Friday, December 16, 2011

Happy Birthday Qatar

When I last lived in Qatar, the annual public holiday was 3rd September: Qatar Independence Day, celebrating becoming an independent sovereign state in 1971. Nowadays that celebration has been replaced by 18th December: Qatar National Day, which celebrates the creation of the State of Qatar in 1878.

So this weekend is a long weekend. Sunday 18th is a public holiday. For the past couple of weeks, maroon and white flags have been appearing all over town, all over buildings, fences and even cars. Even the English fashion for miniature flags on plastic poles cranked into car windows has been adopted, although not with the cross of St George, obviously.

Anticipating craziness, I think I'll be avoiding the town centre and the Corniche. On a drive up to a meeting last Thursday, I noticed public seating, refreshment marquees and public-address systems being erected all along the Corniche. The piles of temporary barriers, inevitably resplendent in the Qatari flag, suggest that the road's going to be closed for the celebrations. There will surely be traffic chaos.

This year there's apparently an edict that cars shall not be decorated. The ruling has been roundly ignored. Yesterday I saw several Land Cruisers and Cayennes covered completely in images of the flag, national emblem, and the royal family. By completely, I don't mean the chassis (probably), but I do include all the windows. One of these vehicles was parked on the roadside near the TV station, and the driver was explaining himself to a police officer.

Imagine a similar thing in the UK: Fervent patriot bedecks his British car in red and white and then gets busted by a uniformed policeman of Sudanese origin because it's impossible to see clearly out of any of the car windows. Outraged letters to the Daily Mail ensue.

There are going to be exuberant celebrations, I'm sure. I hope that everyone has a great time and, in the inevitable motorised celebrations, that nobody gets hurt.

Have fun, everyone!

]}:-{>

3 comments:

Paraglider said...

I've never quite understood why the locals choose to celebrate by staging the mother of all traffic jams. The firework display was good though, especially from the vantage point of the Sofitel 12th floor balcony, with a beer close at hand.

Grumpy Goat said...

I watched the fireworks from the roof. Over 4km distant, and I went outside because the noise was rattling the windows.

i*maginate said...

didnt know you were in q
fantastic post
love to learn about craziness abroad, nothing like i've witnessed here at home. can just imagine...

 

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