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National Sports Day

National Sports Day 2017 and 2018

National Sports Day in Qatar occurs every second Tuesday of February, which puts it somewhere between February 9th and 14th most years.

YearDateDayHoliday
201714 FebTueNational Sports Day
201813 FebTueNational Sports Day

It is a relatively new holiday, only having been introduced in 2012, and Qatar stands with Malaysia, Japan, and India as one of only a handful of nations to have a national holiday specifically dedicated to sports.

It is not only sports for sports’ sake, however, but for the sake of promoting a healthy lifestyle with plenty of physical exercise that the Qatari government decreed the establishment of National Sports Day.

Sports activities are common, diverse, and very popular in the tiny, Persian-Gulf nation of Qatar. The biggest in terms of fans is football (soccer), but you will also find basketball, volleyball, cricket, swimming, horse racing, and camel racing are frequently engaged in. Additionally, there is a good deal of auto racing, powerboat racing, golf, and Olympic-style handball. Handball is played by passing a small ball among seven teammates, while attempting to sling it into the opposing team’s goal. The goal is much like a soccer goal, but it is often played on what resembles a basketball court without baskets. Rowing competitions with traditional Qatari “Al Shawahef” boats are common as well and are as beautiful to watch as fun to take part in.

On National Sports Day in Qatar, the government actually requires by force of law that both public and private institutions organise sports events for their employees. Thus, it will not be hard to find events to attend if you wish to be physically active.

Some activities to engage in if in Qatar, and specifically in the capital city of Doha, for National Sports Day include:

  • The Dolphin Energy Doha Dash. This “dash” is a regular part of National Sports Day and can be registered for at dohadash.com. It begins at 7am, so it is not for later risers, and it can be anywhere from 1 km (0.6 mi) to 10 km (6 mi), so it is only for those who want a “good stretch of the legs.”
  • See the sailboat race put on by the Qatar Sailing and Rowing Federation. It begins at the Corniche, a seaside plaza in Doha, and at the same location, you can avail yourself of kayaks, rowing machines, water skiing, Shaweef rowing, weight lifting, handball, miniature golf, and more.
  • Stroll through Doha’s MIA Park, where you can take fitness classes and engage in some sports activities like soccer and kayaking, while admiring the view and getting a breath of fresh air. Also visit the nearby Museum of Islamic Art to see some important works.
  • Stop by Doha Sports City, which has some of the world’s best sports training equipment. There will be many events held there on National Sports Day, including beach soccer, basketball, judo, wall climbing, four-seat bicycle rides, fencing, and “family boot camp.”
  • Visit Doha’s Katara Cultural Village for karate shows, chess matches, wrestling, sailing, weight lifting, basketball games to watch, table tennis, sack races, touch-to-tackle rugby, and boxing.

Sports is big in Qatar, and it is even bigger on National Sports Day. Anyone who loves sports will find this an ideal time to visit this small Middle Eastern nation.