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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Qatar hotels strive to balance National Day and Christmas festivities

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All photos by Chantelle D’mello

With final preparations and pre-celebrations for Qatar National Day in full swing, many hotels across Doha have swapped out green and red color schemes for maroon and white.

National Day decorations will take precedence across most establishments for the Dec. 18 event, in line with guidelines issued by the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) last week that urged hotels to show their patriotism. In a statement, the authority said:

“QTA called on all hotels in Qatar to fly the Qatari flag in front of their hotels and distribute Qatari flags to their guests, and decorate their entrances and reception areas in special ways to reflect the country’s festive atmosphere.

QTA also urged hotels to come up with new ideas to create a special national look and feel on the National Day.”

The tourism body is also organizing a competition to find the best-dressed hotel front, adding, “Hotels are invited to take part to lend some stylish elegance to the occasion and add to the spirit of the celebration.”

Christmas on hold

As such, Christmas festivities have been put on hold in most hotels this week.

Some establishments, including the Ritz Carlton, the Four Seasons and St. Regis, kicked off December with elaborate Christmas events including tree lighting ceremonies and visits from Santa Claus.

And while gingerbread houses, baubles and tinsel can still be seen in most lobbies, the trees themselves have either been taken down or will be temporarily covered up in deference to Qatar National Day.

National Day at Four Seasons
National Day at Four Seasons

This juggling of festivities is in contrast to last year, when some hotels canceled Christmas-related events after receiving a directive from the Qatar Tourism Authority about National Day celebrations.

The opulent, white and crystal-themed tree that stands in the St. Regis lobby will remain in place, but will be covered with a Qatari flag for Dec. 18, “out of respect for National Day,” PR and Communications Manager Kaaren Pfeffer confirmed to Doha News.

The Ritz-Carlton, which is part of the state-backed Katara Hospitality group, held a very well-attended Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Dec. 3, with carols, mince pies and a 15ft high tree outside in the garden.

However, a hotel employee confirmed that the tree has been removed ahead of National Day. An official spokesperson declined to discuss the issue with Doha News and would not say if it would be re-instated after Thursday’s celebrations. A gingerbread house remains in the lobby.

The Four Seasons hotel also held Christmas festivities on Dec. 3 on its lawn, with Santa arriving on the beach by jet ski. Its tree, which was in the garden, was taken down due to several other events being held at the hotel.

It will be re-installed in the hotel lobby on Dec. 19, a hotel official said.

“It’s all about striking a balance,” Marketing Director Julian Crane told Doha News. 

While the hotel’s other Christmas decorations will remain throughout its public areas, the lobby will be dedicated to National Day with a centerpiece of flowers in the color of the Qatari flag.

“We really wanted to get behind National Day, and some time ago decided to have a week of celebrations rather than just one day,” Crane said.

“But this is not at the expense of Christmas. We support both celebrations and I feel we have found the right balance,” he added.

And in a move that avoids a clash of celebrations, the Doha Marriott hotel – which is also part of Katara Hospitality – has planned its tree lighting event for Dec. 19.

A Christmas display at InterContinental Doha – The City.
A Christmas display at InterContinental Doha – The City.

Christmas-focused celebrations will get fully underway in many of the international hotels after National Day, with gingerbread house decorating sessions and carols accompanying afternoon tea as popular features.

The spiced, sweet biscuits that are popular at this time of year take pride of place in several lobbies, with an entire gingerbread village adding a festive flair to the atrium at the Intercontinental – The City.

Where will you be going to enjoy the upcoming festivities? Thoughts?

10 COMMENTS

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outdoorsboys
outdoorsboys
6 years ago

Nice to see that some embrace differences and see similarities. Expats of all nations colours and religions will be celebrating National Day, as they do Ramadan, as they will do at Christmas and New Year Celebrations. Merry Christmas and a Happy Healthy and Wealthy 2015 to all my fellow Expats and all our Qatari hosts.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago

I think its great that the hotels etc are acknowledging the Christian celebration… its a nice step towards acceptance of all regardless of faith….well done Qatar.

johnny wang
johnny wang
6 years ago

Diversity and having respect for other cultures, their way of life and the experience of sharing the happy times with others makes it that much more wonderful and special

SparkyfaeDalry
SparkyfaeDalry
6 years ago

I was at Dubai at the weekend and was surprised and impressed by the large amount of Christmas trees, artificial snow and other items within the Malls, there was even Christmas carols playing over the PA systems, these stopped for call to pray then resumed, I agree with a bit of respect for both cultures, Merry Christmas to my Muslim friends.

Althani
Althani
6 years ago
Reply to  SparkyfaeDalry

I like the part when you said ‘stopped for call to pray’ It really is a nice mix of all different cultures.

Huzz
Huzz
6 years ago

Merry Christmas and a happy National Day to everyone. I also implore everyone to drive carefully especially where children are concerned on National Day.

Blue
Blue
6 years ago

So I’m guessing I cannot wear my Santa costume on the corniche tomorrow!

Happy national day to all my Qatari friends and compliments of the season to everyone.

Ben
Ben
6 years ago
Reply to  Blue

Maybe you can get a maroon and white Santa outfit?

Waveydavey
Waveydavey
6 years ago

Why not join the two? Christmas trees covered in Qatari flags and white and mauve lights and baubles!! Lovely!!

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago

Where will you be going to enjoy the upcoming festivities? That rather depends on whether the season of goodwill extends to your exit visa.

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