Qatar National Day (Arabic: اليوم الوطني لقطر, romanizedAl-Yawm al-Waṭani li-Qaṭar) is a national commemoration of Qatar's unification in 1878. It is celebrated annually on 18 December. The holiday was established by a 21 June 2007 decree of the then Crown Prince and Heir Apparent Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.[1] It is also known as Founder's Day.[2]

National Day
Qatar National Day logo.
Observed byQatar
SignificanceNational commemoration of Qatar's unification in 1878
Date18 December
Next time18 December 2024 (2024-12-18)

Observance edit

Fireworks celebration during Qatar National Day (2012)

The holiday is annually celebrated on 18 December. It is a national holiday and most of the public are given the day off from school and work.[3] Prior to the Emiri decree in June 2007, Qatar National Day was annually celebrated on 3 September, the day of Qatar's independence.[4]

Activities edit

Several activities are organized during the week of observance. These include:[5]

  • Fireworks show: Includes music, lights and fireworks.
  • Katara National Day celebrations: Festivities and over 20 heritage-themed events are held at Katara Cultural Village.
  • National Day parade: Members of the general public parade through the Doha Corniche. Officials from the Armed forces, ISF, Ministry of Interior, and Amiri Guard also participate in the parade.
  • Classic car show: Antique cars formerly owned by government officials are showcased.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup Final took place on 18 December 2022.

Purpose and significance edit

A parade taking place in Doha (2013)

On 18 December 1878, Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani succeeded his father, Mohammed bin Thani as ruler of the Qatari Peninsula. He is deemed to have unified all the local tribes by combating external forces, such as the British. He also earned a considerable degree of autonomy for the tribes of the peninsula.[4]

The holiday has been instrumental in developing a sense of national identity and is celebrated by locals and expats alike.[6] It is seen by the government as a method for preserving local culture.[7]

Editions edit

2016 cancellation edit

Following the December 2016 end of the Battle of Aleppo in the Syrian Civil War, the government on 18 December announced it would cancel all festivities in solidarity with the people of the city of Aleppo.[8]

Darb Al Saai edit

The Darb Al Saai festival, organized by Qatar's Ministry of Culture, is held annually in early December. The event runs daily for several days until the commencement of National Day on December 18th and aims to showcase the nation's cultural heritage and national identity. The name translates to "route of the messenger" in Arabic, and is related to the path taken by Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani's messengers relaying his directives.[9]

Activities include the ceremonial flag-raising at Flag Square, accompanied by military performances and displays, including horse and camel-mounted contingents, and local musicians' live performances of sea music. The event also features exhibitions that delve into Qatar's past ways of life, traditional crafts, and folklore. Workshops offer hands-on experiences in wool weaving, tent fabric-making, bird photography, and creative activities for all ages.[10] Educational workshops are also offered for both children and adults, such as Al Shaqab's seminar on Arabian horses at the 2023 edition, and the Ministry of Culture's workshops on falconry and camel riding.[11]

Spanning a 150,000 square-meter area in Umm Salal Mohammed (as of 2022), the venue's unique design blends traditional Qatari architecture with modern elements. Three arterial roads provide access to the venue, as well as the Doha Metro's Green Line.[10] Prior to being relocated to Umm Salal Mohammed, the festival was held in the Al Sadd district of Doha.[7] Several commercial establishments are found at Darb Al Saai Market, all with traditional names and selling local souvenirs, clothing and cuisine, including several cafés offering Arabic coffee.[12]

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 edition of the Darb Al Saai was canceled.[9] The 2021 edition was also canceled as the new primary venue for festivities in Umm Salal Mohammed would not be ready until 2022. Instead, several small-scall activities preceding Qatar National Day at multiple venues were planned for that year.[13]

Gallery edit

References edit

  1. ^ "UNESCO Doha celebrates Qatar National Day with Qatar National Commission". UNESCO. 17 December 2014. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  2. ^ "About Qatar National Day". Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  3. ^ "National and Public Holidays in Qatar". Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Everything you need to know about Qatar National Day 2012". Doha News. 10 December 2012. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  5. ^ "Qatar National Day Events Guide". Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  6. ^ Kamrava, Mehran (2013). Qatar: Small State, Big Politics. Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0801452093.
  7. ^ a b Kammutty VP (22 December 2012). "Darb El Saai: A glimpse into the past". The Peninsula Qatar. Retrieved 9 May 2024.
  8. ^ "Qatar cancels national day gala after Aleppo onslaught". Al Jazeera. 14 December 2016. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  9. ^ a b "No Darb Al Saai activities for Qatar National Day 2020". The Peninsula Qatar. 27 October 2020. Retrieved 9 May 2024.
  10. ^ a b "Darb Al Saai opens, reviving Qatari traditions, heritage". Gulf Times. 10 December 2023. Retrieved 9 May 2024.
  11. ^ Kilani, Hazar (12 December 2023). "Here's what's happening at Darb Al Saai 2023". Doha News. Retrieved 9 May 2023.
  12. ^ "Darb Al-Saai, the distinguished destination for visitors". Ministry of Culture (Qatar). 27 November 2022. Retrieved 9 May 2024.
  13. ^ "Darb Al Saai activities cancelled for Qatar National Day 2021". The Peninsula Qatar. 9 October 2021. Retrieved 9 May 2024.

External links edit