News ID: 206418
Published: 0903 GMT December 18, 2017

Qatar marks National Day amid Persian Gulf crisis

Qatar marks National Day amid Persian Gulf crisis
7EVENSHOTS

Qatar is celebrating National Day amid the ongoing Persian Gulf diplomatic crisis, which appears to have created a greater sense unity among the nation's 2.5 million residents.

The annual holiday is observed on December 18 to mark the date in 1878 when Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani succeeded his father as the emir and led the country towards unity, Al Jazeera reported.

A two-day holiday from December 17-18 was announced by Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on Saturday.

With 300 mini-drones up in the sky, Qatar's residents were treated to a synchronized airshow on Sunday night — also planned for Monday — at the waterfront of Katara cultural village in the capital, Doha.

A military parade along Doha's corniche will be held at 3:00 p.m. on Monday.

Various cultural events will take place across the country throughout the day followed by fireworks at 8:00 p.m.

Celebrations were cancelled by the government last year to show solidarity with the people of Aleppo during the offensive by Syrian government forces to retake the city from the rebels.

This year's festivities take place as Qatar continues to face a blockade, now in its seventh month, imposed by some of its Persian Gulf neighbors.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, and Bahrain cut diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of financing ‘terrorism’ and maintaining too close of ties to Iran. Doha denies the allegations.

Qatar's residents – nationals and expatriates – told Al Jazeera what this year's National Day means to them and how they will be celebrating.

"This year's National Day is really special. Especially with the Persian Gulf siege, we actually feel more proud to be part of this nation. We feel more proud of the unity between not only the nationals but even the expats. We are celebrating hand-to-hand, together and feeling really happy and proud to be here in Qatar."

"This is our first National day and I didn't think this feeling of pride could be possible for a country far from mine. We had a bad experience with the blockade. I was happy in Doha so far but did not know much about the government. After the grace, the eloquence and the strength showed by our ruler, my chest filled with pride. Never a national day in my country was so meaningful until this upcoming one in this foreign land."

"With the ongoing Persian Gulf crisis, I appreciate this country not just because of the benefits and opportunities given to me but more due to the honor and privilege of being part of this country. We never participated in any of the events before, but this year we are in full anticipation and excited to watch the parade. We want our kids to see that this day is worth celebrating.

"This year, I have seen a real cohesion with the expat and local communities. I think the siege has really united us but also reminded us what a safe, welcoming and vibrant country this is."

   
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