Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Qatar National Day

December 18th is National Day, marked by celebrations across the country. Naturally it's a public holiday so it was nice to have some time off work.

This year had an added bonus. Because National Day was on a Monday the Government also declared Sunday a holiday as well, so we had a four-day weekend. The announcement was made at the last minute though, Saturday night around 9:30pm. Not sure why it was announced so late but hey I'll take it. I was at a friend's majlis at the time and was getting ready to head home since I would be working the next day and suddenly I could stay later and sleep in. Whooo!

Every year there is a military parade on the Corniche. Usually it is early in the morning, around 7am, but this year they moved it to 3pm. Turned out to be a great idea because the weather was fantastic, sunny and clear with no dust. With the blockade still in place there was extra poignancy to the military festivities. Many of my Qatari friends took part in the parade, they had been called up by the military for their annual 2-weeks of service so that they would march.

I didn't attend the parade in person, it's always really crowded down there for the parade. Instead I watched it on TV at home, hoping to spot some of my friends (I didn't, there were thousands of troops marching).



It wasn't easy getting home in time, I had foolishly gone out on some errands beforehand and lost track of time. My neighbourhood is reasonably close to the Corniche so during big events the traffic in my area is gridlocked and the streets in the neighbourhood become difficult to navigate as every patch of space on the side of roads has cars parked on them. It took forever to get home, luckily the security guard at my building had been diligently making sure that outside people were not sneaking into the building's parking lot, if he hadn't done that I wouldn't have been able to park anywhere.

That evening I went to Souq Waqif for the festivities. Needless to say I walked there, and got there faster than anyone who was driving thanks to the gridlock. There were some cars with people hanging out of the sunroofs waving flags, a common sight every National Day, but it was only later that I discovered that the Corniche had been closed to traffic, pushing more cars to the streets behind it. Typically cars would be going up and down the Corniche waving flags, and getting into minor mischef like spraying silly string, but not this year. See this post for an example of what it was usually like on the Corniche. Compare it to this year.


The Souq was packed. Not surprising as National Day is one of the busiest days at the Souq. It was difficult to find a table at a restaurant, finally found one at the fifth place that I visited.


I assume everyone was at the Souq due to its close proximity to the Corniche so that it would be easy to go see the evening's fireworks, the main reason why I was down there.




Happy National Day Qatar.

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