Saturday, December 20, 2014

A new holiday to celebrate--National Qatar Day!

For a new expat in this country, it has been tremendous fun to see the excitement stirring here in the last few weeks for National Qatar Day.  It is a holiday that celebrates the unification and independence of the new nation of Qatar.  Buildings and homes are draped with huge flags, children are dressed as soldiers or in the colors of the flag, which are maroon and white.  There have been exhibits, presentation, parties, parades, fairs, and fireworks for a couple of weeks as a drumroll for the celebration on December18.

Interestingly enough, if you venture to the mall or expat compounds, you can even view Christmas trees and lights intermingled with the Qatar National Day festivities.   Indeed, it has been a very merry interlude before we celebrate Christmas in Qatar.

We went to a fair one night to view the traditions and culture of Qatar. Falconry is a huge sport in the Gulf.  The falcon's cage was in the little hut covered with hay.  Of course, all the little boys wanted to climb in.
We are listening to the translator tell us about the ancient tradition of falconry.  The old falconer to the right is telling how for centuries people have hunted with falcons.  They are indeed prized birds, and sometimes can fetch up to tens of thousands of dollars.
Young boys in our neighborhood who are playing soccer in front of this mosque, all of them barefoot.  Everyone has been in a celebratory mood--lots of food, sports, parades, and being with family and friends.
Almost every child is clothed in maroon and white, just like the Qatari flag.  These children are walking around the fair with a traditional Bedouin tent in the background

A two-story high flag hung on a pre-school--two stories high.  The Qatari flag is ubiquitous in this country in the last weeks.  Today I saw cranes ten stories high with the Qatari flag waving boldly in the faint breeze.  

A home wrapped with Qatar flags--showing great pride in their nation.

One of the favorite pastimes in Qatar--going to the camel race track (another post that is coming up).  There were flags and banners everywhere at the track.

At Ikea today with Qatar flags everywhere.

A Qatar flag in front of the grocery store today.

The Emir's picture is everywhere--on posters, cars, clothes, banners.

A Bedouin tent that was on display where men were listening to music, drinking coffee, and socializing.

My high school son dressed up for Qatar National Day.  

We waited in line at the fair about 45 minutes for the Qatari version of french fries.  They slice one potato with one curly cut, fry it on a stick, and put whatever condiment you desire.  Z. and P. anxious to try some Qatari fair food.

E. with his friends at school who are dressed up in their country's apparel.  The t-shirt was given to E. when he was doing archery at the fair the night before.   All the kids were encouraged to dress up in Qatar dress.  We tried our best to be patriotic to the country we are living in now.

A pearl boat representing Qatar's economy before oil was discovered.

 I heard a lot of Americans say National Qatar Day was the 4th of July on steroids.  We ended the day up on a rooftop to see a fireworks extravaganza.  I must say the Qatari enthusiasm, pride, excitement, and love for their country was evident everywhere.  You should come next year to see for yourself!

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