Christmas, Qatar-style – tree-lighting ceremonies, Santa Claus and more

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As Qatar’s Christian population grows, so does its comfort level with Christmas, it appears. The holiday is less than three weeks away, and many residents agree that Doha is feeling particularly festive this year.

Many stores across town are treating shoppers to twinkling lights and sparkly decorations, and hotels are offering tree lighting ceremonies, photo opportunities with Santa Claus and elaborate feasts.

Here are a few ways to take part:

  • Check out tree lighting ceremonies. Kempinski’s is tonight 5:30pm, and the Ritz will hold one on Sunday, Dec. 9th. Its tree was the focus of some discussion in 2009, when it was covered by an enormous tent in Qatari national colors for National Day. The St. Regis also has a huge tree, and both it and the Ritz have put up adult-sized Ginger Bread houses (who says the kids should have all the fun?)
  • Visit Santa Claus. The jolly fellow is making several special visits to Doha this year, with most hotels offering at least one photo opportunity. Royal Plaza mall has the big man in red on hand to take gift requests from your little ones on Dec. 16 and 22 from 5 to 7pm. 
  • Enjoy the songs. Doha’s Community Orchestra is holding its “Tis the season” concert on the Dec. 15 at 4pm at the American School (ASD). 

Take a look at Time Out Doha or Qatar Happening for full listings of what’s planned around town. 

Is Christmas catching on?

Do you feel that Doha’s more festive this year than ever before?

Some on Twitter are pointing out that more stores in Doha are commemorating Christmas:

A growing minority

Christians are a significant minority in Qatar, with at least 120,000 currently calling the country home. It’s a number which is only expected to grow as Qatar’s expatriate population increases.

Although Christians are able to worship with some freedom in Qatar, Christmas traditions have led to some upset in the past, with a parade at the Pearl of the Dutch St. Nicholas and his assistant, “Black Pete,” prompting some angry reactions last year. 

Credit: Photo courtesy of the Kempinski Doha’s Facebook page

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