The Qatar Marquee at the Eid Festival in London. PICTURE: Laura Harrington
By Denise Marray
Gulf Times London Correspondent
The Eid Festival held in the heart of London on Saturday saw people from all corners of the globe converge on Trafalgar Square to celebrate the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
The Qatar Embassy in London co-sponsored the day-long event in partnership with the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.
Diplomats and staff from the embassy, assisted by volunteers from Qatar, were on hand at the festival to showcase the culture and traditions of the country and offer hospitality on the day.
Mubarak Ajlan al-Kuwari, third secretary at the Qatar Embassy, spoke to Gulf Times about their participation.
“The embassy is privileged to sponsor the 10th Anniversary of the Eid Festival in London with the Mayor of London. The Qatar Marquee offers authentic Qatari hospitality with Arabic coffee and dates and a workshop in traditional Arabic calligraphy and literature. We are also offering beautiful Qatari clothing for visitors to try on. This is part of our public diplomacy programme initiated by our Ambassador Yousef Ali Al Khater.”
The embassy has been planning for the event since last year and it proved very popular with people keen to enjoy the Qatari exhibits which included a history of pearl fishing, ceramics and a musician playing the Oud.
All around the square thousands of people joined in the celebrations, enjoying the traditions, cuisines, music and fashion from Muslim cultures around the world.
Al-Kuwari observed: “Trafalgar Square is an iconic landmark in London; everyone comes to this place, especially on sunny days like today. We expect 25,000 to 30,000 people to attend.”
Asked what message he hoped the event would convey, he said, “We want to communicate a message of peace; to see everyone together living in peace, loving each other, and enjoying this event.”
Hamad Mohamed Hussen Ali Almuftah, counsellor at the Qatar Embassy, gave additional background about the embassy’s programme of public diplomacy.
“When our Ambassador, Yousef Ali al-Khater, first came to London he initiated a programme called Outreach which is a public diplomacy programme through which we engage not only with the government of the United Kingdom but also with the public. This event is part of that programme; we are celebrating Eid in London not only with the Muslims but with the whole population of the city and tourists as well.
“Nowadays, alongside our traditional diplomacy, we have to move towards public diplomacy in which we engage with the public as well. Today the public influences opinion due to many factors such as social media.”
Noting the large multi-racial, multi-faith and cross-generational turnout, he said, "It’s very healthy, and we are very proud to participate with the British government and the Mayor of London to enhance our long-term relations with the UK.”
Doha student Mohammed Yousef al-Horr, studying mechanical engineering at Texas A&M University Qatar, was proud to see his country represented at the event.
“This event brings our home to the UK and helps people to understand Qatari culture,” he said.