(With reporting from Ankita Menon)
Visitors fond of the diverse ethnic cuisine offered at the Museum of Islamic Art Park Bazaar may be in for a surprise at the upcoming event on Saturday.
Citing a desire to focus on Qatar’s arts and crafts scene, organizers of the monthly market are changing up the format, and have said food will no longer be a part of the event.
In a statement sent to Doha News, management said:
“We have decided to change the focus of the Park Bazaar to concentrate just on arts and crafts. This will provide more opportunities for artists, crafts-people and artisans in Qatar to exhibit their wares in MIA Park. Sale of food products will therefore no longer be a component of the MIA Park Bazaar.”
The news has come as a disappointment to some vendors, who saw it as an opportunity to introduce their products to potential customers without the hefty investment of opening a shop.
Among them: Empty Cup co-founder Mohammed Al Mulla, a Qatari entrepreneur who has sold speciality coffee at the bazaar for the past few months.
“It was very important for us – we lost a very big (way) to share our business with the community and interact with the community,” he told Doha News when reached by phone.
In a follow-up email, Al Mulla and his business partner Adam Farhat expressed their appreciation for the opportunity the bazaar had afforded them in the past:
“We can’t but thank MIA for having organised this and having given us a chance to be part of it in the past… (but) people need to have these kind of events so they can get to meet small specialty vendors who may not ever get a chance to rent a shop and spend hundred’s of thousands to register a company.
As entrepreneurs we believe that it was a great contribution to the entrepreneurial
ecosystem and the economy on the long-run. There are many organizations out there
to help local small business startups in professional services, but on the ground we need
things like this.”
Qatar has strict food safety laws, and has been mulling harsher penalties for outlets found in violation of its regulations.
Al Mulla said that organizers told him the MIA was not licensed to sell cuisine in the bazaar area, despite the prevalence of food stalls in recent months.
However, MIA bazaar organizers have emphasized that the decision to stop serving food was made solely by the museum:
“There was no official intervention or restriction. While health and safety when selling food products was a factor in our decision, more importantly it allows us to expand and develop the arts and crafts part of the Bazaar.”
MIA holds its bazaars on the first Saturday of every month. February’s event will be held this weekend on Feb. 1, from noon to 8pm.
New play equipment
Meanwhile, the MIA Park is reopening its playground on Thursday, which has doubled in size and boasts new Swedish recreational equipment.
A statement from the museum said there are now three distinct area for different age groups: a “fun space” for 2-5 year olds to develop motor control, a larger playground for 5-12 year olds, and equipment for 12-16 year olds to “test coordination abilities and to support body strength of growing teenagers.”
Here are some of the photos they shared with us:
Will you be visiting? Thoughts?