A guide to spending Eid al-Fitr in Qatar – 2013 edition

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Ramadan is almost over and the ensuing holiday, Eid al-Fitr, has begun. In fact, most government employees got started on holidays two days early .

Qatar’s Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs declared Thursday, August 8, 2013 as the official start of Eid and the new month of Shawwal after the moon was spotted Wednesday night.

For those observing Eid prayer, it starts at 5:20am, and will be held at more than 200 mosques and prayer grounds across Qatar (Arabic link).

Typically, lots of people leave the country on vacation during this time – which means those of us who stay will have an easier time with Doha traffic. Though notably, the Qatar Meteorology Department has grimly forecast high humidity during the day, little wind and temperatures ranging from 38C (100F) to 42C (108F) over the next week.

On a brighter note, there will be an abundance of organized activities across the country for residents to enjoy.

Here’s our guide to those activities, organized by venue:

KATARA

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The Cultural Village is planning firework displays, music-synchronized water fountains and laser shows for four days, starting on the first day of Eid, running from 7:30pm to 10:30pm at the Katara Esplanade.

It isn’t 100% clear from QTA or Katara, but it looks like fireworks will be teased at 7:45pm and are expected to start properly at 9:15pm.

DOHA EXHIBITION CENTER (Wanasa Entertainment City)

The Doha Exhibition Center is meant to be Qatar Tourism Authority’s Eid headquarters of sorts, with its 15,000 sq meter “Wanasa Entertainment City.”

There, they’ll be hosting shows, games, cartoon character appearances, restaurant booths and 150 shopping stands. If you like the usual trade shows, this just might be for you.

MUSEUM OF ISLAMIC ART

The MIA will not be an option on the first or second day of Eid. It reopens to visitors on the second third day of Eid, from 9am to 10pm. The MIA Art Park will also re-open after a weeks long closure on Day 3 of Eid, as will the museum’s cafes. Its IDAM restaurant, though, is closed until Aug. 14.

SOUQ WAQIF

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The old souq is looking pretty spiffy with its Eid umbrellas out, meant to both beautify and protect visitors from the sun.

Souq Waqif will be holding six days of activities – advertised as starting on Friday, Aug. 9 through Wednesday, Aug. 14 – in what they call a carnival atmosphere. Activities include children’s theater, acrobatic performances and a “soap field,” among others.

Al Rayyan Radio, which is located inside the souq, will also be hosting a music festival of sorts, with performances at the Al Rayyan theater nightly between 9pm and midnight.

THE MALLS

QTA and the Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage are organizing a host of entertainment options at Qatar’s malls.

We haven’t seen an exact schedule, but QTA says parade shows, Japanese drummers, a Popeye play, musicians, an Angry Birds show, magic shows, Zuma-Zuma, Rola-Rola, Snow White and other shows will be rotated between the shopping centers between Aug. 8-17, and starting daily at 2pm.

Participating malls include:

  • City Center
  • Al Khor Mall
  • Lagoona
  • Hyatt Plaza (which sees Jungle Zone reopening on Aug. 8)
  • Landmark
  • Villaggio Mall

The Gate Mall in Dafna, meanwhile, will continue its Barney and Friends shows. They’ll be doing four shows a day – at noon, 4pm, 7pm and 9pm.

HERITAGE VILLAGE

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Not to be confused with Katara, this traditional Qatari village site adjacent to Rumailah (Al Bidda) Park on the Corniche, will be open for Eid. 

Here, the Ministry of Culture will host traditional musical performances, games, entertainment, contests and crafts from 6pm until midnight.

NATIONAL THEATRE

A new Arabic-language play, Al-Firjan, will be on offer at the theater from Aug. 8-17, starring Qatari performer Ghanem Al-Sulaiti, and directed by Hassan Rajab from the UAE. Tickets are QR100, QR200 and QR300.

PEARL QATAR

The Pearl will celebrate Eid with face painting for the kids and “magic balloon” shows, presumably at the Carousel plaza in the Porto Arabia district, from Aug. 8-11.

NOT THE USUAL SPOTS

A number of non-standard venues and organizations have planned Eid activities this year, including some outside of town.

The Aqua Park south of Doha is organizing games and activities for kids to mark the holiday, including bands, a “fire dance” exhibition, face painting and henna.

The Monte Carlo Circus is in town from Aug. 8-15, with a tent set up at the Qatar Sports Club. Tickets are between QR25-150. First show runs from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. The second goes from 9pm to 10:45pm.

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The Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani Museum west of Doha will welcome visitors during Eid holidays and beyond. It is closed Fridays and Sundays, but reservations can be made for between Aug. 11 and Oct. 24, 9am to 6pm. Drop a line to [email protected].

Lusail Shooting Club is offering shooting lessons staring Aug. 11 through Oct. 24, at a price of QR100 per session.

Qatar Air Sports Committee is going to be offering aerial tours of the city for 10 days, from Aug. 8 to 17 at Ehtefalat street (here’s a map). Timings are between 3pm and 6:30pm, at a cost of QR250 a trip.

The Imam Muhammad Ibn Al Wahab Grand Mosque will also be open to the touring public from 9am to 7pm, according to the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs.

Al Dosari Zoo and Game Reserve is welcoming visitors as of Aug. 8. Morning hours are 8am to 11am, and evening from 3pm to 6pm. On Fridays, it’s open all day, from 8am to 6pm. Email [email protected] for more info.

CONCERTS

In way of concerts, there are two beyond Souq Waqif / Al Rayyan Theater worth noting. La Cigale is hosting Arab Idol stars Mohammed Assaf and Salma Rashid.

The Bangladesh Culture Forum is also hosting a concert at Al Arabi Stadium Volleyball hall from 7 pm to 1 am, featuring a slate of performers, and with the Bangladesh ambassador as guest of honor.

Credit: Photos by Mohammed Ismail, Puremindsmuscolinos, and Wikipedia

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