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Friday, March 5, 2021

Report: Dozens of businesses in Doha’s old downtown face evictions

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Grand Hamad (Swords) intersection, Doha
Grand Hamad (Swords) intersection, Doha

As the redevelopment of Qatar’s old downtown area continues, dozens of old shops and offices, including the well-known New World Center, have reportedly been issued eviction notices after being earmarked for demolition.

At least 50 shops on Ras Abu Aboud Street, between Grand Hamad (Swords) intersection and Dar Al Khuttub roundabout in Old Ghanim have been sent notices by the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning (MMUP).

Around 15 more on the nearby stretch of Al Asmakh Street between Grand Hamad and Jaidah Tower have also been notified, the Peninsula reports.

According to the newspaper, the MMUP served notice on the properties on Oct. 21, saying they are being acquired for public benefit and that the Land Acquiring Department Services would complete the required procedures within two weeks.

It also said that electricity and water supplies would be disconnected to start demolition of properties to use the land for an “indented project.”

Some shopkeepers told the newspaper that their water and electricity were cut off last week.

Old downtown

Once the heart of Doha’s bustling downtown, the area was packed with hundreds of small shops and offices, many of which have been there for decades.

Old streets in Msheireb
Old streets in Msheireb

The New World Center, for example, is a Doha institution and has been on that site for 27 years. It was established in 1987 as an emporium that sold an eclectic range of reasonably-priced goods, from electronics to fashion, household furnishings and toys.

New World Center - Facebook
New World Center

No one from the company was immediately available to comment on the reported closure, or to say if it would move to new premises.

Parent company Ansar Group runs a number of other stores across Qatar under the brands Ansar Gallery and Ansar City, including inside City Center Mall, in Al Mansoura, on Salwa Road, and in Al Rayyan and Al Khor.

Metro works

As many of the buildings in the area start to show their age, sections of the downtown are being gradually taken over for redevelopment or to make way for the Doha Metro.

Doha-Metro-Phase-1-Gold-Line-771x544
Gold Line plans

A number of businesses in Old Ghanim have already moved out, to Najma or to the purpose-built Barwa Avenue near the Industrial Area – although the owners there have complained of higher rents.

The metro will have a number of lines running across this district, including the Gold Line, which cuts right through the latest ear-marked area, from the main network hub of Msheireb, down Wadi Msheireb and Ali bin Abdullah Street to Ras Abu Aboud Street, past the northern end of Doha International Airport’s runway.

Msheireb itself has already undergone a transformation and is now almost unrecognizable to many long-time residents.

Alaateda mall
Alaateda mall

In nearby Najma, the secondhand market Souq Haraj has been under threat for a number of years as the site has been eyed by Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani’s company Al Faisal Holding for a shopping mall, City Center Haraj.

Meanwhile, Barwa Real Estate announced plans earlier this year to build a new QR500 million (US$137.31 million) mall near Msheireb district which would offer new, “affordable” accommodation for many of the small shops forced to close due to demolition in the area.

The Alaateda (“mechanical machinery” in English) mall will have space for 650 outlets and will be located on A-Ring road/Rawdat Al-Khail.

Summer evictions

Elsewhere in Qatar, hundreds of residents were forcibly evicted from their accommodation in the Asmakh area of downtown in June, after being sent eviction notices by MMUP.

Msheireb eviction - Chantelle d'Mello
Msheireb eviction

Mostly low-income, South Asian expats, the residents reported officers from the Internal Security Forces (ISF) raiding the buildings during the first week of Ramadan, breaking down doors and forcing the men out on the street.

They were seen scrabbling for their few possessions and many were left homeless as they tried to search for emergency accommodation.

At the time, some residents told Doha News that while they knew eviction notices had been posted on their buildings, they didn’t pay much attention to them as they were all in Arabic.

As rents continue to rise across all of Qatar and the country faces a housing crunch, particularly at the affordable end of the market, many of the expats voiced their desperation to find a new home.

Just days after their eviction, one worker told Doha News:

“They’re breaking down all the places where there are affordable housing for us. We’ve tried Wakra, Najma, and have found nothing. We have nowhere to go, and no one to go to for help.”

Thoughts?

