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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Souq Haraj under threat as developer plans new complex on market site

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Doha’s “second hand souq”  – Souq Haraj – could soon be no more.

It’s likely to soon be handed over to developers, who have plans to build an upmarket commercial center and two hotels on the site, the Peninsula reports.

Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani’s company, Al Faisal Holdings, said it is “holding talks with the authorities to complete the paperwork for the handover,” according to the newspaper. 

Al Thani added that the shops in the souq will be moved elsewhere, but he didn’t give any more details. 

He says that his plans for the area are his company’s contribution to Doha’s preparations for the 2022 World Cup, in a bid to add “new and modern infrastructure facilities” in the city.

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If the deal goes ahead, it will be disappointing news for the thousands of shoppers who visit the market every week. The area is particularly busy on weekends, attracting a mixed crowd of low-income shoppers and bargain hunters.

Oasis

Given the rising cost of living in Qatar, the souq is a rare oasis of affordable goods for cash-strapped shoppers. Stalls and shops sell a mixed bag of items, including household goods such as furniture, cookware, and air-conditioning units, as well as clothing and toys. 

In February, the Gulf Times ran an homage to the souq, “Where small money can fetch a big deal.” 

The article quotes stallholder Asadullah Fazil, who says that the souq has gotten busier as the city has become a more expensive place to live in:

“As a salesperson, my observation is that people simply do not have any money to spend on new things. So, more and more people are coming to us,” he says.

Pakistani expat Noor Mohamed Bangash, a regular visitor to the souq, added:

“Things that used to end up in dustbins a couple of years ago are being sold now,” he says. “And the crowd here keeps getting bigger.”

Do you shop at Souq Haraj? Will you miss it if it goes?

Credit: Photos by Penny Yi Wang

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