Prof. Mohammad Ramzan Ali Miya
On the glorious occasion of the National Day of the State of Qatar celebrated on 18 December, we, the Nepalese community living in Qatar, express our sincere gratitude to the people of Qatar, who invested their efforts and demonstrated allegiance and loyalty to their country and to the founder Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, as a father, brother, leader, and imam. The spirit with which Qatar observes the National Day upholds its faith in the principles on which the country was founded, and expresses the strength of the people and this land.
Qatar National Day, also known as the Founder’s Day, commemorates the country’s unification in 1878, and marks the day Sheikh Jassim Bin Mohammad Bin Thani succeeded his father as the leader of the tribes of Qatar.
Qatar National Day is celebrated on December 18 each year. It celebrates the rise of Sheikh Jassim as the father and founder of Qatar. It is a day for the people of Qatar to celebrate the rebirth of their country.
Qatar is a wealthy nation and is widely recognized as a place for commercial activities in the new world. The National Day celebrates such history and acknowledges the contribution of those who have worked hard towards making it what it is now. The country has kept its traditions and history alive over time. Thus the occasion is worth celebrating.
History of Qatar National Day
Qatar National Day was, for the first time, announced by Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the then crown prince of Qatar, on 21 June 2007 to commemorate the unification of Qatar by Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, who created a manageable level of autonomy for the peninsular tribes in 1878 and abated intruders such as the British. The day is also called Founder’s Day. It holds a high significance for the Qatari people and reminds them of their unity and core values: loyalty, solidarity, and pride. Initially, this day was celebrated on September 3, which coincides with Qatar’s attainment of independence in 1971, but it was later changed to December 18. The unification, being thus commemorated, entails many battles for survival and independence. Qatar was formerly dependent on the Bahraini Al Khalifas on the eastern seaboard of the Qatari peninsula, but hatred brewed and rebels rose against the Khalifas, who sent their naval forces to destroy the rebels in Al Wakrah in 1867, contravening the General Maritime Treaty of 1820. The British then responded diplomatically by reprimanding Bahrain and negotiating with Qatar ruled by Sheik Muhammed bin Thani, whose dynasty continues to rule the State till today. In 1916, Qatar became a British protectorate and was only able to become independent after the British disengaged politically from the Persian Gulf. This was officially announced in 1968 as a result of the strain from the Second World War.
Since the time he was quite young, Sheikh Jassim was known for his piety, courage, spirit of sacrifice, wisdom and diligence. The people of Qatar believed in him as a leader who could unify the peninsula, and look after the interests of its people during one of the darkest times in history experienced by this part of the world. It was a time of tribal wars on land and piracy and robbery at the sea. The same time also witnessed the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The celebration of the National Day, on December 18 each year, commemorates the day when the late emir, His Highness Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, the founder of modern Qatar, assumed the rule of the country in 1878.
As evidenced by the events and many documents of the time, Sheikh Jassim had deep understanding of noble humanitarian values and had firm convictions necessary to achieve justice and provide security, not only the Qataris but also to the aggrieved and the oppressed people elsewhere. In addition, Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed was keen, since his youth years, to learn and enhance knowledge. He considered learning a fundamental value that should be encouraged and nurtured. The Arab and Islamic history glorifies Sheikh Jassim for deeds that are achievable by only by a few. During emir Jassim’s reign, Doha became a beacon for learning and knowledge, teaming with crowds of senior jurists and judges from all over the Islamic world. The emir’s passion for knowledge and learning was evidenced in the large number of reference books brought in from India and Egypt, or published, at his own expense, to be distributed to teachers and students in Qatar and neighbouring countries. Sheikh Jassim believed that he and his country had a mission to lead the religious and scientific revival of this region, and that the combination of religion and science was likely to rid communities of evils, injustice and intolerance.
When we recall the founder, we remember his keenness in preserving the sanctity and dignity of his homeland, and his solid stand against anyone who would endeavour to attack or dominate Qatar. When we recall the Alwajba Battle, we remember the wise leadership of Sheikh Jassim and the solid confrontation he launched against the Ottoman viceroy. Despite the great power of the latter, Allah helped the Qataris to defeat the Ottomans. Throughout these events, Sheikh Jassim was a leading knight and a wise negotiator. When the Ottoman regime started allying itself with tyranny, the Sheikh could not keep himself tolerant to such injustice. Therefore in March 1893, the dignified Sheikh, who was approaching his seventies, fought a decisive battle against the Ottomans and defeated them, stressing the independence of the Qatari decision-making. One of the results of this battle was that the Turks had to surrender to his command.
The reign of Sheikh Jassim was characterized by security, justice and prosperity in social, economic and all other aspects of life. This was evidenced by the fact that Qatar became one of the largest pearl exporters and traders. Sheikh Jassim died on 17 July 1913, after a life full of achievements, and his son Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani succeeded him as the new ruler of Qatar.