48 COMMENTS

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Peter Pickle
Peter Pickle
6 years ago

”Mostly low-income, South Asian expats, the residents reported officers from the Internal Security Forces (ISF) raiding the buildings during the first week of Ramadan, breaking down doors and forcing the men out on the street.

They were seen scrabbling for their few possessions and many were left homeless as they tried to search for emergency accommodation.”

Expect Amazing !

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
6 years ago

some of these buildings, if restored, would be so beautiful! But no heritage and history and puff! they are down….such a pity that no real past architecture is maintained!

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
6 years ago
Reply to  fullmoon07

the oldest of the buildings there are like what 60 years? not really a historical building that needs to be preserved

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
6 years ago

you’re wrong. What you built 60 years ago should be improved and maintained. If everyone would think like you, you would not visit today the Alhambra!! You make history if you leave traces. See, this is not the mentality of country with history. But again, this does not really apply here. You don’t preserve, you have no history. I like old Doha. It has more personality than the new one

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
6 years ago
Reply to  fullmoon07

“It has more personality than the new one”

hahaha, you have no idea how hilarious it is when an expat looks at a crappy part of a city and says it has personality. thats like me going 2 a western nation walking in a trailer park or a council house and say wow so much character such personality.

our history isnt in a building, old qatari’s lived in tents or in houses they built themselfs out of materials that honestly weren’t built to last. a peoples history isnt necessarily in there buildings. i look at the uk for example and i see some buildings hundreds of years old but people have lost all their traditions. id rather keep the traditions and loose the buildings then the other way around

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
6 years ago

but still you had constructions before….you change the subject to traditions. That’s something different.

We are talking about constructions and urban plans! You have another Doha now, so why like it? You have skyscrapers that you almost had none in West bay, you could count them on ONE hand 12 years ago. So? You should not like them at all!!!
Still you had to make a new souq and having it as a franchise to Wakra to feel you have something typical….of course, you’re bringing down anything from the past.

Be coherent! Your past is important for the future history of this country!
PS.

And as usual you can only take the UK as an example….like if us Europeans we are all the same…yeah you’re an Arab from the Gulf and I talk to you about Morocco stuff.

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
6 years ago

and PS. then you have the old souq all restored and making it look traditionally when in the past the streets were made of sand and it had very ugly building. So, there is a wish to make some history. You don’t pre-fabricate history, you make history!

Anonymous
Anonymous
6 years ago
Reply to  fullmoon07

Really? They kept the historical buildings at Mushirab.

Ulfberht
Ulfberht
6 years ago
Reply to  fullmoon07

If they can level Al Bida ‘n Arumeilah, everything else can go.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  fullmoon07

You’re wrong on many accounts… Go to al ruwais, al khor or other old towns and villages in the north… Go to al rayyan or wakra and see the old palaces… The area around the diwan once complete will display old palaces in bidda… You need to differentiate what has value and what is just an old house that looks nothing like the original …

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

I know al Wakra, I have been here long enough to see another Doha. Still the urban plans of a place will be totally upset. And there is not a lot of consciousness about the fact that every time you bring down something, it is something that will not stay for the future. It is a pity.

yesjay
yesjay
6 years ago

“Expect the Unexpected”

Myrddin
Myrddin
6 years ago

On the one hand – Progress must be slow – to protect the culture and heritage of Qatar.

On the other hand – the very fabric of culture and heritage must be destroyed – for the sake of progress.

A dichotomy indeed?

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago

nothing like a bunch of expats who’ve been here for two years to feel all nostalgic about an old super market and Sana !!

Myrddin
Myrddin
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

I was in Berlin, a few years after The Wall came down. West Berlin was pre-dominantly 60’s 70’s steel glass concrete. East Berlin was reviving the old turn of the century buildings which had not been demolished in the aftermath of WW2. Old cafes were being restored to their Art Nouveau glory that the West of Berlin had decided were better replaced with the new. I much preferred East Berlin, complete with historical bullet holes.

Name one leading Internationally admired city which has completely eradicated its past?

