Today, 18 December is National Day in Qatar. The day began with a parade along the Corniche due to start at 8am.The Corniche is the three lane dual carriage way that sweeps around the bay. The carriage ways are separated by a wide grassed central reservation.
I was told that, to get a good viewing spot, you needed to be there early. We set off from our apartment at around 5am for the 15 minute drive to the Corniche. We parked and began the walk to the parade area… but the most direct route was blocked by police who sent us, and all the other people up that early, back through the city and around to the stands that had been built along one side of the Corniche. About 45 minutes later we pushed our way onto the stands and sat down to wait for the parade to begin.
Around us, many people were wearing clothing using the maroon and white colours and design of the Qatari flag.
There were policemen and women stationed at 10 metre intervals.
Eventually at around 8.25am things started. From the skies, a series of parachutists dropped from helicopters.
They landed on the central reservation between the crowds.
Then the parade began… in a way it was two parades as both carriage ways were used. The one furthest from us was an endless stream on military and civil defence vehicles… everything from armoured personnel carriers and tanks and other land weaponry to boats.
Most of it was a little to far away to see, and anyway we were concentrating on what was happening directly in front of us.
Marching music played from huge loud speakers as first came the horsemen.
Then quickly followed by men cleaning up behind the camels.
Next came servicemen carrying the national flag followed by various marching military of different services and divisions.
These were just a few of the ranks of soldiers who marched by.
Back to the skies and a flypast and aerobatics by jets for the Qatari Air Force.
Then more military…
To finish the parade came children… boys first in military uniforms and what looked like automatic weapons… hopefully not real.
Followed by little girls in glittery costumes.
Then finally the Emir appeared, walking along the Corniche, greeting people in the crowds.
We walked back along the Corniche to the hotel close to where we parked, for breakfast.
Festivities continue throughout the day. Hourly there are a series of huge explosion on one of the small islands in the bay with flashes of light and sending maroon and white smoke into the sky. Tonight we’re off to see the fireworks.