Qatar is celebrating National Day amid the ongoing Gulf diplomatic crisis, which appears to have created a greater sense unity among the nation’s 2.5 million residents. The annual holiday is observed on December 18 to mark the date in 1878 when Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani succeeded his father as the emir and led the country towards unity.
A two-day holiday from December 17 to 18 was announced by Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on Saturday. With 300 mini drones up in the sky, Qatar’s residents were treated to a synchronised airshow on Sunday night – also planned for Monday – at the waterfront of Katara cultural village in the capital, Doha. A military parade along Doha’s corniche will be held at 3pm on Monday. Various cultural events will take place across the country throughout the day followed by fireworks at 8pm.
Celebrations were cancelled by the government last year to show solidarity with the people of Aleppo during the offensive by Syrian government forces to retake the city from the rebels. This year’s festivities take place as Qatar continues to face a blockade, now in its seventh month, imposed by some of its Gulf neighbours.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, and Bahrain cut diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of financing “terrorism” and maintaining too close of ties to their arch-rival, Iran. Doha denies the allegations. Qatar’s residents – nationals and expatriates – told Al Jazeera what this year’s National Day means to them and how they will be celebrating.
Strong and powerful message by His Highness the Emir of QATAR, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani ”QATAR is a country with the highest principles of credibility and trust of establishing long-term social and economic relations across the region” and HH continues ”my mission and target is a sustainable economy with social and cultural development for the benefit of all Qatari Citizens”.