Althani
Althani
6 years ago
Reply to  Myrddin

Certainly not Doha

Dak
Dak
6 years ago
Reply to  Myrddin

Beirut 🙂

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Myrddin

Man what are you talking about ? Cities like london, Berlin, Paris and Istanbul have buildings that back a few hundred years ago and not since 1972! These buildings have architectural value, the hosted places in history and need to be preserved… This is a fricken super market from the 80’s…

The houses are nothing like the original… They’ve been changed that the original is no longer recognized with several illegal additional floors and rooms and annexes…

Still several sites in the north and palaces in rayyan and locations in wakra are preserved because they provide a historical context and preserve the image of the city

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago
Reply to  Myrddin

The difference being that Berlin Mitte in what became East Berlin was the historical heart of the old city and generally there were a lot of fine historical buildings that were worth saving (including the Palace which the Russians demolished for political reasons).

Althani
Althani
6 years ago

The only place i miss is soog el ahmad hahaha

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

It’s progress and time to move on. Most of it is appalling and I’ll be glad to see the back of it.

“The New World Center, for example, is a Doha institution and has been on that site for 27 years”

27 years, wow, up there with the Taj Mahal, Stonehenge and the pyramids.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Exactly since when is a super market an instatution ? It’s like an old k-mart that has zero architectural value and no contriutbtion to culture !!

Instead buildings like the old literary nearby, mosques and majles are all being preserved including old govt buildings like the fire dept, baldiya and foreign ministry ..

Is the expectation each house that’s over 30 yrs to be preserved ?

Edward
Edward
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Not everyone has the luxury to be predominantly concerned with “architectural value” and “contribution to culture.” This comes across as snobbish; in the developed world, there are plenty of old, unattractive commercial centers that are valued institutions in their communities.

The free market (such as it is in Qatar) is how New World Center became an “institution.” I.e., it sells products that people want to buy at prices that they can afford at a venue that they can access. Sounds like much more of a positive aggregate contribution to the lives of Qatar residents than various white-elephant “cultural” projects or the “luxury” arms race in shopping malls, which will no doubt result in a lot of losing businesses.

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Good riddance. Frankly its an embarrassment to this country that you can step out of the new airport, drive down that amazing new road, come past the Sharq Hotel, over the flyover and then… what greets you? Sana Roundabout?? And New World Center? The sooner they get rid of those disgusting old buildings the better. They are a blight on the landscape.

Shops like New World Center, with their complete and utter lack of car parking do nothing more than cause traffic pain to the rest of us. The sooner it’s gone the better.

Max
Max
6 years ago

Soldiers smashing doors down putting people on the street scrabbling for their belongings ! Haven’t we seen this sort of behavior before in history , 1940’s Germany comes to mind ! Sort it out Qatar tearing your historical part of the city down to support a World Cup, if you want to bring high end investment and exposure to your country by inspiring entrepreneurs bring Formula One here not football.and the interest will be on an annual basis.Anyway my thoughts are with the poor individuals who will be evicted with nowhere to go.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Max

How about they go home ?

Max
Max
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

How about the Qatari’s build their roads and Metro themselves then how about not bringing them here in the first place if that’s your attitude. How about a bit of respect for human beings. Must be some Nazi’s still knocking about.

Guest
Guest
6 years ago
Reply to  Max

ok what do u want?

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago
Reply to  Max

There are certainly issues with the way Qatar handles immigration, but to call Qataris Nazis is so stupid, and coming from an educator makes it quite shocking.

The nearest thing to Nazi Germany today is the US, Israel, North Korea, and Burma. Still, I would not make such a comparison as Nazi Germany was way more atrocious than anything in today’s world.

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago
Reply to  Max

There are certainly issues with the way Qatar handles immigration, but to call Qataris Nazis is so stupid, and coming from an educator makes it quite shocking.

The nearest thing to Nazi Germany today is the US, Israel, North Korea, and Burma. Still, I would not make such a comparison as Nazi Germany was way more atrocious than anything in today’s world.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

So calling US, Israel, North Korea, and Burma Nazis is OK? I’d say a fair comparison would be ISIS not those. Your comments were just…so stupid.

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Yep, Nazism reminds me of a few countries I can think of…

Nazism was specifically characterised by:

Building on a charismatic leader figure (Adolf Hitler) and on the support of the military,

Inventing common enemies (Jews, communists, liberals, pacifists, free masons, gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, etc.),

Trying to re-model the working class by making the workers focus on ‘higher ideals’ than the traditional class struggle; such ‘higher ideals’ included extreme nationalism, racism, and especially war.

