One common question I’m asked is how is it that Qatar changed National Day’s date? It never changed. They’re thinking of Independence day, which is on the 3rd of September.
On 18 December 1878, Sheikh Jassem bin Mohamed bin Thani succeeded his father as the ruler of Qatar. With that, Qatar became a country with a vision… a country that would find unity, grow rapidly, and reach toward ever higher heights.
National Day, also known as Founder’s Day, celebrates the rise of Sheikh Jassem as the father and founder of the State of Qatar. And yet this holiday is just a few years old: it was founded in 2007 to give people an occasion to honour the history and identity of their country, and to commemorate those who have worked and continue to work to make Qatar a great nation.
The 18th of December is a special day – a day of unity for the people of Qatar.
Now let’s talk about pre-independence. Qatar was in quite a mess during the Arab revolt against the Ottomans. After the Ottoman empire collapsed, Qatar became a British protectorate on 3 November 1916. On that day, the United Kingdom, in order to bring Qatar under its Trucial System of Administration, signed a treaty with Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani. While Sheikh Abdullah agreed not to enter into any relations with any other power without prior consent of the British Government, Percy Zachariah Cox, the Political Resident in the Persian Gulf, who signed the treaty on behalf of his government, guaranteed the protection of Qatar “from all aggression by sea”.
On 5 May 1935, Sheikh Abdullah signed another treaty, which was able to obtain Britain’s agreement for the protection of Qatar from inside as well as any attacks from external forces. Oil reserves were first discovered in 1939. However, exploitation was delayed by World War II.
Now September 3rd is when Qatar officially gained its independence from the United Kingdom and became an independent sovereign state. In 1972, Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani seized power in a palace coup after infighting in the ruling family.
Now you know. September 3rd and December 18 are both important dates 🙂