The poorest of all Middle Eastern countries – Yemen had been plagued with political tensions from two fronts. The internal economic and civil situation led to the Yemeni uprising that was part of last year’s larger – Arab Spring. While the other being the country’s endless war with Al Qaeda which is slowly draining the country off the much required cash flow.

Malek Al-Shuaibi, Yemeni FootballIn midst of all this, exists Malek Al-Shuaibi, a 10-yr-old kid who acquired a sweet left foot. His touch on the ball was so gracious that the media had compared his similarities with Barcelona’s Argentinean great, Lionel Messi, eventually achieving the nickname – “Messi of the Arab World”.

Al-Shuaibi had recently completed all the measures required in order to move to Qatar’s budding football school of excellence, Aspire Academy. That is after a 2-year wait.

After the generous attention he received throughout the region while showcasing his skills at the 20th Gulf Cup in 2010, he was assured of an opportunity to be nurtured.

The authorities from the pre-Arab spring government wanted necessary steps to be taken to provide Al-Shuaibi with a trial at FC Barcelona. However, it never materialized, as the government was more concerned with the issues it had on hand.

Finally, after reading the plight of the talented young kid, officials from Yemen’s new government, in collaboration with Qatar’s sporting bureaucrats, have arranged for him to hone his skills at the academy. It might not be the famed La Masia but Aspire will provide an opportunity for him to be noticed.

We will have to wait for 6 – 7 years to see if all this was worth the hassle for Malek Al-Shuaibi. But for now, we recognize that from the millions out there who are otherwise unseen, one was spotted and was given a chance to pursue his dream.

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