Poet’s donation shines spotlight on origins of Qatar’s national anthem

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Alex Gill/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The first draft of the poem that forms the lyrics of Qatar’s anthem has been donated to the country’s national museum.

The “iconic” artifact, along with the pen used to write it, will be displayed alongside other exhibits that will demonstrate the bond between the people of Qatar and their leaders, Qatar Museums (QM) said in a statement this week.

Under-construction National Museum (in 2014)

Damon McDonald/Flickr

Under-construction National Museum (in 2014)

The under-construction Qatar National Museum, built to resemble a desert rose and located near the junction of the Corniche and Ras Abou Aboud Street, is scheduled to open next year.

“The poem means a lot to Qatari citizens, and by exhibiting this poem in the National Museum of Qatar, we aim to honor it and emphasise its importance as a part of Qatar history which will resonate in the present as well as in future generations,” said QM’s acting CEO Mansoor bin Ebrahim Al Mahmoud in a statement.

The donation came from the Qatari poet who penned the verses, Sheikh Mubarak bin Saif Al Thani, who is one of the inaugural recipients of Qatar’s Order of Merit and was recently honored as a “source of pride” for the country.

History

Qatar’s national anthem was adopted following the official inauguration of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani as Emir after he deposed his father in a bloodless coup, according to a brief history published by the government’s security surveillance department (NSS).

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Xavier Bouchevreau/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Titled Al-Salam Al-Amiri (Peace to the Emir), the anthem features music by Abdul Aziz Nasser Obaidan and was first played on Dec. 7, 1996, during a summit of GCC leaders held in Doha.

In 2012, I Love Qatar founder Khalifa Saleh Al Haroon challenged his Twitter and Facebook followers to try to find out how many Qatar residents knew the country’s national anthem.

The results of the informal poll found that 87 percent of Qataris knew their national anthem by heart, while 51 percent of expats could hum at least a few bars of the tune.

According to Qatar legal portal Al Meezan, in English the lyrics translate to:

Swearing by God who erected the sky
Swearing by God who spread the light
Qatar will always be free
Sublimed by the spirit of the sincere
Proceed thou on the manners of the ascendants
And advance by the guiding light of the Prophets
Qatar in my heart is a legacy,
Qatar is an epic of glory and dignity
Qatar is land of the foremost men
Who protect us at time of distress,
Doves they can be at times of peace,
Warriors they are at times of sacrifice.

In an analysis of the anthem, the NSS said the words emphasize a strong historical connection between the residents of the modern nation-state and their ancestors.

One of the first known photographs of Doha, circa 1904.

Hermann Burchardt / Facebook

One of the first known photographs of Doha, circa 1904.

Opening with a strong oath to God, the anthem states that Qatar’s glory comes from the souls of its faithful and loyal people.

It then highlights the commitment among Qatar’s people to march forward on the same course as their ancestors, illuminated by the virtuous light of the prophets, and asserts that no one can destroy the pride and glory of Qatar in the heart of its people.

The anthem closes by reasserting that the men of modern Qatar are the defenders of the country’s soil and dignity, just like their forefathers who guarded Qatar in conflict and were leaders in all fields.

Lasting legacy

Sheikh Mubarak’s donation comes as the poet’s work is finding new audiences abroad.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

ictQATAR/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Earlier this month, Qatar’s Ministry of Culture paid tribute to Sheikh Mubarak by publishing a scholarly study of his work in Arabic as well as a French translation of his poetry.

At a launch ceremony, Hamad bin Abdulaziz al Kuwari – Qatar’s minister of culture, arts and heritage – highlighted Sheikh Mubarak’s lasting presence and influence through his poetry that remains the subject of literary study in local schools, according to coverage of the event in the Qatar Tribune.

Sheikh Mubarak was in ill health and unable to attend the ceremony, the newspaper added.

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