Wadi Al Sail: Stories that will never be told
We have a saying in the Gulf that “he who doesn’t have a past will never have a future”. Every community has a past, of course, but what version of that past goes down in history?
More to the point, whose past is being documented for posterity? And if that past doesn’t matter, does that mean it has to be demolished? The past here is recorded in the form of oral history, stories passed down from memory to another. Once historical sites have been physically destroyed they become only memories – memories that may some day fade and die, leaving future generations lost and unaware of their past.
The original inhabitants asked the government to provide a school and a mosque. Today, looking around the area you can see a police station, a fire station and Hamad Hospital, and it has easy access to the centre of the capital.
Wadi Al Sail is a strategic and populous area of Doha. As it was near the sea, people used to live there for the pearling business, fishing and so on. Once Qatar embarked on its course of rapid development, the area grew in importance as a focus for more settled urban life. The original inhabitants asked the government to provide a school and a mosque. Today, looking around the area you can see a police station, a fire station and Hamad Hospital, and it has easy access to the centre of the capital. The people of Wadi Al Sail have lived through, and reflect the history of the area’s development.
There is absolutely no point in dwelling on a past that has been destroyed, with people forced out in return for financial compensation from the government. When the place you call home is taken away, it probably means something more important is being built for the greater good of the community.
People who were evicted from the West Bay area complain that their old home has been turned into a private business district for important figures. The historical district of Wadi Al Sail, on the other hand, has been transformed into a park. Yet this park has taken away much of our past, so that many of our stories will remain untold, and many things unknown.
Let’s hope there will be no exploitative non-governmental businesses in the area, since it has been destroyed for the sake of the common good.