Qataris rally behind Emir amid Gulf crisis

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  • Qatar is facing a deadline on sweeping demands set by neighboring countries
  • The situation has prompted an outpouring of defiance and support for the nation's leader

Doha, Qatar (CNN)As Qatar faces the deadline of an ultimatum by its neighbors to comply with their list of sweeping demands, there is an atmosphere of defiance and patriotism in the capital Doha.

A stencil-style image of the Emir -- Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani -- is now almost everywhere -- on social media profiles, large posters on the streets and on the city's high-rise towers, on T-shirts, on cars and, the latest, a wall by one of Doha's shopping malls.
    Qataris young and old show up at the wall to sign their messages of support to their leader. Some, perhaps too young to understand the politics behind it all, are there with their parents to take part in what now feels like a long celebration of national day.
    A man writes a message of support to the Emir amid the growing crisis between the Gulf kingdom and its neighbors.
    "We are all Tamim," "we are your soldiers Tamim," "long live Qatar," "God protect Qatar and its Emir" are some of the messages now covering the wall. A crane was brought in to take people up to the top of the poster where there was still room for them to scribble their messages this weekend.
    A father with his two toddlers wearing T-shirts with the Emir's now-iconic image said it was important to bring his children so the entire family shows support for their leader at a time of crisis.
    Maya, a 14-year-old Qatari citizen who came to the wall with her relatives and friends, believes that people are coming together because of the situation. "Under this crisis and this blockade, it's brought us together. To see people do this from the grassroots, from the bottom up because it's not forced by the government -- it's heartwarming to be here."
    Children in Doha wear T-shirts showing support for the Emir.
    The poster that has now become a focal point in Doha was put up by Qatari businessman Sheikh Turkin bin Faisal al Thani.
    "During the crisis, our government (has) done very well in handling the situation and providing a normal life for people, for maintaining the normal standard of living in the country. So this is just the way for the people and for us to show our support for our government and our leadership, who have really made us proud of them at this time of crisis." he says.
    Qatari composer Dana Alfardan ended her singing career four years ago to concentrate on her music compositions. But in recent weeks, as her country has faced an unprecedented crisis, it was time, she says, to come out of retirement and act.
    "All of a sudden there was this embargo and we were blockaded. I wanted to get this message of love and unity and togetherness out and I wanted to showcase the strength and unwavering love for our leader," she says.
    Along with some of Qatar's most known musical talents including Fahad Al Kubaisi and Essa Al Kubaisi and a volunteer expatriate choir, they recorded the song "One Nation." An organic reaction to events happening in the Gulf State says Dana, "Our home is being attacked and we have to stand up for ourselves, we have to take ownership of our messaging. We have got to take ownership of our narrative that's out there."
    Qatari composer Dana al-Fardan joined other musicians to record the song "One Nation."
    That narrative takes on a different approach when it comes to other countries involved in this crisis. Earlier this week Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, penned a poem to the Qatari state that he published on his Instagram account. The poem, which was written in Arabic, calls for unity in the region saying "Now it is time to get united and be one heart and protect each other without grudges or hatred."
    But back in Doha, Qataris like their government feel that this crisis and the demands by the Saudi-led alliance are an attempt to strip the country of its sovereignty and to force this tiny country back in a box.
    Ahmed Bin Majed Al Maadheed, the Qatari artist behind the Emir's stencil-style image, says "Everybody in Qatar -- the citizens, people (who) live in Qatar from (other) nations -- they stand as well with the Emir because we are living the good life here "
    "The good life" in one of the world's highest per-capita-income countries includes free health care, free basic services and a free education.
    It is estimated that a little over 10% of this natural-gas-rich country's population of 2.2 million are native-born Qataris.
    Faced with the deadline set by the Saudi led alliance , there is also a certain level of uncertainty and anxiety as everyone waits to see what comes next.
    "As long as that sense of patriotism lasts then, no doubt the Qatari government can withstand the pressure that is being put on it by the UAE and Saudi Arabia," Professor Mehran Kamrava, director of the Center for International and Regional Studies at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Qatar, said in an interview last month.
    "But if there are indications of discomfort and unease among the Qatari population, then I think we will begin to see some movement on the part of the Qatari government, making some concessions."