Qatar National Day is a holiday in Qatar celebrated every 18th of December. It is a national commemoration of Qatar’s unification and independence that eventualized to the founding of the state of Qatar. Although Qatar did not become an independent sovereign state until 1971, the Qatar National Day has been established by a June 21, 2007 decree of the Emir and Heir Apparent Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.
Sheikh Jassim Bin Mohammad Bin Thani was proclaimed to be the founder of the State of Qatar. He was born in 1826 and grew up in Fuwairat until Sheikh Mohammad Bin Thani, his father, moved to El-Bidda. Sheikh Jassim Bin Mohammad Bin Thani began running regime affairs during the life of his father, Sheikh Mohammad Bin Thani, by reason of his illness in 1876. In 1867 the Al Khalifa military of Bahrain launched a successful effort to crush the Qatari rebels, sending a massive naval force to Al Wakrah. However, the Bahraini aggression was in violation of the 1820 Anglo-Bahraini Treaty. The diplomatic response of the British to this violation set into motion the political forces that would eventuate in the founding of the state of Qatar on December 18, 1878. Qataris describe this event as Qatar’s First War of Independence.
Qatar National Day is a national holiday on which Qataris convey their deepest expressions of affection and gratitude to the people who vowed allegiance to the founder, trusting him as a father, brother, leader, and Imam. In him they found a man who had already distinguished himself in his youth as a pious, brave, self-sacrificing, and wise leader. He was keen on unifying the Qatari Peninsula and safeguarding the interests of its people in the darkest of times ever witnessed by this part of the world. Qatar National Day remembers how their national unity was achieved and how they became a distinct nation out of a society of conflicting tribes, devoid of security and order. It was a time of tribal wars on land and piracy and pillage at sea. It was a time that witnessed the retreat of the Ottoman Empire and the decline of its power and that of the growing influence of the British Empire in the region. Interests and loyalties were shifting; conflicts and disorder were spreading anew in the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf region. But Sheikh Jassim Bin Mohammad Bin Thani withstood these storms and momentous changes and navigated Qatar to a safe harbour.
On this day, Qataris take opportunity in expressing affection and gratitude to the people of Qatar who cooperated in solidarity and vowed allegiance and obedience to Shaikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani as a leader. Qataris give back to their forefathers their lives, their institutions, universities and media into guiding beacons of knowledge and righteousness and to bring well-being to all humanity. Qataris require that they renew their bond to their heritage and adapt to modern times those parts of it which are best and most useful. On this day, Qataris strive to ensure progress, but without forsaking Arab and Islamic identity.