Government officials have announced plans to construct a new Souq Haraj, home of one of Qatar’s largest second-hand markets, next to Barwa Village.
Currently, the souq sells a wide range of used household goods such as furniture, appliances, carpets and electronics, among others items.
Its low prices make it popular with bargain hunters as well as many low and middle-income earners in Qatar, where the cost of living is climbing faster than salaries for many individuals.
The current Souq Haraj is located in Najma. Plans surfaced in mid-2013 to demolish the market and make way for a pair of hotels and a modern commercial center.
A “pre-concept design” for the new City Center Haraj showed plans for a 78,000 square meter mall, two four-star hotels that include serviced apartments and 3,200 parking spots.
The project – which is being developed by Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani’s company, Al Faisal Holdings – “aims to gentrify the whole Al Matar neighborhood into becoming a fine residential area of Doha,” according to the brief prepared by architectural firm Promontorio.
The plan, according to the document, was to open City Center Haraj this year. However, a spokesperson for the developer told Doha News that there is no new timeline for the project.
However, Qatar’s Ministry of Economy and Commerce appears to be moving forward with plans to construct a new Souq Haraj.
Starting tomorrow, developers can pick up tender documents and begin preparing bids to construct a new 35,000-square-meter souq that includes shops, restaurants and cafes.
While no location is explicitly mentioned, a map attached to an announcement published this week shows that the property is located on the west side of Barwa Village, which is off Al Wakrah Road, roughly 2km south of F-Ring Road.
The ministry called the new location “a strategic area to facilitate the demands of citizens and residents through providing a complete market with the necessary infrastructure.”
The new Souq Haraj project is being managed in part by Manateq, an “autonomous government company” set to spend billions of riyals developing and operating special economic zones in Qatar in the coming years.
The first is a warehousing and logistics hub named Ras Bufontas, which would be located on slightly more than four square kilometers of land south of the new Hamad International Airport, on the east side of Al Wakrah Road:
It’s unclear how the Souq Haraj project – which appears to be just outside Ras Bufontas – fits in with Manateq’s economic zones. The Manateq official overseeing the souq initiative could not be reached for comment today.
Qatar Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa officially launched the Ras Bufontas economic zone project in November. Along with touting its proximity to the airport, officials said companies will benefit from “a one-stop-shop for various essential services to start their operations.”
While last November’s announcement did not contain details on how Ras Bufontas would operate, companies inside special economic zones typically receive favorable financial treatment through breaks on corporate taxes and import duties compared to businesses located elsewhere in the country.
Governments typically set up special economic zones to attract foreign investment, create jobs and boost trade.
Manateq says the first of three phases in Ras Bufontas would be completed by March 2017.