Qatar's car parade: The Ramadan tradition that brings families together

Event provides perfect distraction to pass time before iftar during the holy month

Car parade at Lusail boulevard before Iftar, which some say dates back to 1965. Doha, Qatar, 2023.
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Maroua Saoud and her 62-year-old mother stand in one corner of the Qatar's Lusail thoroughfare, firmly pointing their phones towards a long caravan of cars.

Their faces light up each time another classic vehicle passes by.

“My mother loves cars and she has her collection of classic cars. Her favourite is the Citroen DS 20 Pallas. I am not sure if we will spot that here,” says Ms Saoud, turning the camera around for a selfie.

The car parade is among the most popular Ramadan traditions in Qatar, dating to 1965.

During the month, between 4pm and 5.30pm, residents get together with friends, family and children, and take their best cars out on the streets.

While traditionally the parade venue has been the Corniche, this year it’s Lusail — the futuristic city built for the Fifa World Cup.

“Qataris love their cars. From vintage to muscle and supercars, you will find everything here. Some people also get together and drive the same brand of cars,” says Yusuf Al Mulla, general co-ordinator of Sealine Circuit Sports Club, one of the organisers of the event.

“Then there are others who take out their special cars only during Ramadan. It stays in their garage for the rest of the year.”

Talal Al Thani’s blazing orange McLaren Senna is one of those special cars that caught the crowd’s attention.

“It’s a really old tradition. I remember doing the rounds of Corniche with my father and brother,” says Mr Al Thani.

“Of course, there were much fewer people then.”

While there are many stories behind the origin of the parade, the one that is cited most often is that it is the perfect distraction for hungry fasters later in the day, looking to pass time before iftar and wanting to mingle with friends and family.

As a bonus, the children also love to see the parade.

“From a Mercedes to a car truck, you will find cars of every value here,” says Aseel Azawy, a car reviewer, who credits the event for his career and love for cars.

“The diversity is what makes this special. It is a true community space which is urging people to love cars.”

Bayan Homsi is a car influencer and attended the parade with her red Dodge. Doha, Qatar 2023.

Among the women at the car show is popular social media influencer Bayan Homsi, who has taken out her red Dodge for the event.

“I made videos of the cars yesterday and got many views. So today I decided to drive around myself … I have got my Dodge but my favourite is a Lamborghini,” she says.

In another corner, father of three Saad Alnaimi, is revving his Land Cruiser as his children pop out of the car’s sunroof. “I only have to bring cars with a sunroof here," he says. "That’s what the kids want. They really enjoy the parade.”

And it’s not just limited to cars, bikers such as Adeeb “Dido” Kajan from the “Wataweet MC Qatar” are also joining in with their Harley Davidsons.

“I just spotted a GMC with a Saudi number plate … The event is becoming very popular in the GCC too,” he said.

As cars continue to line the streets of Lusail, and the air reverberates with the rumble and thunder of wheels and accelerators, Ms Saoud and her mother decide to call it a day.

“I love the Beetle. Hopefully I can own it one day and participate in this parade,” the software engineer says.

Updated: March 28, 2023, 4:40 AM