Love for Sheikh Tamim hits fever pitch in Qatar
It’s been a patriotic six weeks for Qatar residents.
Since the GCC crisis began last month, images of Qatar’s leader Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani can be seen everywhere, decorating cars, T-shirts and buildings.
Recently, the Emir’s likeness has also been spotted in the sky, underwater and even in a cup of coffee.
The solidarity comes as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt pressure Qatar to make several changes to its foreign and domestic policies.
Local officials have already said that’s not going to happen, and the nations all seem deadlocked for now.
Meanwhile, the Emir’s popularity within Qatar continues to climb. Here are five notable examples of Qatari patriotism in these troubled times:
Last week, a group of Qatari skydivers jumped out of a plane flying above Qatar to show their love for the Emir.
The parachuters wore Sheikh Tamim T-shirts, and displayed huge flags bearing the Emir’s face as they flew down toward Sealine and Katara.
As they jumped, the men, who all work for branches of Qatar’s armed forces, used paramotors (a type of motorized, steerable parachute) to help display the flags.
Meanwhile, under the sea, Qatari @amro_al_hamad, the country’s free-diving record holder, recently dived under the sea unaided to express his support for his country’s leader.
There is another one of my images from Tenerife with Qatari 🇶🇦 freedive champion @amro_al_hamad showing some national pride for his nation as they go through some challenging times. This shot was taken at almost 30m (100ft) on a breath hold. Working with him is like working with no other freediver. He understands water, he understands freediving and he understands life. Until the next time my friend! A big thanks to @mourad_omare and @duniaquinterofreediver of @apneacanarias_tenerife for the excellent safety. Also to @dalemccarthy for the sick edit. @fii_freedive #fii_freedive #tamimalthani #qatar #qatar🇶🇦 #freedive #freediver #freediving #freedivephotography #photography #underwaterphotography #nikon #nikonspain #nikond500 #nikonphotographer #tenerife #tenerifereviews #tenerifetag #apneaphotography #تميم_المجد @nikonphotographers @natgeo @meister_diving #meister_diving #canaryislands
In an Instagram post, free-diving instructor Errol Putigna said that Al Hamad had dived down some 30m off the coast of Tenerife holding his breath, wearing a T-shirt with Emir’s face on it, and holding a Qatari flag.
“Working with him is like working with no other freediver. He understands water, he understands freediving and he understands life,” Putigna said of Al Hamad.
During the Gulf dispute, some cafes have been turning cappuccino into patriotic works of art.
Doha resident Peter Draper spotted this coffee at the “Chapter Five” cafe in Dar Al Salaam Mall.
Another resident spotted the Emir’s image in his coffee at Sugar and Spice:
On the communications front, both of the country’s telecom providers last week changed their network names to Tamim Al Majd.
Now, English language radio station QBS has also gotten in on the act, changing its name on radio sets across the country.
(Whether calling it Radio Tamim improves the station’s quality is still up for debate).
Finally, Zubara Fort was the venue for a mass show of support in late June.
Two days ago, thousands of “Balloons of Love” were released at Zubara Fort in #Qatar. Each balloon had an Eid greeting card tied to its string. The initiative symbolizes the unity of the people of Qatar with His Highness The Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and the love Qatar has for its GCC neighbors. فيلم يوثق إرسال #بالوناتالمحبةببطاقات معايدة لشعوب الخليج. بادرة تعبر عن تضامن أهل #قطر مع #تميمالمجد وعن المحبة للخليج #خليجنا_واحد🇸🇦🇰🇼🇦🇪🇧🇭🇶🇦🇴🇲✊ @justinlindberg @omarkhalifa @thefilmhouse @qatar_museums
According to Fahad Al Obaidly, thousands of balloons bearing the Emir’s image – so-called “balloons of love” – were released there to symbolize “the unity of the people of Qatar with His Highness The Emir and the love Qatar has for its GCC neighbors.”
‘Loyalty can be a negative thing’
Despite the outpouring of support from both nationals and expats, some worry that the solidarity is getting out of hand.
Earlier this week, Qatari @abdulrhman19_94 sparked a debate on Twitter for saying his country is about more than just one individual.
Translation: Take this idea, for instance (a bus touring the country with a book to sign showing support), and one can see how showing loyalty in this way can be a negative thing since it reduces the concept of the homeland to one person.
He went on:
“We should channel our patriotic sentiments into tangible, beneficial projects, not simply join a touring bus to sign and write niceties. We should (instead) better our education (and) diversify our economy to improve our country.
I am also concerned, and I sincerely hope it doesn’t amount to that, this way of showing loyalty takes on the form of sanctification, (where certain people stop being human and become sacred).”
He finished his string of tweets writing that he hoped no one would “accuse him of being a traitor” and that he was writing out of love for his country.