Doha, Qatar – Qatar celebrated National Day amid the ongoing Gulf diplomatic crisis, which appears to have created a greater sense of unity among the nation’s 2.5 million residents.
“This year’s celebration will be different than any other year as it comes under the imposed siege that took place months ago,” Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said in a statement to Qatar News Agency (QNA) on Sunday. “The celebration holds new and deep messages to the siege countries about the strength of Qatar.”
Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt abruptly cut diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of financing “terrorism” and maintaining ties deemed too close with their archrival, Iran. Doha denies the allegations.
Qatari citizens and residents of Doha spoke to Al Jazeera about what this year’s celebrations mean to them.
“This year’s National Day is really special,” said Mohamed Alsherawi, a Qatari citizen. “Especially with the Gulf siege, we actually feel more proud to be part of this nation. We feel more proud of the unity between, not only the nationals, but even the expats. We are celebrating hand-to-hand, together and feeling really happy and proud to be here in Qatar.”
Cassandra Molloy, an Irish teacher, said: “This year, the surge in national pride is palpable. There has been a real sense of unity and resilience among the people living in Doha, both nationals and expats. This year’s celebrations feel so meaningful and symbolic of what Qatar is as a sovereign nation.”