UPDATE: Many of these events may be canceled now that the Emir has called off QND celebrations out of solidarity with Aleppo. Please double-check with organizers before attending.
Qatar National Day (QND) on Dec. 18 marks the date in 1878 when Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani rallied the tribes of the peninsula into a unified people.
This year, the annual holiday falls on a Sunday, translating into a long weekend for many residents.
Celebrations for QND have already begun at some venues around town, including Darb Al Saai in Al Sadd. Many hotels and malls are also getting in on the action.
Here’s our guide to what’s going on around town:
As always, the Corniche will be the focus of lots of activity on the big day, and will be closed to traffic from sunrise.
Arrive before 7am if you want to watch the parade, which will feature military personnel and vehicles, as well as parachuting displays over the sea.
Buses will ferry residents from car parks to the Corniche in the morning (bus stops and car parks are noted on the map above.)
They will operate between 5am and 8am and between 10 am and noon on Dec. 18.
Fireworks will take place off of the Corniche in the evening. These are scheduled to start at 8pm and to finish by 8:10pm. It’s best to get there early if you want a good spot.
If you don’t fancy dealing with the crowds on National Day, however, you could also arrange to catch a rehearsal.
Qatari armed forces parachutists will be training off the Corniche on Dec. 17 from 6am to 1pm. Expect closures during this time.
Darb Al Saai
The Darb Al Saai grounds in Al Sadd will be open until Dec. 20, giving residents a chance to learn about Qatar’s heritage.
A host of different shows and activities are planned, showcasing the country’s traditional food, clothing, housing, perfumes and boat making, among others.
A team from the Al Shaqab stables will also be on site teaching visitors how to ride horses, and putting on displays.
Residents will also be able to view a miniature model of the trains which will run on Doha’s forthcoming metro system.
Katara Cultural Village will host two days of National Day celebrations on its beach: on Dec. 18 from 10am to 7pm and Dec. 19 from 7am to 7pm.
Organizers are promising “a line-up of exceptional activities and programs, including entertaining and rich military and traditional shows, as well as local and popular-themed competitions and contests.”
On Dec. 18, the Qatari armed forces will perform parachuting shows off Katara Beach between 2:30pm and 8pm.
The Museum of Islamic Art
The MIA team is organizing a treasure hunt on Saturday, Dec. 17 to mark National Day.
It will take place at the Museum of Islamic Art and at the QM Gallery, Al Riwaq.
There will be two types of Treasure Hunt – one for adults, and one for families and children. Four prize winners will be selected at the end of the event.
The event will be held between 12pm and 3pm and costs QR50 per group.
Spaces are limited, so participants must purchase tickets in advance to avoid waiting in queues from one of the QM outlets: Museum of Islamic Art Gift Shop, QM Gallery Katara, Mathaf Gift Shop, In-Q at the Gate Mall.
As well as the Treasure Hunt, the MIA is organizing a host of other activities including a bazaar in the park, face painting, story telling and an archaeology workshop on Dec. 17.
See here for more details.
There’s also a special treat awaiting customers of the MIA park café on National Day.
It will be open from 7am until 11pm, and it’s an ideal spot to watch the fireworks, accompanied by the café’s customised ‘Cream Puffs’ in the colors of Qatar’s national flag.
A day of events is planned at The Pearl-Qatar on Dec. 18 between 11am and 11pm.
There will be arda and kids march performances on Dec. 15 at Porto Arabia, from 6:30pm to 10:45pm. There will also be Arda shows at Medina Central and Qanat Quartier from 6:30pm to 10:30pm on the same night.
All three parts of the Pearl will also have Arda shows from 6:30pm to 1-:30pm from Dec. 16 to 18.
Finally, a fireworks show will take place in Porto Arabia from 9 to 9:15pm on QND itself.
Teams from schools, companies and community groups will take part in a special “Sports Championship” at the Al Wakrah, Doha Industrial Area and Al Rayyan sports clubs on Dec. 18.
Taking place from 8:30am to 5pm, teams will compete in football, volleyball, basketball and tug-of-war and running competitions, with cash prizes being awarded to the winners.
Please note that registration for competing teams has already closed.
A T20 cricket exhibition match will take place at Asian Town’s cricket stadium at 5:30pm on Dec. 16 as part of Qatar National Day celebrations.
Two teams will compete – a special World team made up of international cricketing stars and a local Qatar team.
Tickets for the event start at QR40, and can be purchased here. Fans can also buy tickets for a special celebration dinner with the sporting stars on Dec. 17 for QR500 each.
Alongside the two cricket matches, a number of other events are being organised at Asian Town to celebrate QND.
From 6pm to 9pm on Dec. 18, dancers will perform Al Ardha, a traditional Arabic sword dance in front of Plaza Mall. All visitors will be encouraged to participate alongside the dancers.
There will also be a motorcycle show, a classic car show, and a military convoy parade on Dec. 18 itself, alongside performances from stage shows performed by Nepalese and Indian actors, singers and musicians.
Many of the country’s hotels are offering special meals and discounts to mark National Day.
Here are some of them:
Marsa Malaz Kempinski
This hotel is planning to bake a giant cake to celebrate QND. They promise that it’s going to be twice the size of last year’s effort (which was 1.2m X 2m) and it will be made of red velvet sponge with cream cheese frosting.
They will cut it in a special ceremony at midday on Dec. 18, and the majority of the cake will be donated to charity, the hotel said.
The hotel will also be offering family activities, such as camel rides along the private beach and henna painting. Free Arabic coffee and dates will be available throughout the day for all.
The St. Regis Doha
The St. Regis will serve Arabic coffee to guests in its Sarab Lounge throughout National Day. The hotel’s Vine restaurant will also serve a “Qatar National Day buffet” at QR150 per person, from 12:30pm to 4pm.
International and local dishes such as tharid, balalet, khabees, and khanfroush will be offered. The building’s outside dome and lobby will be decorated in the national colors.
The Sheraton Grand
This hotel will hold events on Dec. 18 from 10am till 5pm, including the cutting of a cake “inspired by Qatari tradition and heritage” and live traditional music by a Qatari band and henna work.
Arabic coffee, dates and traditional Qatari desserts will be served in the lobby to all guests throughout the day. Guests can also enjoy the National Day fireworks while having dinner at La Veranda or at the Pool Café BBQ from 7pm to 11pm.
How are you planning to celebrate National Day?
Do you know of any events we should add? Please email us at [email protected] if you think we’ve missed something, or leave a comment.