Qatar National Day – the Qatari Celebration

Qataris (and other supporters from Arab countries) have an interesting way of celebrating the Qatar National Day, held on 18th December every year.

Every year around the time of National Day, Qataris will dress up their four-wheel-drives with white and maroon themes of Qatar flags, photos of the Emir and royal family, the Qatar emblem, slogans and even love hearts.

Decorated car in white and maroon coloursDecorated car with Emir and son on the backFdeet TrabCh ya Q6r (Happy National Day Qatar)
Decorated car with surfsDecorated car with Emir and Qatari MilitaryA simple Qatar 18 December
Decorated car with Emir and large Qatari flagChildren sticking out the sunroof with large flagDecorated car with large Qatari flag
Decorated car with white and maroon coloured stickersLarge Qatar FlagLarge Qatar Flag

Starting the night before National Day and ending the night after, Qataris will parade their cars along the Doha corniche, making as much noise as possible, including loud music, honking, and high revving of their engines sometimes causing explosive bangs. When with friends, all wearing traditional dress of thawbs and gutra or keffiyeh, the friends would sit or stand on the top of their four-wheel-drives, while usually supporting a large Qatari flag, sometimes women and children are there, and sometimes even teenagers are the drivers.

Many men standing on their cars holding Qatar flagsUAE flag standing on carUAE and Qatar flag together
Large Qatar FlagChildren sticking out the sunroof with large flagMen sitting on car roof
Man supporting Qatari colours standing on bonnetTeenagers sitting on car roofMan Sitting on car roof with Qatar flag
Man dancing on car roofLarge photo of the Emir attached to carMen standing on the roof of the car

Spectators in tradition dress and all supporting Qatari flags and colours use load horns, shaving cream or silly string, sometimes spraying at the cars.

After you get past the cringe worthy and dangerous nature of what you are seeing, it is quite an enjoyable experience, and something that we will never forgot.

Qatar National Day 2011

Qatar National Day is celebrated annually on the 18th December as it marks the historical day in 1878 when Shaikh Jasim, the founder of the State of Qatar, succeeded his father, Shaikh Muhammad Bin Thani, as the ruler and led the country toward national unity.

It is a special day for Qatar and during the lead up to the day, the whole country is decorated with flags and Doha’s corniche trees are covered with lights. Cars, of both Qataris and expats, are also decorated with displays of patriotism, pictures of HH (His Highness) The Emir, the Qatari Flag, white and maroon colours, hearts…etc. This is our second Qatar National Day, however this year we made a conscious effort to make sure we didn’t miss the main events (i.e. the early morning military parade). Last year, we arrived on the corniche as the crowd was dispersing… and unfortunately, after the parade had finished. Anyway this year we woke up nice and early and walked across to the corniche. By the time we arrived and found a spot on the road it was about 7:30am, and the place was packed! We actually found it difficult to find a space, but managed to squeeze behind some young Qatari women.

The parade started with the Qatar National Anthem. After a recitation from the Holy Qura’an, the Parade was led by a group of Qatari children wearing national costume, accompanied by horsemen and camel riders in traditional dress. After this there was a car convoy, followed by Infantry Forces, Police, Internal Security Force, and Emiri Guards, and all their associated equipment and vehicles, like tanks, boats and so on. In between that, there was a particularly magical moment where we, the spectators, turned around away from the parade to see hundreds of traditional Dhows sailing across the Arabian gulf towards the city skyline (my favourite moment of the parade). It was such a nice surprise and so beautifully done. The parade finished with an air show by the Qatar Emiri Air Force.

In the evening we headed back to the corniche to watch the crazily dressed up cars and their equally crazy drivers (an experience which warrants a separate post and photos in itself, so stay tuned) parade down the main corniche strip. There was also a Dhow Laser Light show and of course the night ended with the magnificent display of fireworks.

Qatar flags draped over a buildingMan waiving Qatar flagArabic Horse
Dhows sailing across the Arabian gulfCamelsModern military helicopter with tradition dhow
Emiri GuardsMilitary JeepSmall armoured vehicle
Small armoured vehicleMilitary TanksMilitary Tanks
Gun turret with soldier at ready positionMilitary special forces unitPowered paragliders
Military aircraft with smoke trailsMilitary helicopters over the Arabian gulfMilitary helicopters with West Bay in the background
Military aircraft with smoke trailsMen wearing traditional Keffiyeh leaving the paradeTen story Qatari flag