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Friday, June 18, 2021

PHOTOS: Candlelit sales mark Souq Ahmed’s final days in Qatar

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Photos by Chantelle D’mello

Even without electricity, one of Qatar’s oldest commercial plazas still managed to draw a crowd of shoppers this weekend ahead of its pending demolition.

Power was cut to Souq Ahmed Bin Ali – located across the street from Souq Waqif, in the shadow of the Fanar Cultural Center – last week in what’s believed to be an effort to accelerate the eviction process.

But on Friday evening, some of the remaining textile, apparel, foodstuffs and money exchange shops were still doing brisk business by using candles and handheld emergency lights.

Signs advertising clearance sales were attached to many storefront windows, drawing large crowds in to browse discounted shoes, jackets, blankets and linen sets.

None of the vendors who spoke to Doha News knew why the stores were being demolished or what would replace them, although some speculated the building was being razed to make way for a new hotel or possibly accommodate the nearby work on the Doha Metro.

“We were informed via SMS in February that we had to leave the area, but have been looking for alternate places since. We’ve known for a while that this was coming, but we have no idea why or what is coming up in place of this,” said one store owner, who declined to give his name out of fear of being reprimanded.

Some of Souq Ahmed’s shopkeepers have reportedly been working in the commercial complex since it opened in 1987 and feel an emotional connection to the location.

However, the vendors who spoke to Doha News yesterday said they’re focused on the future and said they’ve found new homes in Muaither, Muntaza, Mesaimeer and Abu Hamour.

Souq Ahmed was particularly popular with Qatar’s large South Asian expat population, but also drew a significant number of Qataris.

The Qatar Tribune reported that the nearby Souq Asiri and Souq Jaber are also likely to be demolished.

What are your memories of Souq Ahmed? Thoughts?

30 COMMENTS

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The_Angry
The_Angry
6 years ago

This news is making me angry.

Elsi T.
Elsi T.
6 years ago

I feel really sad that most of the places that I used to go ever since I was a kid will just be memories. Instead of going to malls, these type of places is a part of Qatar that is unique and different. Hopefully, it is for the best, who knows.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  Elsi T.

If it’s not 5* they don’t want it.

Jassimalrumaihi
Jassimalrumaihi
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Souq Waqif isn’t 5* and we love it. Don’t you desertCat?

Jassimalrumaihi
Jassimalrumaihi
6 years ago

Card*

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago

Not really. It’s not what I’d call a traditional souq. If you’ve been to Marakesh, Cairo, etc… those are real souqs. I’m sorry but like a lot of things here it feels artificial. In regards to shopping it doesn’t offer much more than Souq Ahmed. Just less of it.

Jassimalrumaihi
Jassimalrumaihi
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Souq Ahmed is a traditional Souq? Are you serious? Have you even been there? It’s a air-conditioned mall built in the 80’s. How is that traditional?
And yes Souq Waqif is a traditional souq. There are parts of it that are modern like the restaurants, and yes it is much more safe know with the better construction, but it looks and feels traditional.
Have you been to Tunisia? There you’ll find a souq just like Souq Waqif and the Tunisian’s call it traditional.
But I’m happy that your second comment is more respectful to the country. Keep it that way.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago

Where did I say S. Ahmed was traditional? I in no way implied it was. So I call something not a traditional souq and I’m disrespecting the country? My point was S. Waqif sells much of the same things they sell in Souq Ahmed, just less of it. As far as the country goes I can say as I like regardless of threats.

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago

I didn’t really care too much when the other Souq Al Ahmed was demolished in 2005. It’s now the big expanse of bitumen opposite the Isharaj cafe in souq waqif near to the gold shops.

But then over time more and more these “original” Souqs have been demolished removing most of the reminders of the Doha that greeted me when I first arrived. Soon I guess there will be none left.

But I guess something has to be done to force retailers and customers to have no choice but to use the shiny new malls that Doha’s elite built for us, even though for the most part these malls are neither wanted nor needed.

AnonymityBreedsContempt
AnonymityBreedsContempt
6 years ago

First ISIS destroys ancient artifacts, and now the oldest sites in Qatar are being razed to the ground.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

Not quite the same, a bunch of Islamic zealots destroying thousands of year old artefacts from some of the earliest examples of human civilisation, compared to a souq that started in 1987.

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago

I’d vote you up for the most stupid comment ever on Dohanews

Chilidog
Chilidog
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Whew, someone got me off the top of your list! I told you it was too early in the year to think that status would hold up…. 🙂

Marisa Marinho
Marisa Marinho
6 years ago

what a shame……

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago

What a waste of a really great place. Lunch/dinner at Thai Noodle, go to place for textiles and all kinds of nik nak stuff… What a shame. I now have NOWHERE to shop.

safari911
6 years ago

Fire hazard in the extreme!!!! Using candles in textile shops with crowds hustling around, if there WAS a fire there is no sprinkler system in place or any signage visible for escape routes etc, due to the power cut…… This was a recipe for disaster!

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago
Reply to  safari911

You said it.

Rashid
Rashid
6 years ago
Reply to  safari911

You nailed it, the athourites told them to leave but they ignored and then they blame the govermant of Qatar if they were killed!

Guest
Guest
6 years ago

i really feel bad for them 🙁 ..

Guest
Guest
6 years ago

“lets build new fake souq by destroying classic one, instead of maintaining them,!”

Sara Mohammed
Sara Mohammed
6 years ago
Reply to  Guest

Maintaining what exactly?! its horrible and it has nothing to do with Qatari culture why would they keep it!

FalconFlyer
FalconFlyer
6 years ago

One of the indicators of Arabic culture across the GCC countries are their souks and it is painful to see the Qatari authorities erasing the history of their land on their own will. The planners need to realize that the old and the new can co-exist. Has been done elsewhere and can be done here too. All you need to achieve that is cultural sensitivity which is clearly lacking here.
I hope they realize that all the malls built in lieu of these, can never ever duplicate the bonding that takes place in such markets.

Sara Mohammed
Sara Mohammed
6 years ago
Reply to  FalconFlyer

What you are saying is BEAUTIFUL I completly agree, but we are not erasing our history because S.ahmad was not part of our history its an air condishened mall that was built in the 80s which became so old and need to be replaced and used for better projects. for example you have Mesharid that is miles away from this souq, they kept what we can call the history of Qatar the old houses and Masjeds and Qatar’s first street as a part in their project they changed nothing in it they made it as a large meusim. When it comes to history , culture and identity don’t worry nobody can beat Qatar and Qatari people in keeping and saving it

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago

Nothing like expats feeling nostalgic about a Souq built 25 yrs ago

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Better than a mall built 5 minutes ago. At least it had character and was fun to explore.

Jassimalrumaihi
Jassimalrumaihi
6 years ago

What do you get for not cooperating with the law and the government, and for risking the life of hundreds by using unsafe candles in a 1st world country? Punishment. Kindness should have a limit.

Rashid
Rashid
6 years ago

You said it all, and if they were bured or killed. Qatar is blamed!

Turkish
Turkish
6 years ago

i thing my shop still open 5-10-15 ?

Coco
Coco
6 years ago

People always act like they’re surprised…tear it all down. There’s nothing traditional about collapsing buildings. Well i hope there isn’t anyway.

Nedal Atawneh
Nedal Atawneh
6 years ago

hey man i am happy and sad at the same time. I mean we been there many times as kids buying stuff for EID so it’s sad that it’s gone but i am happy cause i don’t have to go over there any more with my wife to buy abaya for her and stay for like 3 hours going in circles looking for the best price or the best design.

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