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Monday, March 8, 2021

Opinion: 10 things that weren’t in Qatar in 2007

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Longtime Qatar resident Susie Billings recently wrote a reflection piece on her blog after marking her seventh year in Doha, exploring all the different ways the country has evolved. To highlight the fact that Qatar has changed a great deal since 2007, the British expat has come up with this list of 10 things for Doha News describing what wasn’t here when she and her family first arrived.

The Museum of Islamic Art

This signature building, designed by world famous architect I.M. Pei who also designed the pyramid entrance to the Louvre in Paris, was still under construction when I moved to Qatar in May of 2007, and wouldn’t open for another year and a half.

ikea

IKEA

The Swedish flat-packed furniture company opened its doors in March 2013 and the crowds came the day it opened. Before that, many residents looking for a Billy bookcase or those couldn’t find what they needed at Home Center would get together with friends, order from IKEA Dubai and have it delivered by truck.

D Ring Road

Love it or hate it, D Ring Road lets you get across town without many traffic lights – though these days there is often so much traffic that you just inch along. But at least it exists – it took years for the expressway from Salwa Road to Landmark Mall to open, as it was tied up with construction delays and contractor changes.

west end park

Cricket ground with grass

If you haven’t discovered it yet, there is a fantastic new Cricket Stadium on the edge of the Industrial Area. For many residents, the tournament locations of choice are still parking lots that stand empty on a Friday morning, or the brushed dirt pitches north of the Shafalla Centre. But some big games are still being held at the new West End Park Qatar.

Souq Waqif

Restaurants at the Souq

In 2007, most people did not go to Souq Waqif to eat. You were lucky to find a cup of coffee or tea, and other than the sweets and nut shops that had no seating, there was a take away vendor selling crepes with cheese spread, za’atar and eggs. Now, there is a fabulous array of places to eat with a variety of cuisine, some of which around open around the clock.

QNCC 2008

QNCC

The Qatar National Convention Center opened in 2012, and for the past few years we’ve all been watching it grow. Its tree shape branches have evolved layer by layer, and have taken many interesting forms over its years of construction. In fact, the Doha Exhibition Center on Lusail Street didn’t exist in 2007 either. There was only a small exhibition building in downtown West Bay.

Traffic

So many people, so many cars, so many traffic lights

In 2007, Qatar was home to around 800,000 people – compared to 2.2 million residents today. Back then, there were fewer cars on the road and very few traffic signals, as almost all intersections were roundabouts. There were lovely palm trees and a large grass roundabout near the City Center/Lusail Street intersection where construction workers would nap during their lunch hour.

grandmall7

No ‘Family Only’ day at the malls

Today, Fridays are Family Only day at most shopping malls, largely because of the 4:1 male to female ratio here in Qatar. However, most people here work a six-day week, and Friday is their only day off, so this stops an awful lot of people from hanging out in the cool, air-conditioned malls. When we arrived in 2007, there were no obvious restrictions based on family status to go anywhere. Family Day signs started appearing in mid-2008.

torch doha

The Torch and its revolving restaurant

The Asian Games had wrapped up in December 2006 and The Torch, which hosted the flame for the Asian Games, stood proud but empty. It had a nice exterior, but was just a concrete shell inside. Over the years, its lights and TV screens provided entertainment near Khalifa Stadium and Villaggio mall, but the hotel and its revolving restaurant didn’t open until late 2011.

Katara

Katara Cultural Village

The hills of Katara are currently being landscaped with more plants, flowers and trees, but in 2007, there were no hills at all. You could see the sea from Lusail street and the amphitheater under construction. The next seven years would see a stream of dump trucks bringing mounds of dirt/sand and compacters compressing as the hills of Katara slowly took shape.

What would you add to this list? Thoughts?

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AJ
AJ
6 years ago

Family only days were in place well before 2007.

islq06
islq06
6 years ago

I think they forgot to mention the thousand’s of Shopping Malls Qatar is building in less than 5 meters distance between them. What is the purpose of having billion of Shopping Malls in a country that has less than 3 billion people? From my point of view I see it as a waste of money encouraging the consumerism in Qatar.

AJ
AJ
6 years ago

We have been here 6 years. We have stopped going out from the house unless to get groceries. The traffic has quadrupled. It used to be easy to pop by Villagio to get something other than groceries but now it is a nightmare to go there because of the traffic. If we do need it, we wait till we are out of the country to get them or have someone bring it in for us. It is still easier than popping over to Villagio mall and the last time we went to Landmark was in 2012.

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