Qatar’s annual National Day sends a message of strength to the four countries that are blockading the Gulf nation since June, Qatar’s foreign minister said.
The December 18 holiday marks the date in 1878 when Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani succeeded his father as the Emir and led the country towards unity.
“This year’s celebration will be different than any other year as it comes under the imposed siege that took place months ago, hence the celebration hold new and deep messages to the siege countries about the strength of Qatar,” Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said in a statement to Qatar News Agency (QNA) on Sunday.
The Gulf nation has been marking the day since 2007, following a decree by the then Crown Prince and current Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
A two-day holiday from December 17 to 18 was announced to celebrate the occasion, as Qatar continues to face the blockade, now in its seventh month, imposed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt.
The four nations 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.
“This year’s slogan of ‘Promise of Prosperity and Glory’ is perfectly consistent with the feelings of the people of Qatar at this sensitive time, where they are filled with feelings of pride and are looking forward to prosperity despite the tough and illegal procedures taken by the siege countries,” Al Thani said.
The deputy Prime Minister Al Thani reiterated that the blockade’s “human rights violations are worrisome and dangerous”.
But he added: “The unjust siege carried much good and has been an opportunity to rediscover the potential of the Qatari community, which is full of faith, determination, will, ideas and ambition.”
Ahead of its National Day, Qatar inaugurated its tallest arched monument, Interchange 5/6 on Doha’s Lusail Expressway – reportedly named after the start date of the blockade on June 5.
The prominent steel structure has a height of 100 metres, width of 147 metres, and weighs more than 9,300 tonnes.
As per tradition, a military parade along Doha’s corniche will be held at 3pm on Monday.
Various cultural events will take place across the country throughout the day followed by fireworks at 8pm.
Celebrations were cancelled by the government last year to show solidarity with the people of Aleppo during the offensive by Syrian government forces to retake the city from the rebels.