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The New Arab

Qatar holds National Day celebrations amid Gulf crisis

The annual celebrations on 18 December commemorate the founding of the gas-rich emirate [Getty]

Date of publication: 18 December, 2017

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Qatar celebrated National Day on Monday with traditional dancing and a military parade. Doha also set a Guinness World Record, despite an ongoing diplomatic crisis with its neighbours.

Qatar celebrated National Day on Monday with traditional dancing, a military parade and setting a Guinness World Record, despite an ongoing diplomatic crisis with its neighbours.

Qataris gathered on Monday afternoon to mark the annual celebrations in the capital Doha with a huge fireworks display planned for later in the evening.

The annual celebrations on 18 December commemorate the founding of the gas-rich emirate in 1878.

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani took part in large traditional dance before attending a military parade.

Defence Minister Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah addressed the crowd of thousands, praising the emir.

"Sheikh Tamim's firm response has projected the country and saved the region from becoming lost in a maze," Attiyah said - referring to the ongoing diplomatic crisis with several Gulf states.

Since 5 June, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt have diplomatically isolated Qatar, accusing the emirate of supporting Islamist extremists and of being too close to Iran, Riyadh's arch-rival.

The four countries also cut off all air and sea links to Qatar.

Doha denies the allegations and instead accused the Saudi-led bloc of aiming to incite regime change in Doha.

Ahead of the celebrations, Qataris told The New Arab that the Saudi-led blockade has made the country stronger and more united as ever.

"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 on Sunday.

On Sunday, Qataris set a new world record for the most people contributing to a single portrait.

Almost 14,000 people helped paint the massive portrait of Sheikh Tamim.

Last year, the emir cancelled National Day celebrations in solidarity with the people of Syria's war-ravaged Aleppo.

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