Qatar National Day
Written by Karen Martin
Amidst the National Day Parade and fireworks along Doha’s Corniche, Qatar National Day is a time to reflect on Qatar’s rich past and celebrate its ambitions for the future.
Qatar National Dayis the day Qatari citizens remember how their national unity was achieved and how Qatar became a distinct and respected nation.
On December 18, 1878 Sheikh Jassim succeeded his father Sheikh Mohammed Bin Thani as the ruler, and went on to unify the Qatari Peninsula and safeguard the interests of its people.
This national occasion brings Qatar’s identity and history to the forefront, embodies the ideals and visionary aspirations that the country was founded on, and pays homage to the men and women who participated in building the nation.
It is a day for Qatar to renew its bond with its heritage while adapting to modern times, to strive for progress without forsaking its Arab and Islamic identity.
Today, Qatar’s history and rich traditions are still the beating heart of its modern development. Doha’s earliest homes were traditional adobe courtyard houses, creating a low skyline punctuated only by the domes and minarets of mosques. Homes were simple dwellings of one or two rooms, built from mud, stone, and coral on a closely woven network of streets and passageways that provided shelter from the intense midsummer heat.
The discovery and development of the nation’s oil and gas resources resulted in a rapid population boom, transforming Doha’s landscape and skyline. New suburbs and business districts emerged quickly, in an array of architectural styles. The transformation from a small trading and fishing hub to a modern metropolis over a few decades resulted in vast changes to the way of life of its residents and their sense of community.
The old downtown district of Msheireb (meaning ‘a place to drink water’) originally centred around a single well whose reserves inspired a community to put down roots there. Now, that original site is home to the world’s first fully sustainable downtown regeneration project, Msheireb Downtown Doha. The project aims to restore the old ways of life, traditional sense of community, and strong sense of culture and heritage.
Integrating the true spirit and aesthetics of Qatari architecture with modern technology, the aim of the project is to counteract the depletion of Qatar’s unique cultural and architectural heritage, and attract residents back to the city centre.
It represents the vision of Msheireb Properties’ chairperson Her Highness Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser to create built environments that reflect the culture and aspirations of the people of Qatar. “Reflecting on our history, it is clear that communities in Qatar have always been close-knit,” she says. “People lived and worked together in harmony with the climate, with the land, and with each other. We had our own ways of dealing with our environment that was sustainable and human in scale, often building our homes together as a family.
“At the core of our company, there is a commitment to remain true to the traditions and customs that make us distinctive as Qataris,” she adds. “Msheireb Properties will test the boundaries of architecture and urban planning in Qatar to balance the best of today with the best of the past, creating a beautiful legacy for the future and a vibrant new community at the heart of the capital city.”
The 31-hectare, QR20 billion mixed-use development will comprise more than 100 buildings, with a combination of commercial and residential properties, intimate neighbourhoods, landscaped open spaces, arcaded streets, high-quality shopping and dining areas, and a rich mix of cultural and entertainment areas.
Paying homage to Qatar’s rich heritage, the project will both restore sites of cultural significance in the development and establish a number of noteworthy institutions that will enhance society. The first phase, referred to as the ‘Diwan Amiri Quarter’, currently under construction, features three major government buildings, heritage sites, a museum, cultural forum, National Archive, and Eid Prayer Ground. Sustainability is central to the Msheireb Downtown project, in terms of both the conservation of natural resources and the quality of its design. The entire project features sustainable design that consumes fewer resources, generates less waste, costs less to operate, and achieves a reduced carbon footprint.
“Qatar has made rapid progress and is set for further growth aligned with the Qatar National Vision 2030,” says Msheireb Properties’ chief executive officer Eng. Issa M. Al Mohannadi. “Msheireb Downtown Doha will create a new standard for urban environments that will be socially engaging, culturally enriching, and environmentally sustainable, in a way that is uniquely born of Qatari heritage and culture.”
A community spirit, respect for tradition, and responsibility for the environment are rooted in Qatari culture and are characteristics that will take the country forward as citizens proudly celebrate Qatar’s history and vision for the future.
Until January 19, 2013, Arabick Roots is the latest in a series of temporary exhibitions at the Museum of Islamic Art, exploring the movement of scientific knowledge and cultural mores from the Muslim world to Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The thirst for knowledge shown by scientists such as Boyle, Halley, and Hevelius led them to cross linguistic, religious, and ethnic boundaries in search of answers to the pressing problems of the day. This exhibition celebrates not only their work but also that of the great Muslim scientists, such as Ibn al-Haytham, al-Farghani, and Ulugh Beg, who inspired them.
The Msheireb project is divided into five broad districts that determine the purpose of the urban spaces:
Diwan Amiri Quarter
Mixed-Use and Residential Quarter