Qatar National Sport Day

By: Garrett Pickard

My Friend: Ali

  • Ali is my friend from Qatar who grew up in the country's capital, Doha. He is 18 years old and is on shorter side with brown hair and blue eyes. He is really funny and goofy and loves making jokes. Like me, he really enjoys sports, and his favorite is Soccer. Knowing my passion for sports, Ali has invited me to Qatar to celebrate National Sport day with him and participate in activities around the city!

What is National Sport Day?

  • National Sport day was created by the then Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, in 2011. The objective was to create a day which celebrates physical fitness, well being, and sport among all the members of Qatari Society.
  • A major reason for the creation of National Sport day was the discovery of Qatar being the fattest country in the world, with half of all adults obese and 17 per cent of the population suffering from diabetes in 2011.
  • It is celebrated on the second Tuesday in February each year, and is recognized as a public holiday so citizens have work off and most of the businesses in the country are closed.

Objective of National Sport Day

  • Widen the scope of community participation in sport and physical activities and increase the average of active participation.
  • Provide all members of Qatar Society with the opportunity to participate in entertaining activities.
  • Promote a sport culture in the society in order to increase awareness about the importance of sport and physical activities.
  • Establish criteria for measuring the level of social and individual participation in sport and physical activities.
  • Promote the sporting and recreational activities and make participants enjoy the activities organized during the National Sports Day.

Doha during National Sport Day

Katara

The first stop Ali and I visit when I arrive is Katara. It is early in the morning, so we spend time riding bikes and shooting hoops.
  • Katara is a village located on the eastern coast of the city.
  • Offers events free to the public like table tennis, basketball, cycling, and aerobics classes.
  • The activities run from 10 AM to 5 PM and a movie is usually played at night to end the festivities

Aspire Zone

Our next stop is the one we anticipate most: the Aspire Zone. The Zone is enormous and we first walk around observing the scene. Then, we sign up to compete in a soccer tournament on the professional field!
  • The Aspire Zone is a massive sporting complex located in the Al Waab district of Doha. The complex feature Khalifa International Stadium, a 50,000 seat soccer stadium, the Hamad aquatic center, and the Aspire Dome, a multi-purpose sports hall.
  • Activities at the Aspire zone include a "Fun Run", Soccer and volleyball tournaments, and fitness activities like Zumba.
  • The activities end at the Aspire Zone with a "Lighting of the Torch", where participants pedal stationary bicycles to power the Torch-Doha hotel.

Corniche

Our last stop as the sun begins to set is Corniche. We watch some of the competitors play tennis, have a healthy snack, and end the day watching the fireworks show.

  • Corniche is a large promenade that spans the length of Doha Bay. Corniche is where the center of activity for all events on National Sport day is located, called the "Qatar Olympic Sports Zone".
  • Events at Corniche include tennis, gymnastics, and bouncy houses for young children.
  • The celebration in Corniche includes live entertainment, music, and ends with a fireworks show.
Qatar National Sports Day

American Holiday Comparison

After spending time with Ali and celebrating National Sport Day in Qatar, it is clear that this is something unlike any American Holiday. Most of the holidays in America are for religion or historical reasons. This is the first holiday I have heard of that celebrates fitness and sports!