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December 17, 2010 - 10:59:24 pm

With streets, vehicles, buildings — the whole nation painted in maroon and white, Qatar marks its National Day today. Pride in the nation is at its zenith — not for the citizens alone but also for the thousands of expatriates who consider Qatar their home away form home.

Flags are flying high, the Corniche is all lit up and shopping for memorabilia is at its peak. It must be for the first time that the streets of Qatar have seen so many flag sellers. There has also been a surge in cars decorated with flags and pictures of the national leaders. Abaya and thobe makers are doing brisk business with an increase in demand for attires with the national colours. A major supermarket has adopted the National Day theme while others have given importance to books, maps and journals focusing on Qatar and its history and sales are reportedly high.

The involvement of and enthusiasm in the expatriate communities have seen a dramatic rise this year.

Patriotism, joy and pride are more evident, pronounced and amplified this year, with Qatar having won the privilege of hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2022. Even before the euphoria over the World Cup feat had settled down, yet another success, of discovering a planet, came to Qatar. Victories now seem attracted to Qatar, boosting the nation’s reputation worldwide.

It’s time to pay homage to a visionary who unified the country and led it towards the success which the nation enjoys today. The National Day commemorates the historic day in 1878 when the founder of the State of Qatar, Shaikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, succeeded his father as the ruler and led the nation towards progress and prosperity with his policies.

People are now reaping the benefits of Qatar’s march towards glorious heights and a reputation as a global leader in education, healthcare, culture, humanitarian efforts, a mediator and an inspiration for the Arab world.

Citizens and expatriates should, however, realise that patriotism, loyalty or being a part of the nation is much more than celebrations on December 18. It entails giving back to the nation by fulfilling the vision of the founder who worked and his successors who are working to make Qatar a global leader.

Parading patriotism

By Fazeena Saleem

DOHA: Today the country celebrates its National Day, reflecting the remarkable progress it has made in all sectors and aspects of life, especially the winning of the bid to host the football World Cup in 2022.

The day defines the spirit and aspirations of this country as it continues to grow into one of the world’s most advanced, prosperous and hospitable nations.

First celebrated in 2007, Qatar National Day marks the historic day in 1878 when Sheikh Jassem bin Mohammed bin Thani, the founder of Qatar, rose to power and led the country into statehood and unity. National Day celebrates the ideals and vision on which Qatar was founded, which are reflected in the remarkable development and achievements that has been achieved in different sectors throughout the country.

The extravaganza and overwhelming National Day celebrations are overflowing with patriotic enthusiasm among Qataris. This year the celebrations have taken a different phase following the bid win. The celebrations actually started on December 2 evening.

Whole country is covered with maroon and white as Qatari National flags, hoisted or draped on buildings and vehicles. Stickers and with patriotic slogans and special spray paint decorations have covered the vehicles on the Doha roads.

“These decorations on my car cost QR23,000 and it took me more than two weeks as I imported the colors related to their pigment from the UAE. My car is completely covered with images and flags,” said a Qatari youth.

The nationals see this National Day different from the previous years, spending more on decorations and clothes with national colours and emblem. However, some were also concerned about the traffic regulations as the Interior Ministry has instructed the vehicle owners to abide by the traffic laws.

“I agree this year’s National Day celebrations are different and distinguished from the earlier years. The change I will do to my car will surprise all. I don’t mid about the material coast as Qatar has equalized more and we are grateful to our dear country,” said Khaled, however stressing that every decoration should be under the traffic regulations of the country.

“I share the happiness with everyone. It’s nice to see national flags and patriotic slogans on cars and buildings. My only concern at this celebration people should be careful not to violate the law and disturb the traffic,” said Ghanem, another Qatari.

The joy and celebrations of the National Day is not limited to decorations but extended to memorabilia in the form of sheilas, scarves, caps, T-shirts, gowns, thopes, abayas, bags, mugs and badges being sold at retail shops, souqs and hypermarkets.

