All photos by Chantelle D’mello
With reporting from Riham Sheble
With the fasting month of Ramadan over, and Eid celebrations around the country winding down, residents of Doha – both human and animal – are finally getting back to their regular eating schedules.
After a month-long hiatus, local restaurant Aush Al Bulbul, located in a busy Al Sadd street opposite Popeye’s, has resumed its tradition of feeding hundreds of pigeons each day.
Speaking to Doha News, Abdulaziz Al-Sayyid Ali, a 36-year-old Egyptian expat who has been working at the restaurant for the past 12 years, explained that the practice originated well before his time.
“When I came here, the store was across the road. We moved to the current location 10 years ago. The owners who are Egyptians, have been feeding the birds ever since they opened,” he said.
To him, the action is a way of showing gratitude to God by feeding His creations.
Pigeons are a common sight in Qatar, and there are apparently five different species of the birds here. Flocks of them can be seen gathering in certain hotspots around the country, including on the Corniche and outside popular eateries.
In Arabic, Aush Al Bulbul roughly translates into “nest of nightingales.” However, contrary to popular belief, though the restaurant provides a feeding ground for pigeons, it does not serve them on its menu.
Rather, it is widely known in Qatar for a variety of dishes, including shwarmas, falafels, eggs, foul (beans), potatoes, hamburgers, sandwiches and chicken and beef liver.
The pigeons flock to Aush Al Bulbul twice a day, first turning up in the early morning to receive their supply of grain, cereal and nuts. They stay on the pavement outside the restaurant until around 10am, and then return at around 4:30pm for a second feeding, staying until sunset.
According to Ali, food fed to the pigeons isn’t provided by the restaurant, but is instead donated by customers and other benefactors who store grain in bags inside the eatery.
“We only provide water. Everything else, people give us,” he said.