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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Dismay expressed at plans to turn Al Messila woods into luxury resort

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Artists’ impressions of the Al Messila resort and spa via Salfo & Associates

Plans to develop a five-star hotel and spa complex in central Doha on a site that contains natural woods have been met with protests from some Qatar residents.

Construction for the Al Messila Hotel and VVIP Spa Resort is taking place at an area dubbed “Al Messila forest,” which features hundreds of indigenous trees and sits alongside the Doha Expressway, opposite the US Embassy.

According to Qatari environmental activist Khalid Al Mohannadi, work on the site began earlier this year, and at least 600 trees have been dug up to prepare the ground for the luxury retreat.

tree roots

He said the copse included some 1,100 trees and has been there for more than 50 years. It continued to grow after its life as a plant nursery, and became home to an ecosystem of birds and other wildlife.

However, the engineering consultants responsible for the development of the site said that they are protecting all the trees in on-site nursery, and the foliage will be re-planted once the resort is completed.

In a statement sent to Doha News, Omar Farid, senior architect for regional firm Unii Engineering Consultancy, said:

“Environmental aspects have been deeply considered in the form of environmental reports, treatments and vegetation preservation.

A tree nursery is available on-site and none of the trees have been abolished, as a matter of fact, they have been saved as a big percentage had their roots exposed. They will then be transplanted to be part of the hotel’s landscape.”

However, a statement on Unii’s website about the trees is more flexible, saying, “It is envisaged where possible the majority of the existing tree shall be retained for reuse.”

Farid declined to discuss the timetable of the project, referring questions to the owners of the site of the hotel and spa, the Private Engineering Office. The PEO is a government agency that is responsible for a number of significant development projects around Qatar, including the now-shelved Doha Grand Park.

It could not be reached for comment.

Resort plans

Both Unii Engineering and Greek engineering and management consultants Salfo & Associates, who are responsible for the structural and MEP design and engineering, have posted plans for the new development on their websites.

aerial map

The 132,000sqm site will include 50,000sqm of built-up area, including a five-star hotel, spa and villas – with the aim of being Qatar’s largest and most luxurious spa, according to Salfo.

Unii describes the development as being influenced by Moroccan architecture and style. It states that the hotel will include 60 bedrooms, presidential suites and royal suites. It added that the resort will sit amid formal gardens through which a number of villas will be situated.

Al Mohannadi told Doha News that he was opposed to the development of the site into a luxury retreat, arguing that the long-standing natural site should be preserved and opened to the public as an environmental and education center.

He said: “I am skeptical that all the trees will be replanted into the new site. If you look at the plans, the area just isn’t big enough.”

Al Mohannadi also said that the residential area was the wrong location for a luxury development of this nature. He continued:

“We have been talking with the developers and ministries and gave them a plan to create an urban wilderness there – like a botanical garden, with walkways between the trees and seats for families to enjoy the green space.

“There is no place in Doha for our children to go to. It is a God-given natural place and we should look after it,” he said.

Online opposition

As his appeals fell on deaf ears and development of the site has started, Al Mohannadi says he is now asking to residents to take to social media to voice their opposition to the plans.

The response on Twitter so far appears supportive of the idea of preserving the trees, and a new hashtag #غابة_المسيلة (Almessila forest) has popped up to that effect.

Thoughts?

28 COMMENTS

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Scarletti
Scarletti
7 years ago

Sadly, the lack of a planning authority with any teeth seems to strike again ! in the words of the song ” dont it always seem to go, that you dont know what you got ’till its gone”

David
David
7 years ago

I love how the artists renderings of the proposed development in no way reflect the reality of the surrounding area. Are the developers going to be adding all this lush vegetation on both sides of D-Ring. The property looks nice, but not when it’s practically sitting on top of the D-Ring road. The artist also seems to ignore English Modern School. The morning drop-off and afternoon pick-ups will really help create a great atmosphere around the resort.

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
7 years ago
Reply to  David

it is called lack of planning or being out of reality, actually cheap thinking.

