The Qatar National Day (QND) is a public holiday which Qatari people celebrate on 18th December every year. The history of the State of Qatar can be traced back to the founder of the State Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thaniin 1878 when appealing to the tribes of the peninsula for unity and successfully rallied them into a unified people. On this historical day, celebrations are held in different places around Doha such as Darb Al Saai grounds, Equestrian Club, West End Park, Museum of Islamic Art Park and Katara to name but a few. However, the focal point is always the Doha’s Corniche where lanterns, illuminated palm trees and flags are lining the waterfront road. This article sheds some light on several activities involved in the QND in some locations of Doha city namely Doha’s Corniche, Darb Al Saaigrounds and SouqWaqif.
Doha’s Corniche is the centric point for the QND. In this area, the royal family join and share peoples happiness in celebrating the QND. The Emir of the State starts greeting his people by waving at them. Then, he shakes hands with people and embraces children. Moreover, the march-past is in three forms: air parade, marine parade and ground parade showing an amazing view in front of the Emir and the people. They raise a huge flag of Qatar. In addition, the internal security force ‘’Lekhwiya‘’ performs a parachuting show in an exciting manner. In fact, nothing is more exciting for the public than having the chance to board one of its helicopters at the Katara beach.
Darb AlSaai is one of the most exciting locations for many activities during the QND. It is located in the Al Sadd area. In this place, people celebrate in many ways. For example, people are holding school contests, riding horses and camels, singing traditional songs, dancing etc. In addition, people can purchase items from various booths and stalls. In Darb Al Saai, many governmental sectors offer handicrafts for all children while playing traditional Bedouin games. Besides, Qatari people with their children show up in classical and decorated cars; gathering and marching in this area. The most exciting moment for them is when fireworks explode in the atmosphere. Therefore, enjoyment appears endless making people stay longer of the venue.
In SouqWaqif, many shops celebrate the QND by offering special gifts to their customers and visitors. For instance, sweet shops offer sweets and snacks. Meanwhile, clothes shops and stores offer traditional clothes such as ghutra for men and batola for women. Moreover, there is a stage to show and amuse people with a traditional dance. The traditional dance called Ardah is a stylized martial dance performed by two rows of dancers who are accompanied by an array of percussion instruments including al-Ras (a large drum whose leather is heated by an open fire), tambourine and cymbals, along with small drums. In fact, SouqWaqif is considered one of the most attractive and special place for people to enjoy shopping with traditional things.
In sum, the 18th December every year is an important day for all Qataris. This date makes a great chance for Qatari people to celebrate the QND and feel proud of the great achievement of tribes’ unity by the founder of the State of QatarSheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani in 1878.As noted, celebrations of the QND are held in various places in the country like Doha’s Corniche, Darb Al Saaigrounds and SouqWaqif. Last but not least, the occasion of QND definitely creates special enjoyable moments for the people to remember the history of Qatar every year.
About the Writer
Dr. Abdulghani Al-Shuaibi
Community College of Qatar
English Language Center