Altaf
Altaf
6 years ago
Reply to  Max

Then why did you come to Nazi’s land. Go back…

Max
Max
6 years ago
Reply to  Altaf

I was asked to come here by your government to assist in overhauling your education system. You guy’s have really opened my eyes to what Qatari’s really think bad attitude lads all that hate doesn’t bode well for the future.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Max

No you’re here because you get a big fat tax free pay check at the end of each month. You gathered an opinion from reading one article and start calling us nazis! And you call yourself an educator …

Althani
Althani
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

haha an educator? im laughing so hard

Bajn
Bajn
6 years ago
Reply to  Max

@ Guest. I really hope you are not a teacher. “You guy’s” and “what Qatari’s really think” ?

Blue
Blue
6 years ago

Amazing what the regeneration of complete areas are doing to the Doha landscape – I love it and the old dilapidated buildings got to go. Look at Souq Waqif now – brand new ‘old’ structures!!!!! Please plan parking though.

Sheraton was refurbished (iconic structure), fire station (provided it does not burn down) and post office for sure need to remain albeit with a modern touch. The Fanar bldg too is iconic.

As for the workers unfortunately Doha needs much more affordable housing – if I get an Arabic notice though on my house, car, I’d get it translated first thing.

New world center building at parachute signal (rndabt) – brand new bldg – guess they moving there

Altaf
Altaf
6 years ago

New developments should be made, but with proper planning. You can’t notice someone to evacuate home next day or shop in 2 weeks. This is misusing of someone’s needs.

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago

I am quite surprised that some expats are now nostalgic of the New World Center! Seriously guys? Do you
consider some old shops and dirty buildings as something with a cultural and historical value that Qatar should preserve? And by the way, how many of you are regular shoppers at these places? Or is it just criticizing for the sake of criticizing?

outdoorsboys
outdoorsboys
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Yes. A simple answer. Qatar has a rapidly changing face and a very recent history which will be utterly lost at his rate. ‘Old shops and Dirty buildings- such was the fabric of many other cities, and the few bits that survived progress are new cosseted and preserved within an inch of their lives. Buildings don’t have to be architecturally excellent to contribute to the heart of a city. One day soon , Landmark will probably be swept away, yet its truly a Landmark in the City. Doha is being reinvented and if the authorities don’t take stock, and view what they have with some perspective, the city will be a soulless retail park

outdoorsboys
outdoorsboys
6 years ago

You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Sweep away all the old small businesses, all the quirky places and replace with sanitized, global branded Malls, which probably exclude the people who patronized the old shops. Meanwhile recreate a pastiche of old- world disneyesque Doha/Wakra ‘Souks’ .

Anonymous
Anonymous
6 years ago
Reply to  outdoorsboys

Will they replace it will global branded mall? That wasn’t the case with neighboring Souq Waqif and Mushirab.

Expat77
Expat77
6 years ago

It’s Qatar s choice to demolish obsolete structures….New world centre area has overflowing sewers .
I am against making brand new “antiques ” like Souq waqif…..should build things which appear new ..or renovate old…

Mehrea
6 years ago

Qataris are the luckiest people in the world. They are using their money for building and transforming their country. Hope they could concentrate or give a share to the other cities in Qatar.

disqus_CpJJvzDxuG
disqus_CpJJvzDxuG
6 years ago

Interesting thread here on what deserves to be preserved…but I think, if any of you have been inside New World you probably would not argue in favor of keeping such a building. It isn’t well designed or constructed at all. With the amount of stuff crammed in there it even feels like a death trap.
I guess if you completely rip out the interiors, improve the facade and have some clever ideas to put it to better use, then more power to you. It’s true we don’t need to demolish and build from scratch to make the city grow. But we sometimes have to accept new things too. I don’t feel sorry to lose the New World building. The only thing that saddens me is that I keep hearing about shopping malls

BBCA
BBCA
6 years ago

Change is tough but this has gotta happen to make Doha a better city. I just pray that with all this development they actually consider the traffic that will be generated as a result of the changes. The finished product have to accommodate traffic and parking. Doha seems to have a bad track record for accommodating parking and traffic.

Dona Cmp
Dona Cmp
6 years ago

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