All photos by Chantelle D’mello; with reporting from Lesley Walker
Now in its fourth year, Qatar National Sport Day activities appear to be bigger than ever before – and more popular, despite dusty conditions. (Update: the weather has gotten worse as the afternoon goes on.)
At Katara Cultural Village, hundreds of people could be seen early this morning, taking advantage of spinning classes, tae kwon do and karate demonstrations.
A bodyweight lifting competition was also going on, and several health checkup camps have been set up in the beachfront area behind the amphitheater.
Meanwhile, at the Museum of Islamic Art Park, fat suit sumo wrestling, a mechanical bull, an “energy floor” that turns footsteps into electricity and free food boxes of bananas, apples, sandwiches and water were among some of the offerings.
There is also a snow zone, where workers could be seen pumping liquid nitrogen from tankers into the area to make actual cold snow, which was fashioned into a 4m slide and poured into tents.
Notably, parking at the MIA is closed so visitors will need to find spots on the Corniche or at the nearby Souq Waqif, which recently opened an additional underground parking lot.
Speaking of the Souq, Al Sharq is reporting that no shisha is being served there today, as part of efforts to keep people health-conscious on NSD.
Elsewhere in Qatar
For those on the other side of town at Aspire, hundreds of activities are going on, including a fun run this morning, swimming for children and an opportunity to make your own drink:
— Greeker (@Greeeker) February 10, 2015
There was also ball-related fun to be had, on behalf of the Qatar Football Association:
— الاتحاد القطري لكرة القدم 🇶🇦 (@QFA) February 10, 2015
This morning, government officials could also be seen getting in on the NSD action, with the Father Emir going for a stroll and the Minister of Youth and Sports taking a ride on a quad bike:
— جاسم سلمان (@jassimsalman) February 10, 2015
الان : تدشين مشروع السياكل العائلية بحديقة اسباير
— وزارة الثقافة (@MOCQatar) February 10, 2015
At the malls, various events to mark NSD are going on:
— Qatar Living (@qatarliving) February 10, 2015
And by sea, some Qatar residents also commemorated the day with a running competition:
Our employees on 9 offshore platforms are holding an inter-platform running competition for @Qatar_NSD pic.twitter.com/ZjPuMiBoET
— Maersk Oil Qatar (@MaerskOilQatar) February 10, 2015
Travelers also partook in NSD at the airport:
— Hamad Int'l Airport (@HIAQatar) February 10, 2015
Here’s a guide to what’s going all around town for sport day.
In addition to a health focus, some Qatar activities this year emphasized the importance of female empowerment.
Double Olympic gold medalist Dame Kelly Holmes made an appearance this morning as an ambassador for the Dolphin Energy Doha Dash, and was on the starting line to wave at hundreds of children in the 1km fun run, as well as competing with runners in the 5km race in today’s event.
Speaking to Doha News yesterday, she said:
“Girls and women should be leading the way. If they want to have families in the future, for example, they need to be physically and mentally strong for that. They should get fit so they can get the best out of their lives and their children’s lives.”
The British middle distance former athlete, who won gold for 800m and 1,500m races in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, said her own inspiration came from a PE teacher at school.
“Although I wasn’t academic at school, my teacher’s support made me realize there were things I was good at, and it put me on a level playing field with my peers. Just having one person saying that I could to it, encouraging and mentoring me, meant a lot.”