by Raynald rivera
Throughout the holidays, all major venues of the Eid Al Adha Festival attracted huge number of visitors.
Souq Waqif’s Eid Al Adha Festival has been attracting many visitors. At least 25,000 people come to the most popular tourist attraction in the city every day to witness varied shows, the most popular of which is Titan the Robot.
The variety of shows that visitors can still catch until tomorrow at the souq include Snow White show, Magician on a Stick, Bjorn the Polar Bear, Colourful Parade, Dave the Chameleon, Balloonatic, Circus: Mother Africa, Live Statues and Ian Marchant.
The annual Sout Al Rayyan Music Festival has also been a major attraction in the souq with Arabic music fans occupying the 2,000-seat theatre to watch famous Arab singers every night. The nightly shows provide a slice of Arabic traditional flavour to the whole set of shows which appeal to an international audience.
The Pearl Qatar has also joined the celebrations, hosting its own Eid Al Adha festival offering live music entertainment, water screen projections, live bubble show and a dedicated Kids’ Zone where children could enjoy many activities. The activities had been distributed around Porto Arabia to reach out to more Eid revellers.
The Museum of Islamic Art, Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani Museum and Al Dosari Zoo and Natural Reserve were also opened for public visits during Eid holidays.
Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) added more excitement to the celebrations with activities such as paragliding tour organised by Qatar Air Sports Committee in Sealine and shooting practice at the Lusail Shooting Club by Qatar Shooting and Archery Association. While paragliding tours extend until Monday, shooting practices would be held until Saturday next week.
In coming up with the programme for this year’s festival, QTA partnered with more organisations in the country, including the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage; the Museum of Islamic Art, Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum; the Qatar Shooting and Archery Association, the Pearl Qatar, Katara, Sawt Al Rayan; Qatar Air Sports Committee; the Imam Muhammed Bin Abdul Wahhab mosque, Aquapark Qatar; Al Dosari Zoo and the Natural Reserve and some malls.
Some people believed QTA should keep organising these programmes on a regular basis throughout the year, not only during Eid holidays.
“Despite traffic we really enjoyed the Eid celebrations. No need to go abroad because weather in Doha is now pleasant, which provides a good chance for people to go out, dine in restaurants and visit resorts,” said Ahmad Al Emadi.
The full opening of the Corniche road to traffic in time for Eid holidays contributed to a better experience for people, which made travelling to some Eid venues hassle-free, although some roads around the city are still congested because of a number of ongoing works.
Traffic police had to block a part of the Ali Bin Abdullah Street near Souq Waqif because of the high volume of vehicles coming to the souq, including a huge number of tourists, mostly from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
“We are very tired of what’s going on in Syria. We failed to contact our family there, but being in Souq Waqif, at least, makes us feel better because everyone here is happy,” Mohammed Issa, a Syrian national, told Arabic daily Al Watan.
Saleh Nasser Al Khulaifi, another Syrian, echoed similar sentiments: “Souq Waqif is a happy and ideal place for everyone to enjoy this Eid. This is the best place for entertainment because we don’t feel like strangers in Doha.”
Not only did people come to Souq Waqif to watch the shows but also buy at the long line of antique, souvenir, spice and garment shops which made their visit a total experience.
The place was also secure with police security beefed up, which was lauded by many. The police, they said, could be seen everywhere around the souq and had been of great help to tourists.
Despite the success of the Eid festival, however, some citizens expressed frustration and discontentment.
According to Jassim Al Kuwari, this Eid programme was not as big as what QTA organised before.
“The Eid Al Fitr festival was bigger than this. The QTA should organise the same programme,” he told Al Raya.
Compared to last Eid Al Fitr, more tourists from neighbouring countries came to Qatar to spend Eid Al Adha because of the pleasant weather, some citizens said.
“But some citizens shunned the Eid Al Adha celebrations here because of lack of good programmes. The QTA should provide good programmes for citizens and expatriates to improve domestic tourism,” said Hussain Al Marri.
Omar Al Emadi agreed, saying: “Lots of people left the country soon after they had greeted their relatives and neighbours on the first day of Eid Al Adha. They went to other countries, where they could enjoy because of more entertainment options.”
He rued he could not find a good venue to celebrate Eid Al Adha because all venues were filled with people, such as Sealine which was full of single workers and lacked adequate facilities.
“Qatar has a number of resorts which should be utilised to improve domestic tourism. They can take advantage of major occasions such as Eid Al Adha to organise programmes there for the purpose,” said Abdulaziz Al Bouenain.
Fatahi Al Hamidi said the programme for Eid Al Adha was not enough and “the long Eid holiday forced families to go to neighbouring countries where more of such programmes are being held”.
He said those families who chose to stay in Qatar just sat inside their homes because of limited number of places where the events were held such as Katara, Souq Waqif and some malls. Hussain Hadad, on the other hand, wondered why there was no entertainment city unlike last Eid Al Fitr and the Eid festival last year.
“They did not think of the youngsters while planning the programme. While some youth remained bored at home, some decided to go camping in the outskirts,” he said.
Yusuf Al Kuwari believed the private sector could take care of organising future Eid events. He said competition among private companies would lead to better and more attractive events.
Eid festivals had been organised by the QTA to elevate Qatar as a family tourism destination that was supported with QTA’s launch of the Eid destination campaign in the GCC earlier this year.
Nearly 75,000 people from the GCC visited Qatar during last Eid Al Fitr holidays and occupancy rates then reached more than 80 percent in many hotels, with some recording 100 per cent, according to the QTA.