Monday, 19 December 2011

Qatar National Day 2011

Qatar marked its National Day yesterday, 18th December.  Introduced in 2007 National Day celebrates the founding of the modern and united State of Qatar by Sheikh Jassim (Qassim) bin Mohammad bin Thani.  Sheikh Jassim was born in Bahrain arond 1825 and grew up in Fuwairat on the Qatar coast.  To cut a long and really interesting story short, once he was in power, Sheikh Jassim mostly suceeded in balancing the pressures of the regional powers, who were at that time Britain and the Ottomans (Turkey).  When he resisted the Ottoman Empire's growing attempts to dominate the area, the resistance culminated in a decisive battle at Al Wajba, south of Doha, in 1893 which the united Qatari tribes won.
Today proud Qataris decorate their cars with pictures of the current Emir and the ruling family. 

The pictures are screen printed onto a thin perforated plastic mesh which is then heat sealed onto windows or glued onto the vehicle's bodywork (how that affects the car's paintwork I don't know). Holes are cut out of the mesh to allow for head/tail lights and door handles.  The vehicles of both nationals and many expats were decked out with flags of various sizes while buildings were draped with huge pictures of the Emir and the Heir Apparent and flags some several stories high.
The day is a public holiday with events centered on and around the Corniche in Doha including a fly past of planes from the Qatari Airforce.

Throughout the day there cultural shows on the Corniche and in the nearby souq Wafiq.

In the morning there was a military parade along the Corniche displaying the Qatari Armed Forces' most recent purchases.  In the evening the crowds were entertained by a light show and  fireworks display.  We were warned about the traffic schmozzle that would go along with the fireworks display and so we stayed home, this photo of the fireworks is taken from our roof. 

All this along with the national day pastime of standing in the sunroof of a speeding 4x4 waving either a national flag or a brandishing a sword.
More photos are here.

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