Huw Nicholas
Huw Nicholas
7 years ago
Reply to  fullmoon07

more a case of I own some land that isn’t doing anything. I know lets build a luxury realxing spa, next to an Expressway near a multi-level interchange – ooommmmmmmm………

Chipper fluffypants
Chipper fluffypants
7 years ago
Reply to  David

Also, the area is full of lower income apartments and villas literally steps away. Not very VIP to me…The area is already going to be heavily populated with Al Fardan Gardens 7 coming, traffic is going to be more chaotic.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago

Oh the lower income guys living there are easy. Uproot them like the trees. Problem solved. Idiots.

khalid Al Mohannadi
khalid Al Mohannadi
7 years ago
Reply to  David

thats what am afraid off

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
7 years ago

“When the Last Tree Is Cut Down, the Last Fish Eaten, and the Last Stream Poisoned, You Will Realize That You Cannot Eat Money” ….always too late when people understand this. Abu Dhabi has been turned green, in Doha it seems there is a will to keep it without trees…

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago

The amount of greed is astounding here. With no indigenous trees in Qatar lets just uproot the very few we have. All for the sake of the almighty Riyal. While I honestly hope for better things and thinking to go on here it just doesn’t seem likes it’s in them. Real lost opportunities on many fronts.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

“The amount of greed is astounding here.” There you go again, throwing stones when you house is made of glass. Do you really need me to bring up what your people’s greed did and continue to do? Remember the financial crisis that almost destroyed the world’s economy? Greedy wall street guys (mostly white males) caused it. How about President Bush who said he wants to drill for oil in Alaska’s national parks? All in the name of almighty Dollar.

Yacine
Yacine
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Who told you @desertcard:disqus does not also criticize his/her government’s greed?
It is not because someone does something wrong tens of miles away that it becomes legitimate to do the same here. Qatar has more than enough space for all types of constructions, so why going to that particular space (which is a natural gem) and destroy it?

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

I suggest you go back and read his comments before you throw baseless accusations at me. He has repeatedly made sweeping negative generalizations about Qatar and Qataris. Again, go back and read his comments.

Whether or not he has made similar comments about the greed in his country (Has he in fact? Show me!) is irrelevant. If you say the rate, amount, etc. of something is astounding then we have every right to ask compared to what?

Where in my comment did I say that I support the action to build the resort? WHERE! You’re just putting words in my mouth. Pathetic!

MarkDoha
MarkDoha
7 years ago

Such a shame to destroy a genuinely interesting and environmentally significant area for the sake of yet another vvip, blah blah blah, hotel resort and luxury spa blah blah complex. I can’t (well actually I can) believe how the developer got planning permission. Yet in other areas we’re investing to create natural green spaces…bonkers.

Pete
Pete
7 years ago

Schools are crying out for land. Whilst I agree the development is shortsighted, it’s also the wrong development.

zoeval
zoeval
7 years ago

I’m speechless and sickened. This area is a rare, precious treasure that has taken decades to grow – a haven for birds, wildlife and, it could be for the pubic too, a natural place for children to play. This is stupidity of the highest order. It’s a disgrace. And we feel powerless to stop it. Are we? Is there anything we can do?

Susanne Fornasier
Susanne Fornasier
7 years ago

And they complain about loosing their heritage because of to many expats.
It seems that the words heritage, culture, history & respect are always bend to their liking.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago

Who are “they”? In case you hadn’t noticed, the person head spearing the campaign is a Qatari!

Pete
Pete
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

The use of the word “they” in this context makes me cringe.

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

The more you reply and argue, the more credibility she gets. Just ignore

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Good point 🙂

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago

… Racist much?

osamaalassiry
osamaalassiry
7 years ago

We are losing our heritage because of too many expats, … these trees are not our “words heritage, culture, history & respect”… There are clearly defined margins for these….

“They” !!!

Karen Avery
Karen Avery
7 years ago

The photos are bogus because they show a ton of trees in the distance on either side where there are none. I work across the street. There is a school there. Our teachers use to use the forest as a learning tool. What are they going to do about the fact that they are going to disrupt the school?

Chipper fluffypants
Chipper fluffypants
7 years ago
Reply to  Karen Avery

There is an independent school right there as well. Plus, 2 or 3 more just a block away. Really bad idea…

AJ
AJ
7 years ago

Well, it is easier to maintain green plastic carpets that looked like grass from afar than real trees b’coz the trees tend to drop leaves that would make the place messy.

Proud _Filipina1984
Proud _Filipina1984
7 years ago

There is nothing wrong with aiming to be a progressive and well-developed country
or even to be LUXURIOUS….

“but please keep the water as clear as crystal
keep the skies with its clouds
don’t kill these tress and keep them dancing with the wind…. ”

🙁 nothing natural left for the next generation it will be too dreadful to create for them an ARTIFICIAL world….

Proud _Filipina1984
Proud _Filipina1984
7 years ago
Ms. Hala
7 years ago

I just saw the tweets by Khalid and bared the question, “Whose smart idea was it to locate another hotel/spa on #Doha’s small piece of natural greenland?” Because there’s so many trees and not enough hotels/spas? This is seriously stupidity at it’s best!

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