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Sunday, Dec. 20 to be official holiday in Qatar (updated)


2014 Qatar National Day rehearsal
2014 Qatar National Day rehearsal

Updated on Dec. 19 with health and government timings

Qatar’s Emiri Diwan has declared Sunday, Dec. 20 off because the National Day holiday falls on the weekend.

The announcement, which was posted on QNA after 11pm last night, puts an end to days of speculation about whether Qatar would offer an extra day off for employees since QND is on Friday this year.

QNA reports:

“The Emiri Diwan announces that on the occasion of the National Day of the State, corresponding to December 18, 2015 it has been decided that Sunday December 20, 2015 will be an official holiday and that employees shall resume their duties on Monday.”

This means that most of Qatar’s ministries, government institutions and public entities, as well as banks and financial institutions, will be closed on Sunday.

However, the Ministry of Interior has said certain services, including Passports and Expatriates Affairs, Traffic Department and Criminal Evidence and Information Department will be open from 8am to noon.

Various healthcare centers around Qatar will also have altered timings tomorrow. Here’s the full schedule.

Emiri Diwan
Emiri Diwan

Many in the private sector will also be off, though this may depend on the employer, as some people were given Thursday off in anticipation of the public holiday.

National Day has been celebrated in Qatar on Dec. 18 since 2008. The last time it fell on a Friday was in 2009, when the government declared more than a week in advance that the day before, Dec. 17, would be a holiday.

The following year, when QND fell on a Saturday, the Emiri Diwan declared Sunday, Dec. 19 to be a holiday in an announcement just ahead of the start of the weekend.

Budget cuts

Despite the precedent, some residents expressed concerns that officials would not grant an extra day off this year amid financial austerity measures.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

This week, the Emir approved a new budget that will include massive cuts ahead of a forecasted financial shortfall, Qatar’s first in 15 years.

Meanwhile, also in honor of QND, Sheikh Tamim pardoned several prisoners yesterday as is the annual tradition, according to QNA.

More information on those who are expected to be released will be disclosed by various embassies in the coming weeks.

Happy National Day! Thoughts?

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