The Huwaila Four
The Huwaila Four sound like they should be characters in a comic book. In fact they are four parks near Landmark that few people know about. They don’t have super powers, but each is special in its own way.
The most visible of the four is Huwaila 3, whose name was officially changed to the more pedantic Khalifa North City Park. In the neighbourhood however, it is still known by it’s former spunky name. It has the distinction of being simultaneously the most visible of the four while also the most difficult to pinpoint. If you’re paying attention, you’ll see it as you drive north on Shamal Road, just a bit before you reach the Landmark exit. Even though you can see it, you will likely not be able to locate it in the warren of streets surrounding it. Even if you are within a few feet, it is easy to overlook. Two palm trees just inside the surrounding wall and the green-tiled roof of the guard house mark the spot. No buzz draws attention to it, but this is the only park in Qatar that has integrated a substantial amount of sustainable shade into the design. A half-size football field is flanked by bleacher seating covered with a wooden pergola providing speckled shade. If more parks integrated shade this way, the whole of Qatar would be making a large step toward reducing water usage.
Similar shading, albeit on a smaller scale, can be found at Huwaila 2 a few blocks away. Here large trees complement the shade given by the pergolas near the playground. Huwaila 2 has been around for almost 30 years. While it is not shiny and sparkly, it has aged well and authentically. In the evenings women stroll in leisurely along the uneven pavement with young children, and men sit on mats on the grass. This is the kind of park that neighbors go to for a shot of green and a breath of air, to picnic under the sun or laugh under the moon.
A few more blocks away is Huwaila 1, a basic park consisting of a grass field and small play ground. Also known as Wasit Park, its official name is currently Ghariya Park. It is within hopping distance of the very popular Dahl al-Hamam Park. Huwaila 1 is the place to go when Dahl al-Hamam is randomly closed or taken over by school classes. The few pieces of play equipment tucked into the far corner appeal to toddlers as well as pre-teen boys wanting to perfect their pole-dangling abilities. Do note, there are no bathrooms on site.
Huwaila 4, the newest of the bunch, is simply known as Al Huwaila. Primary-coloured circus tops shade the play area. Combine that with old-growth palm trees, bushes, multi-coloured flowers and grass and you’ve got a park that feels light-hearted and cheerful. Paved walkways cater to your scooting, walking or stroller-pushing needs. Two play areas allow for plenty of tumbling space for children. One is based in sand and the other on rubber mats. Night lighting keeps this park relevant at night when young adults make thorough use of the basketball courts. It’s a feel-good park that makes one want to visit again and again.
The Huwaila Four are all located in the Madinat Khalifa neighborhood, which boasts the highest concentration of parks in Doha. Dahl al-Hamam Park is the largest and most popular but many other smaller pockets of green are scattered throughout the neighbourhood. If you like crumbling, single-storey houses and small shops you may want to buffer your schedule so you can drive around a bit. The streets around Huwaila 2 and 3 are especially ripe with detail. You’ll find tailors next to local eateries next to butcher shops. Look closely for subtle details on doors, corn growing outside compound walls and roosters strutting their stuff on the streets. It may not be the Fantastic Four, but there is definitely something special about the Huwaila Four and their