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?