PHOTOS: National Day festivities start early with Darb Al Saai opening

Entertaining visitors with traditional sword dances and songs, Qatar today launched the Darb Al Saai grounds in Al Sadd, marking the start of National Day celebrations that will culminate with a large parade on the Corniche on Dec. 18.

An annual fixture of the festivities, Darb Al Saai this year puts Qatar’s desert heritage at the center of its offerings, with horse and camel displays, children playing traditional bedouin games and various stalls and booths offering both handicrafts and activities for the kids, all organized by various government institutions. It will run every day from 8am to noon, and from 3pm to 10pm.

Event organizers have also re-launched the Qatar National Day website with details of current and upcoming offerings.

Starting tonight, two-minute firework shows will be held every night at Darb Al Saai at 7:30pm until Dec. 18. Flags and lights are expected to adorn the Corniche starting on Dec. 14, and classic cars and other attractions will be on offer in tents there on the 15th.

Getting in the spirit

In the run-up to National Day, many businesses and organizations are already getting into the spirit, posting flags, stickers and other maroon (“Qatar red”) memorabilia.

Some are also trying to jump-start a conversation about this year’s theme, “One Love.”

State-backed telecom provider Ooredoo, for example, is asking residents to leave messages about why they love Qatar on its e-mural. The company said it will pick the best posts to feature in newspaper advertisements. And on National Day, the pixels will be combined into one big picture.

Meanwhile, Katara has said it is “90 percent” done with working on the world’s largest flag, which is set to debut on Dec. 16, Gulf Times reports. Apparently, there were plans to spread the flag on a hill or over the sea, with the help of dhows, but the flag must be placed on flat ground to qualify for a Guinness World Record.

Restrictions

Speaking of the flag, Qatar’s former Emir last year passed new legislation governing treatment of the symbol in time for last year’s National Day, in which the flag was the theme of the celebrations. Read the full list of flag no-nos here.

In the same vein, the Traffic Department has reminded motorists this year not to get too carried away with their celebrations. Residents are not allowed to cover their vehicles with pictures, posters and flags in such a way that would change the look or color of the car, cover the windshield or rear window, obstruct the driver’s view or hide the license plates.

Drivers have also been reminded that, like in years past, climbing on to the roof or trunk of a car, and blocking traffic are prohibited.

How are you getting into the National Day spirit? Thoughts?

Note: This article has been corrected to reflect that the nightly fireworks will be at Darb Al Saai, not the Corniche.

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