A few weeks ago, on Dec. 18, we celebrated Qatar’s National Day. The historical background is that on this day in 1878, Sheikh Jassim bin Muhammad bin Thani succeeded his father Sheikh Muhammad bin Thani as the ruler of what was then known as Qatar. Prior to his succession Qatar was divided into many different and often warring tribes. Sheikh Jassim united all and formed a unified state of Qatar. These tribes, called Qabila in Arabic, still exist today, but consider themselves first and foremost Qatari’s.
On National Day each of the different Qabila’s had their own tents to welcome visitors. They were lined along the road which leads to the Wajba Palace – the Emir’s primary residence. Each had outdone one another in decoration and splendor.
Preparations and festivities were going on for days in advance. The entire city, it seemed, was decorated with Qatari flags of various sizes. There were also camel dressing contests, horse races, Arabic poetry recitals etc.
A camel procession started off the day at 7 am to greet the Emir at the palace. This was followed with a more traditional parade, with the armed forces and various floats etc, at 9 am. Throughout the day there was live music and entertainment at the Corniche. People drove around in extravagantly decorated cars. The mood was festive and the weather was extremely pleasant. The day was topped off by fireworks at the – where else – Corniche.
The following are pictures of a camel dressing contest and the interior of a tent. To see more pictures go to:http://www.flickr.com/groups/qatar_living/.