Today is the 18 December. We have just returned home after watching the National Day Parade. We started the day by arriving on the Corniche at 6am to ensure a seat. Last year we made the mistake of being on the waterside, which meant standing for over four hours and being crushed as everyone strained for a view.
This year was the most well organised we have attended. There was much more seating available. Not only did it start precisely on time, but it was also more compact than in the two previous years.
The parade of children started at 7.30am, whereas in previous years it was tacked onto the end when everyone was ready to leave. The last two parades appeared to include every soldier and every piece of military hardware in the country. I’m not a military tactician, but I am guessing that concentrating all your soldiers and guns in a one kilometre stretch of the city at the same time is not a good idea… this year there were just fewer of everything. Each branch of the military was represented by only one block of marching servicemen.
Behind us sat a Qatari man with his five daughters and one son. When the National Anthem was played, his entire family proudly and loudly sung the words. We chatted to him as we watched the soldiers march by. He asked where we were from. He seemed pleased we were from the UK. He then talked of the British media and its regular attacks on his country. He seemed genuinely bewildered and hurt by all the negative press. He knew his country was not perfect. He was pleased that we enjoyed living in Qatar, and to see all the different nationalities who had made Qatar home, albeit a temporary one, together for his county’s National Day. The parade was over in 45 minutes. I enjoyed feeling part of the celebrations.