This public holiday is always celebrated on 18 December. It is the National Day of Qatar and may also be known as 'Founder Day. If 18 December falls on a Friday or Saturday (the weekend in Qatar), then the following Sunday may be given as a one-off public holiday.
Qatar National Day (Al-Yaoum-al-Watani) commemorates 18 December 1878 when Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani succeeded his father, Sheikh Muhammad Bin Thani, as the ruler of Qatar and .
Qatar had started to develop into an important settlement in the eighteenth century. Following periods of control from various local regions, including agreements with the British, the Ottoman Empire arrived in 1871 at the request of the Emir.
On 18 December 1878, Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, succeeded his father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Thani, as ruler of Qatar, becoming its first Emir in a lineage that continues to this day.
Ruling Qatar until his death in 1913, Sultan Jassim is revered in Qatar as 'The Founder' as under his rule he unified the tribes of the peninsula marking the creation of the modern state of Qatar. His leadership, both political and militarily, defined Qatar's status a nation in the view of the two key powers in the region at that time - the Ottomans and the British.
During the first world war, the Ottoman Empire was falling apart as a result of losing a series of key battles. Qatar took part in the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire, forcing the Ottomans from Doha in 1915.
In 1916 Qatar became a British protectorate. Qatar gained independence from the United Kingdom, and became an independent sovereign state on 3 September 1971.
The holiday was established on 21 June 2007 by decree of the Emir and Heir Apparent Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.
It is a time for Qataris to celebrate their national identity and the holiday is marked by a large parade in Doha, the capital of Qatar. The parade is the most popular event of the holiday and features displays from the Qatari military and culminates by an appearance of members of the ruling family.
Did you know?
Doha is the capital city of Qatar. Its name comes from the Arabic word ‘Ad-Dawha’, which means ‘the big tree’.
Other activities include firework displays, demonstrations of traditional skills and sports competitions.