What to do for Qatar National Day 2013
Dec. 16: Updates in Corniche and Katara sections, as well as more events at the end
Dec. 17: Updates from Ashghal, QTA, Katara and the Al Khor/Rayyan/Wakra stadiums
Celebrated annually on Dec. 18, Qatar National Day is a public holiday that marks the historic date in 1878 when Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani rallied the tribes of the peninsula into a unified people.
Although the date does not signify the establishment of an independent nation – which only happened in 1971 – it is meant to be the point in time when the concept of a Qatari people was created.
Since the holiday was established by Emiri decree in 2007, National Day celebrations seem to be getting bigger and better every year. Last year marked the last time Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani greeted his people as the country’s Emir. This year, Qatar will celebrate its new emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, who is expected to be at the Corniche parade.
Festivities to celebrate QND have already begun with the opening of the Darb al Saai grounds in the Al Sadd neighborhood of Doha earlier this week, but there’s still much more in the pipeline.
For National Day itself, on Dec. 18, Ashghal is warning visitors to the various activities to dress warmly for the chilly weather.
On the Corniche
As in years past, Doha’s Corniche will be one of the focal points for National Day festivities. Flags are already lining the waterfront road, and its palm trees have been illuminated with decorative lights and lanterns, which will remain twinkling through the end of the month.
Ahead of the festivities, the Corniche is due to be closed Saturday (tomorrow) morning, Dec. 14, between 5am-9am for parade rehearsals.
On Sunday, Dec. 15, stations representing Qatar’s past, present and future will open to the public in the afternoon (from 4pm to 10pm):
- Qatar’s Past Station is located at the Al Bidda Promontory (opposite the park) and features marine handicrafts, arts and dhows
- Modern Qatar’s Station is located at the Oryx Jetty (where Balhambar Restaurant and the Orry statue are) and offers a classic cars exhibition and kids painting activities
- Qatar’s Future Station is at the Sheraton Park (opposite the park) and will have a kids cinema, and a “2030” tent, explaining the country’s vision for the future
The stations continue through National Day, and will be open on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 8am to noon and 4pm to 10pm. A “2030 train” will give children a tour of the three stations, while dhows will also transport visitors between them.
On Monday, Dec. 17, a new sculpture is being unveiled on the Corniche. The calligraphy-derived work is dedicated to the Sheikh Jassim, the founder of Qatar, Al Raya newspaper reports.
Although details are sparse, National Day organizers also mention on their website plans to hold a nightly “light show” over the bay and Palm Island.
The biggest event on the Corniche will be the National Day Parade, which takes place opposite Al Bidda Park from 8am to 9am, and usually includes marches by the armed forces, civil defense and other governmental bodies. A couple of songs by Qatari students, and aerial and sea displays by the air force and navy, respectively, will also feature.
Seating for thousands of people has already been set up, and portable toilets were spotted in and around the Corniche area this week. You can expect tens of thousands of people to throng the area for the event. Organizers are urging attendees to arrive before 7am, and buses will drive to and from the parade grounds and nearby parking lots from 5:30am to 7:30am, and then 10am to noon.
On the evening of the 18th, Corniche visitors will be treated to a performance by the Qatar Orchestra from 9:30pm to 10:15pm, and fireworks will happen between 10pm and 10:10pm, according to the official QND website.
Beware though – traffic on the evening of National Day has led to hours of gridlock in years past, as young men cruise around town to celebrate the holiday. Road closures, traffic jams and engine revving noises have been one of the biggest complaints from residents about QND.
Museum of Islamic Art Park
Although not a part of the formal QND celebrations, the Museum of Islamic Art is organizing a “National Day Bazaar” on Saturday, Dec. 14 at the MIA Park from noon to 7pm. In the same vein as their monthly bazaars, you can expect dozens of booths offering international cuisine, arts and hand crafts, plus different types of clothing and accessories.
The Equestrian Club
On Monday, Dec. 16, the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club will be organizing eight races to mark this year’s National Day.
Horse races begin at 4pm and continue until 7:40pm, and are open and free to the public. The track is located on Furousiya Street, behind Aspire Park.
Darb Al Saai
The Darb Al Saai grounds in Al Sadd opened to the public on Dec. 8 and will continue through Dec. 18.
This year, Qatar’s desert heritage is at the center of the 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 runs every day from 8am to noon, and from 3pm to 10pm, with nightly fireworks through National Day at 7:30pm.
Notably, on Saturday, the program appears to be reserved for women only:
West End Park
For the first time, a slew of activities are being organized to cater to Qatar’s expat families and single men, many of which are being held at the new West End Park complex in the Industrial Area.
On Dec. 18, the program begins at 8am with the national anthem, followed by a parade by students from MES Indian School, Sri Lankan School, Pak Shama and Noble International School highlighting Qatari traditions.
Two song competition follow the parade, and then a number of Indian and Sri Lankan community groups will perform traditional dances and music.
After a midday break, the schedule resumes in the afternoon (no specific time given) with more Indian community performances, songs from the Sri Lankan Orchestra, as well as dance recitals from the various schools. In the evening, songs and performance in Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, Sinhala, Telugu and English, will run from 6pm to 8pm.
At the venue, organizers also promise acrobatic shows, a Harley-Davidson motorbike show, driving simulators and a community bazaar.
