The drive is seen to further divide a fragmented society into a class that “owns classic and luxury cars” and another for ordinary car owners.
Social media users are accusing Al Maha Island of reinforcing a “consumerist culture” in Qatar after the island announced its latest Al Maha Drive project.
Scheduled to open in November, it is allegedly the only street in the world that includes a group of the most famous international restaurants, including Zuma and Carbone.
However, entry to the street will be restricted to members who own classic and luxury cars
The registration fees amount to QAR 12,000 annually, but memberships are only available for 100 cars currently. The membership benefits include entry to the island from its VIP gate with exclusive access to Al Maha Drive and VIP valet services.
To apply, users have to state the car’s plate number, model, year, brand, colour, and upload a picture of the car in addition to a scan of their registration card.
Al Maha Island, which is located across the Lusail Marina promenade and connected to the mainland by a causeway, is expected to draw more than 1.5 million visitors annually. It features Al Maha Arena, Nammos Beach Club, Lusail Winter Wonderland, and more.
In a statement to Doha News, the company assured “Al Maha Island will be open to the public, and all vehicles are welcome to park in designated areas.
“Al Maha Drive is a one-kilometer-long path that connects Al Maha’s high-end restaurants to the sea. The idea is based on popular Mediterranean port destinations where restaurant patrons can exhibit their exotic or classic cars.
“Al Maha Drive provides car enthusiasts with an opportunity to view some of Qatar’s finest automobiles all in one location,” it added.
News of the ‘exclusive’ driveway has sparked criticism online.
“This is a strange project that promotes capitalism, cynicism, the love of appearances, and behaviors that we must get rid of, not strengthen. Instead of dividing society into a class that “owns classic and luxury cars” and another that owns ordinary cars. Isn’t the debt enough? Isn’t bullying enough? Is it shallowness not rampant and offset by cultural weakness? Isn’t the consumerist culture enough?” said Qatari writer Reem Al Harmi on Twitter.
“Medieval decision. I question whether we are in 2022 from these decisions that take us back to the dark ages and the days of the bourgeois classes. Since when did places become for a certain class? Why do you want to cause division among the people! I can’t imagine myself in a public place having the security guard stop me from entering a place because my car is not up to a certain standard,” tweeted another user.
“Designing the city with such honest classism is terrifying,” tweeted another user.
“This is the only street we want to actually see closed, O Ashghal,” one user said, mocking the closure of streets for work around the country.
“Entry to the street will be restricted to subscribers who own classic and luxury cars???? And you say to me, this is not a story from one of the black mirror episodes??? Fear God, people..so we must create imaginary places free of the poor, so that we can feel that we are from the class that deserves the luxuries of life? Disgusting,” another Twitter user said.
While most came out in criticism of the decision, a few defended it.
“A very nice idea and is good marketing for tourism. Tourism consists of layers; working, middle and rich. In the end it is free trade. Will we ever find the working class complaining about the existence of places they cannot enter? Those criticising but will only travel in business class, is the classification of passenger seats racist?” said a user.
This is not the first time the entry policy of a public place was debated in the country.
In May, Place Vendome stated that the mall will only be open to families on Fridays, which is usually the only day many migrant workers have off after a long week of work.