Annual Closing: December 18-23
Annual Closing is a public holiday in Qatar.
Annual Closing is a holiday that is celebrated in Qatar to reflect on the country’s religious pride.
History of Annual Closing in Qatar
Qatar is an Arab country in the Middle East that occupies the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeastern coast of the larger Arabian Peninsula, and it is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south. Qatar has experienced rapid economic growth over the last several years on the back of high oil prices, and in 2008 the country posted its eighth consecutive budget surplus. The goal of Qatar’s administration is to develop more natural gas reserves as well as to increase private and foreign investment in non-energy sectors. Oil and gas have made Qatar the second-highest per-capita income country in the world, and it is one of the world’s fastest growing countries.
During 2007, the administration of Qatar decided to have what is called an “annual closing.” This means that at the end of every year, the banks of Qatar will designate a block of dates for closing. This was initially proposed by the Central Bank and was decided upon after many discussions from the administration. Each year, the dates may differ, but will always fall close to the end of the year. In 2009, the banks will be closed from December 18-23.
Usually this closing falls around the time of the country’s Eid al-Adha celebration. Eid al-Adha, “Festival of Sacrifice”, is a holiday marking the end of the Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, which is one of the greatest religious observances in Islam. To coincide with this celebration, the annual closing closes the banks to observe this time of year.
Qatar’s Annual Closing Traditions, Customs, and Activities
One of the largest festivities during this time of year is the laser show. During this laser show, all of the lights of the country shine through the skies, creating a glimmering laser image throughout the night. It is clear that Qatar’s respect for its religion is great, with the annual closing of the banks being a way to show pride on an annual basis.