Baby’s moves are less Qatari, and more Kaapse Klopse
hour traffic – which is pretty much all day on the congested roads of Qatar’s capital city.
Not only are the locals hooting, many passengers are waving the Qatari national flag while sitting on the roofs of their cars. I’ve never seen so many maroon-and-white Toyota Landcruisers, with owners painting their 4x4s in the colours of the national flag for the day.
Yes, Qataris are a proud people, and national fervour is never more evident than on December 18, which marks the date in 1878 when Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani succeeded his father as ruler and unified the various tribes in the state.
Qatar is in a festive mood in the days leading up to December 18, culminating in a sea of activity on the big day. This year promised even more fireworks than usual – literally and figuratively – as many companies decided to close on the Thursday after the public holiday. It meant a four-day break for many, with Friday and Saturday constituting the regular weekend in Qatar.
The marquee event of the day happens early in the morning on Doha’s Corniche, and features the National Day Parade, with Qatar’s emir usually in attendance. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani recently succeeded his father as ruler of Qatar and this year’s National Day festivities are his first in his new role, adding to the excitement in the country.
The Bawas, though, are hoping to partake in the celebrations at the Katara Cultural Village – if we can survive the traffic and hooting, that is. Katara, located between the downtown West Bay area and the upmarket Pearl Lagoon development, is home to the Doha Film Institute, art galleries and an impressive amphitheatre that has hosted entertainers like South Africa’s Johnny Clegg.
Finally, we reach our destination, and make our way to the amphitheatre, just in time to watch members of the Qatar Army perform a military parade.
Their marching and coordination are impressive, with batons swirling and trumpets blaring, all with precision timing.
The spectacle is made all the more impressive by the sight of parachutists belonging to the Qatari Lekhwiya (Internal Security Force) preparing to land on the beach nearby after completing a training exercise.
“Aqeel, Saabirah, this is pretty cool, hey?” I notice their fidgeting, and gather boredom is starting to kick in. Yaqeen, though, seems to just be getting started. Wriggling out of his mother’s arms, he starts jiggling and jiving, every so often grabbing the scarf of the woman seated in front of him for support.
“Well, he was born here, after all,” smiles Shihaam. “Sure, but it’s not like he gets citizenship,” I reply, a bit too defensively.
And it’s true, even though Yaqeen was born in Qatar, he is still regarded as an expat under the country’s residency rules.
And then I realise why Yaqeen is having such a good time, dancing away. The band has been playing the score from Last of the Mohicans, the hit 1992 movie starring Daniel Day Lewis, which was composed by District Six-born Trevor Jones.
Yep, no doubt about it, amid the heritage, holiday and hooting, one thing is for sure – Yaqeen’s moves are less Qatari and more Kaapse Klopse. Follow Bawa on Twitter