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Thursday, October 28, 2021

A year after the Villaggio fire, critical voices have fallen silent (e-book)



One year ago today, 19 people – mostly small children – lost their lives in what now appears to have been a preventable disaster.

As images spread across the world – of thick smoke billowing from Villaggio mall, of firefighters looking confused and unprepared, of parents breaking down in tears of grief, of lifeless children being pulled from the roof – the question on everyone’s lips was, “Why? Why is this happening?”

In the days after the fire, local media and government officials called for action and accountability, and for lessons to be learned. But a year later, those voices have all gone quiet.

In this past year, Doha News has taken coverage of this story seriously, and sought to bring a critical depth of reporting to Qatar’s community.

Today we continue that commitment with the release of an exhaustive 56-page report about the fire and its implications. We interviewed dozens of people for the publication, including the families of the victims, mall officials, safety and health experts and members of the community who continue to be haunted by what happened.

The “Villaggio Fire: A Tragedy Silenced” e-book is organized into six main chapters:

  • The Fire
  • Aftermath
  • Grieving Families
  • A Country of Fires
  • Qatari Voices
  • Villaggio Now

Our goal in producing this work is to give Qatar a historic record of what happened that day, what developments followed, and what lies ahead for the nation as it struggles to move on, grow stronger, and hold itself to a higher standard.

We also hope the e-book stands as a testament to the strength and generosity of the human spirit that was demonstrated after the fire, as community members gathered en masse to comfort the heartbroken.

Although our initial intention was to charge a small fee for the e-book, we recognized in the course of its production that the Villaggio fire is a tragedy that touched nearly every single resident here in some way or another. So, instead, we are releasing the “Villaggio Fire: A Tragedy Silenced” e-book free of charge.

Only a PDF version is available at the moment, which means many of the interactive features won’t work. But we expect it to be online in Apple’s iBookstore in the next couple of days, and plan to have native versions for Kindle and other e-readers in the next week or so.

Here it is in full (click fullscreen for easier reading, or hit the download button to save a copy for later):


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