By Ramesh Mathew and Joey Aguilar/Staff Reporters
A grand reception was accorded to His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani by thousands of Qatar residents, both nationals and expatriates, who lined up the Doha Corniche yesterday evening to welcome their dearly loved leader home.
The Emir returned to Qatar after successful visits to Turkey, Germany, France and the US where he addressed the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly.
The scene when the Emir's motorcade passed along the 4km stretch of the Corniche, from the southern end to the Emiri Diwan, was reminiscent of the pomp and patriotic fervour usually demonstrated by the country's residents at the National Day celebrations.
At many points along the route, His Highness the Emir got down from his car to acknowledge the cheers of the slogan-shouting and flag-waving residents. A source said the Emir got out at least four times to greet the adoring crowd that had gathered around his car to greet him.
While the Emir's convoy was moving along the course, at least four military helicopters, sporting Qatari flags were seen hovering above, adding to the festive ambience that marked the occasion.
At least two hours before the arrival of the convoy, thousands of enthusiastic residents including men and women and children carrying Qatari flags of various sizes, filled every inch of the promenade.
Similarly, hundreds of vehicles carrying young men sporting T-shirts printed with the Tamim Al Majd portrait and carrying Qatari flags were seen moving along the route before the arrival of His Highness the Emir. Many motorists were also sounding their horns rhythmically as they drove.
Once the Emir's motorcade arrived, all tried to catch a glimpse of their dear leader and the patiently awaiting people were seen jostling for a better view.
A large number of schoolchildren, carrying portraits of the Emir and flags had also come to greet the country's immensely popular leader. Several Qatari youth were singing traditional Arab and Qatari folklore songs while many of their compatriots were heard raising slogans hailing Sheikh Tamim and Qatar.
"Seeing His Highness in person is something 'royal'. I feel very happy and all the people here are also very happy to see His Highness the Emir return safely," Yousef Ahmed al-Haddad told Gulf Times.
He stressed that he, like his family, relatives and friends, was very proud as a Qatari to have a wise leader like Sheikh Tamim.
"I really can't describe how I feel now, all I know is that the joy comes from within my heart," al-Haddad said. "Everyone is happy because His Highness is here. It is short (the welcome programme) but it brought happiness to the people," he added.
Al-Haddad said he came to the Corniche at 3.30pm to wait for His Highness' arrival at around 6pm. "A lot of people were already here when I reached this place ," he said.
Prior to the welcome event, he said the crowd watched on huge screens His Highness deliver the speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Another Qatari citizen Nasser al-Kubaisi also echoed al-Haddad's views, saying he felt happy and proud of the country's wise leadership.
"It is really good to see His Highness returning safely after travelling to different countries and speaking at the UN; we wholeheartedly support Sheikh Tamim."
Arrangements were made at more than two points on the Corniche to serve refreshments to the residents waiting to greet the Emir.
"Though there was no public announcement of the programme to welcome the Emir and most of the people came to know about it just hours before his arrival through a tweet that went viral, the large crowds that gathered at the Corniche and their spontaneous show of love and support are ample proof of Sheikh Tamim's immense popularity and approval of his wise policies," an observer said.
Policemen efficiently controlled the entrances to the Corniche, ensuring the massive crowd a smooth passage.
A lesson in the art of dealing with people
Expressing his deep appreciation for the way in which the Emir responded to the people's greetings and their spontaneous out-pour of love and solidarity, Sheikh Abdulrahman bin Hamad al-Thani, CEO of Qatar Media Corporation (QMC), tweeted: “HH the Emir gives a lesson in the art of dealing with people.”
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