Day after day, and generation after the other, the Qataris have been following the teachings of their ancestors, to complete the process of modernization, development and prosperity of their country, adding laurels to their glorious past, and writing a bright page in the history of humanity as a whole, under the wise leadership of His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani.
The Qataris, on their National Day, emphasize their pride and make it imperative on their parts to work diligently to document their history and heritage, which represents the collective memory of their country. It is also important to take advantage of the modern technology to preserve their heritage and make it available to future generations. By doing so, they try to link the past to the present, and combining authenticity with modernity, they attempt to gain more energy and strength to realize their hopes and dreams.
In celebration of the National Day, the Qataris decorate their cars and houses by hoisting the national flag and hanging pictures of other patriotic symbols. The country’s flag is a unique combination of national identity and pride, a symbol of dignity and belonging.
The State of Qatar takes pride in its people who have preserved their unity and values. The National Day serves as an annual reminder of the country’s core values: loyalty, solidarity and pride. It’s a day to get inspired from the past, celebrate the present, and gaze at the future – a promising future that preserves the country’s rich heritage and identity for generations to come.
The diplomatic, consular, and representative missions of the State of Qatar abroad celebrate the National Day each year, in commemoration of the memory of the founder of the State of Qatar Sheikh Jassim Bin Mohammed Bin Thani. Their Excellencies and Heads of the diplomatic missions, consulars, and representatives of the missions of the State of Qatar abroad wait for this opportunity to extend assurances of their highest considerations to HH the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, HH The Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani and all the people of the State of Qatar, wishing the State of Qatar further progress and prosperity. The Qatari diplomatic celebrations in the capitals and cities of the world see high-level official and popular participations that reflect Qatar’s distinct relations with the world countries.
Since its foundation as a nation in 1878, the State of Qatar has flourished, growing from a small nation in the Gulf whose economy was based on pearl trading, to the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas with a strong global presence. It is proud of its amazing cultural heritage and traditions, but have also embraced modernity. Presently, it is moving ahead in accordance with Qatar National Vision 2030, to fulfil which, it has set before itself the aim of building a strong, vibrant and diversified economy based on sustainable development by setting modern infrastructure to serve all sectors.
This year, all mega events, including parade, fireworks and other celebrations to mark the National Day have also been cancelled, as decreed by the emir, to show Qatar’s solidary with the people of Aleppo who lost hundreds of precious lives, including those of innocent children, to shelling by the Syrian forces. The official Qatari news agency reports, “In solidarity with our people in the city of Aleppo, those who are subjected to the worst kind of repression and torture, displacement and genocide, his Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Emir of Qatar, has ordered cancellation of all celebrations and events of the national day.” The cancellation decision has also been taken, taking in due account the present condition of unrest in the Middle East. All the important events have been suspended to express Qatar’s solidarity with the people of Palestine. Only yesterday, Qatar lost its friend, High Highness Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jabar Al-Sabah, the Emir of Kuwait, and the cancellation of the celebration is also in condolence to His Highness’ untimely demise. The private sector has been granted a paid leave of a single day, following the demise. We the Nepalese living in Qatar also stand with Kuwait, together with the state of Qatar, in mourning the demise, and express our grief in this hour of difficulty.
Following all these developments, Qatar has also withheld the revelation of the National Day slogan for this year. In the past, it used to announce a unique slogan for each year, quoting it from the writings of its founding father Sheikh Jassim Bin Mohammed Bin Thani. The slogan has a great significance for its noble messages that expresses the strength and pride of Qatar’s people and the foundations of faith upon which the country was founded. To have an estimation of what the slogans sounded like, I hereby quote some of the slogans from the past few years:
The path of excellence is difficult
Ten years embraced glory and arts …
Obtained all excellence and manliness (Slogan, 2019)
We praise you, the Lord of the Throne,
We accept your judgment in all actions. (Slogan, 2020)
Ancestral meadows; a matter of trust. (Slogan, 2021)
Our unity: Source of our strength (Slogan, 2022)
On behalf of the Nepalese community in Qatar, I wish the State of Qatar a “Happy National Day 2023”. May it garner more prosperity, happiness, development and peace! Qatar, as all of us know, is a destination for millions of Nepali migrant workers. The remittance they send home is a backbone to the Nepalese economy. Besides providing employment, Qatar has also helped Nepal in other fronts. For example, it was among the first few countries to stand with Nepal during the devastating earthquake 2015, sending its rescue team with relief materials and medicines. The medical relief Qatar provided to Nepal during the COVID-19 can in no way be forgotten. There are multiple other avenues, including education, tourism and energy in which the countries have been working together. These ties and collaborations, I believe, will increase even further in the days to come.
We, the Nepalis living in Qatar wish the nation of our fortune all success and unprecedented development in the days to come. May Qatar shine even brighter in the days to come!
(Prof. Miya is the President of Nepal-Qatar Friendship Society and is based in Doha, Qatar.)