Christmas in Qatar used to be a more subtle affair. Now, tinseled trees light up every mall and holiday treats can be found at all supermarkets.
But if the outpouring of reaction to the Dutch St. Nicholas parading down the Pearl is any indication, religion remains a touchy subject in Qatar.
Still, there are hundreds of thousands of Christians here, and, as blogger Kirsty Rice points out, not every expat in Qatar goes home for the holidays.
So how do those who wish to celebrate Christmas here do it without offending any local sensibilities? In a piece for the Telegraph, Rice writes:
Christmas in Doha can be a little bit like looking for the lid to a tupperware container in the back of your cupboard, you know it’s there – you just have to search for it…
Qatar’s finest hotels have elaborate Christmas trees in their foyer, with a handful celebrating their arrival by hosting tree-lighting ceremonies. Turkeys can be found in supermarkets and I believe many of the hotels are now at capacity with Christmas Day bookings. Churchgoers are gathering at the usual times and adding Christmas carols to the repertoire…
In the expat world though, there will still be a gentle sigh of “it just doesn’t feel like Christmas”. If you were to ask why, a variety of answers will follow: the weather isn’t right, traditions have had to be put to the side. But there is always one common answer, the absence of family and close friends. Without these, perhaps it can never really feel like Christmas.
Are you celebrating Christmas in Qatar? Share your stories here!