” item-multimedia “>DAILY ASlast_img

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