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Qatari YouTuber Ghanim Al Muftah – a politics student at Loughborough University who was born without the lower half of his body – stars in World Cup opening ceremony alongside Morgan Freeman

  • Qatari World Cup Ambassador Al Muftah hoped to ‘encourage dialogue on inclusion and diversity’ with the opening ceremony of the World Cup in Qatar 
  • The young philanthropist and goodwill ambassador spoke with US actor Morgan Freeman at the start of the tournament on Sunday 20 November 2022 
  • Al Muftah has caudal regression syndrome, affecting the development of the lower half of the body, and is known for his motivational speeches in Qatar

Qatari YouTuber Ghanim Al Muftah, 20, starred alongside Morgan Freeman in the World Cup opening ceremony.

Al Muftah is known for his motivational speeches and social media presence, featuring on TEDxQatarUniversity in 2018, aged 16, to talk about his condition, caudal regression syndrome.

Caudal regression syndrome (CRS) affects the development of the lower half of the body, which can include the spine, limbs, bladder, bowels and gut.

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The bones in the lower spine can be abnormal or missing, with spinal abnormalities often also affecting the chest, which makes breathing difficult.

Qatar-born Mr Al Muftah was chosen as one of the official FIFA World Cup Ambassadors this year.

In a statement, the Loughborough University politics student said: ‘Within my capacities as a [Fifa World Cup] ambassador, I want to send a message of hope, inclusivity, peace, and unity for humanity.’

US actor Morgan Freeman, left, sits on the stage next to FIFA World Cup Ambassador Ghanim Al Muftah, at the opening ceremony of the World Cup on Sunday 20 November 2022

US actor Morgan Freeman, left, sits on the stage next to FIFA World Cup Ambassador Ghanim Al Muftah, at the opening ceremony of the World Cup on Sunday 20 November 2022

US actor Morgan Freeman, left, talks with FIFA World Cup Ambassador Ghanim Al Muftah, at the opening ceremony of the World Cup

US actor Morgan Freeman, left, talks with FIFA World Cup Ambassador Ghanim Al Muftah, at the opening ceremony of the World Cup

The Qatar World Cup started on 20 November 2022 with an opening Qatar v Ecuador fixture

The Qatar World Cup started on 20 November 2022 with an opening Qatar v Ecuador fixture 

World Cup Ambassador Ghanim grew up playing football with gloves or shoes on his hands

World Cup Ambassador Ghanim grew up playing football with gloves or shoes on his hands

Mr Al Muftah is known for his philanthropy, having set up the Association of Ghanim with help from his family.

The association donates wheelchairs to the people in need. 

The young man was also named ‘Ambassador of Peace’ by H.H the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, in 2014.

Ghanim hopes to become a future Paralympian and lists football as one of his favourite sports.

The inspirational 20-year-old says he grew up playing football at school wearing shoes on his hands. 

US actor Morgan Freeman (2nd L), Qatari singer Dana al-Fardan (2nd R), and Qatari YouTuber Ghanim al Muftah (R) perform during the opening ceremony ahead of the 2022 World Cup

US actor Morgan Freeman (2nd L), Qatari singer Dana al-Fardan (2nd R), and Qatari YouTuber Ghanim al Muftah (R) perform during the opening ceremony ahead of the 2022 World Cup

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Ghanim has a following of millions of supporters worldwide

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Ghanim has a following of millions of supporters worldwide

The Qatar World Cup started today, 20 November 2022, with a vibrant opening ceremony featuring camels, actor Morgan Freeman and a performance by Jung Kook, the singer of K-pop boyband BTS. 

The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, welcomed spectators in English and Arabic.

Four years on from the World Cup in Russia, the Qatar World Cup has drawn its share of controversy after allegations of corruption during the bid to host the event, poor treatment of workers reported by Amnesty International, and illiberal state policies.

Homosexuality is a crime in Qatar and women have limited rights.

Organisers say all are welcome to attend the tournament.

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