The West End cricket stadium will also host a tournament featuring Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi community teams.
Additionally, the open-air amphitheater is organizing ticketed musical performances on Dec. 17, 18 and 19. Nepali musicians will entertain visitors on Dec. 17 between 4pm to 10pm, while on Dec. 18, the “Asian Comedy Circus” runs from 8:30pm to 11:30pm, with various Indian and Pakistani singers and a live telecast of the Corniche fireworks.
On Dec. 19 (8pm-11pm), the “Chilled Unplugged” show takes the stage with Filipino performers Duncan Ramos, Top & Jinky and Sitti Entry to the musical shows is through tickets.
Katara was planning to unfurl the world’s largest flag on its beach on Monday, Dec. 16, but logistical issues have caused those plans to be canceled. Residents can still gather there to celebrate the creation of the flag, which is expected to enter the Guinness Book of World Records this week.
It has also opened an exhibition at the QMA gallery (Building 10) on Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani, son of Qatar’s founder and the country’s longest ruler. It includes historic photos, re-enactment films and interviews about the ruler who oversaw the discover of oil in the country.
For those who miss the Dec. 18 morning festivities at the Corniche – or just want to partake in more celebrations – Katara has announced a number of afternoon events on its Facebook page.
At 2pm on Dec. 18, Lekhwiya (Internal Security Force) will perform a parachuting exercise, and also allow the public to board one of its helicopters at the Katara beach.
The cultural village will be receiving the Fath Al Khair Dhow, which traveled to the other Gulf states following last month’s dhow festival. The welcome event is at 3pm on the Katara beach.
And from 3:30pm to 5pm, the Amiri Guard, Qatar Army and others armed forces will hold a military parade at the amphitheater.
Meanwhile on both Wednesday and Thursday, Katara will have an enormous “book of loyalty” erected for people to sign with messages about QND, opposite building 24. And some 2,500 lit-up balloons will be released at 8pm on both QND and the day after.
Al Rayyan, Al Khor & Al Wakrah stadiums
As part of the “One Love” events being organized for expatriate communities on National Day, the three stadiums will be holding various concerts and community activities for families and single men alike on Dec. 18.
The Ministry of Interior is organizing football matches at Al-Khor, Rayyan and Wakrah stadiums, as well as foot races for children at the different venues. Wakrah Stadium will also host a volleyball tournament between 10 teams, MOI said.
- In Al-Wakrah stadium with a capacity of more than 12,000 seats, Pakistani and Bangladesh communities will perform cultural shows, thematic dances, songs, comedy show and more. Pakistan Education Centre, Bangladesh MHM School, Bhavans Indian School and DPS-MIS will compete with parade, songs, dances and thematic shows. Football and basketball matches will be held between community teams as well as racing competition for school children and public.
- In Al-Rayyan Indoor stadium with the capacity of 3000 chairs will witness the performance by Filipino, Malaysian and Indonesian communities as well as well as competition between Philippines School – Doha, Philippines International School- Qatar, Scholars International School and Doha Modern Indian School. Football and basketball matches will be held as part of the sports activities at the venue.
- In Al-Khor Sports Stadium that can accommodate more than 12,000 people, will be amused by performance of Nepalese expats and Al-Khor community. Birla Public School, Ideal Indian School and Shanti Niketan Indian School will compete with each other in parade, songs, dance and thematic show.
Events are planned to go from 9:30am to 12:30pm, and then resume at 3pm into the evening.
According to the Peninsula newspaper, performances at Al Rayyan Stadium include Filipino band Whoodesska in the morning and a magic show by “The Amazing Juggler” in the evening.
Doha Exhibition Center: The Qatar Tourism Authority has organized a tent outside the Exhibition Center near Katara to celebrate National Day with the public on Dec. 17. Sword dancing, falcons, coffee & dates, handicrafts etc. will be on offer as part of the festivities from 9am-9pm.
Ashghal Headquarters, West Bay: The Public Works Authority is holding National Day events open to the public on Dec. 17 at the open parking lot near it’s headquarters in Dafna, including a traditional Qatari meal, patriotic poetry, and separate seating for women:
— هيئة الأشغال العامة (@AshghalQatar) December 17, 2013
The Pearl-Qatar: Activities are planned in the evening at The Pearl between Dec. 16-18, in the Porto Arabia boardwalk area. Between 5pm-9:30pm, organizers are promising fireworks and water screen projections, theatrical shows, jugglers and clowns, sword dances, hennah, and coffee & dates for adults.
Airport Park: Qatar’s aviation organizations – Qatar Airways, Doha International Airport, Qatar Civil Aviation Authority, Qatar Aeronautical College, and Gulf Helicopters – are having joint National Day festivities that open to the public, which include face painting, sword dancing, and traditional crafts, plus falcons, horses and camels on display. It’s open at the Airport Park next to Qatar Airways Tower 2 on Dec. 18 from 9am-9pm.
The Gate Mall: A new photography exhibit is on display as of Sunday, Dec. 15 in the mall’s multipurpose hall. The show, called “Qatar, My Country”, offers glimpses of Qatar’s past through old photos.
We’ve been collecting as much information as we could from as many sources as possible, but it is possible we’ve missed some stuff. If you know something missing, add it in the comments below!