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JustHere | December 8, 2016

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The Qatar Underbelly: Life on the edge, at Waqif and inside Umm Ghuwalina

The Qatar Underbelly: Life on the edge, at Waqif and inside Umm Ghuwalina

Mostafa Sheshtawy, a photo journalist, has lived here all his life, and grew up in a different Qatar, in the 90s. He visits the areas of his childhood. “All the places that housed my memories are now gone or are being built into something else. I capture the remnants with my camera and hold on to my nostalgia.”

Sheshtawy believes that Qatar should maintain better or renovate some of its original areas (now called old-Doha by some), instead of razing everything to the ground, and building new structures. He visits places crumbling under the pressure of modernisation, that were once considered prime residential areas.

In the first part of this series, he visits Umm Ghuwalina (also known as Mughalina) and around Souq Waqif (parts of Msheireb).

  • Come take a seat under this shaded outdoor majlis. Pages from a Doha picture book that tells a different story. Come take a seat under this shaded outdoor majlis. Pages from a Doha picture book that tells a different story.
  • These are sites you would never see unless you plan a visit to the inner recesses of the old city, not so far from the everyone's favourite Souq Waqif. These are sites you would never see unless you plan a visit to the inner recesses of the old city, not so far from the everyone's favourite Souq Waqif.
  • The alleys that hold the homes of low income labourers. A question mark hangs over these homes and its residents. The alleys that hold the homes of low income labourers. A question mark hangs over these homes and its residents.
  • The neighbourhood sees extra action on Fridays as the residents go to and fro from prayers and meals. The neighbourhood sees extra action on Fridays as the residents go to and fro from prayers and meals.
  • Here in Umm Ghuwalina, these doors open into the homes of ‘bachelors’. Here in Umm Ghuwalina, these doors open into the homes of ‘bachelors’.
  • A typical Doha metaphor. At the foot of a shiny buildings are plots of land waiting for a new lease of life. A typical Doha metaphor. At the foot of a shiny buildings are plots of land waiting for a new lease of life.
  • Between the old and the new, are narrow alleys with wide differences. Between the old and the new, are narrow alleys with wide differences.
     

“Enough of skyscrapers; let’s fix this side of the city. Not just tear it down.”

“Broken doors, broken cars, everything looked decrepit, yet there was an authenticity associated with age – old buildings and walls that have seen better times, from a different era. The predominantly male population of the area – low income workers of various nationalities – were very friendly.”

These areas are within a five kilometre radius of the bustling business district of high rises and glass facades associated with the Doha dream, yet as far removed from it as one could imagine.

 

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Comments

  1. Nofe Al-Suwaidi

    These areas have some hold some of the most valuable remnants of Qatari history. I really hope that there is some hope for some of the gems that are hidden away in this area of town. Some of the old homes in this area show an authentic insight into what life really used to be like.

    Besides that, some of these home should really be considered an architectural treasure.

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