Abayas and sheilas with national colours have become a new trend among Qatari women. Exclusive abaya makers introduce special designs for each season and especially for the National Day, however this year have seen rapid business after Qatar was given the right to host the World Cup in 2022.

“We have exclusive deigns for the National Day. Especial sheilas with the Qatar national colours and badges,” said Ranjith Kumar, Operation Manager, Al Motahajiba, leading abaya makers in Qatar.

Al Motahajiba, sells printed and embellished sheilas as sets and separately in different styles, models, sizes and prices. The price varies from QR225 to QR 400 depending on choice. Ranjith Kumar also agreed the business is booming after bid win.

“I’m wearing this sheila from December 3, I may wear it till 2022,” said Salma Al Dosari, a young Qatari lady.

Its not alone the abayas, tailoring shops also make thobes for men with national colours. A tailoring shop keeper in the Al Saad area said, the demand for thobes is higher than last year, especially for children’s wear.

“Many people come to buy these thobes for little boys,” he said.

Customers furthermore get designer-made items especially made to demonstrate the national day and Qatar victory to host the World Cup.

“We design cups upon requirement. What ever picture the customer wants, we print it. Some select even their own pictures with the Emir’s photos and national colours,” said a designer at the Souq Waqif.

The common memorabilia, Qatari flags come in various sizes, some of which are with designs and the price differs from QR5 to QR150 depending on the fabric.

Some flags, badges and scarves bear pictures of the Emir H H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and the Heir Apparent H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and the FIFA 2022 logo.

Between, many little girls and boys at public places were seen their faces painted with national colours showing the spirit of celebrations.

It’s not all alone the individuals but also the national stakeholders, educational institutions and all private institutions arranged special event to celebrate the National Day as a commemoration of statehood and unity of Qatar with a greater degree of patriotic enthusiasm this year as the country looks to a promising future after the successful bid.

Dohaland, a pioneer to create leading edge urban living concepts build on traditional Arabian architecture and design, is set to host and engage the Qatari community with many activities for Qatar’s double celebrations of the National Day and the 2022 World Cup winning bid.

Dohaland, has also commissioned a special song for National Day entitled ‘I am Qatari’, sung by popular Qatari singer Fahad Al Kubaisi, reflecting the strong and proud traditions of Qatar, the ambitions and dreams of its people, and the joy of all Qataris during this wonderful era.

A floating presentation centre moored off the Corniche, is a centre attraction of the festivities in the city. This will be open to public on today from 3 pm to 9 pm and from 9am to 8pm from Monday to Thursday.

Children are also able to enjoy the celebrations as Dohaland holds a six-day exhibition outside the Knowledge Enrichment Centre until Monday.

The exhibition displays a collection of works by school children who participated in the ‘Paint the Doha of Our Dreams’ campaign.

As part of National Day celebrations, the Ritz-Carlton- Doha, set a Guinness World Record with the creation of the largest cake sculpture in the world, designed in the shape of Qatar along with the official sponsor of National Day events of Qatar Foundation for Combating Human Trafficking.

A website for the Qatar’s National Day celebrations was launched to engage the community in the events and activities.

Qatar Airways, the national carrier is holding a special promotion for to mark the National Day. Its official website yesterday read, “A special gift you will cherish Qatar national day to be announced in one day from now.”

Today the Corniche will serve as the centre of celebrations where the day will begin with a military-civilian parade in the morning at 8.30am and a grand-stage for the traditional parade has been set up at the Rumailah family Park. In the evening, a classic car exhibition will feature vehicles of historic and military significance.

Around 40 dhows will form part of another procession starting from the Doha Port between 5pm and 10pm against the backdrop of spectacular lighting. The variety of light, sound and festivity will intensify at 8pm, when a firework will take over the bay with music inspired by Qatari heritage. Nationals and expatriates are expected in large numbers today at the corniche to celebrate the nation’s high profiled National Day.

The Peninsula