Browsing 'Al Wakrah' News

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Souq Wakrah

Qatar residents looking for something fun to do this weekend have their choice of two different festivals being held at Souq Waqif and Souq Wakrah.

Those having trouble deciding where to go tonight (Jan. 20) may want to head south.

That’s because Souq Wakrah is marking its inaugural spring festival with a “spectacular” fireworks show at 8pm.

Reem Saad / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The souq is also holding a regular operetta near the seaside that recreates what life was like in Qatar before oil and gas were discovered.

There’s also a kid zone with games and rides, and other entertainment.

Speaking to the Qatar Tribune, Souq Al Wakrah Manager Khalid al Suwaidi said some 10,000 visitors are expected to attend the event each day. He said:

“Souq Al Wakrah is quiet because many events are held in Doha. Through the festival, we expect to attract many visitors to Souq Al Wakrah, especially families.”

Other festivals

Meanwhile, Souq Waqif’s annual Spring Festival also kicks off this weekend.

It runs from 3:30pm to 10:30pm daily through Feb. 3 and includes several cultural festivals, a musical parade and concerts by Arab singers.

The controversial dolphin show has also returned to the Souq’s amusement park (aka Al Ahmed Square).

Chantelle D'mello / Doha News

Souq Waqif Spring Festival 2015

This will be held from 4pm to 5pm and from 7pm to 8pm each day. The area is also hosting rides and games for children.

And over at Katara Cultural Village, a winter festival is going on from Sunday, Jan. 22 to Jan. 26 from 4pm to 9pm daily.

The event includes interactive exhibitions on falconry and salukis, traditional food, cultural shows and games.

The program schedule for that festival is here.

Thoughts?

Wakrah Stadium works

SCDL

Wakrah Stadium works

After a long period of enabling works, construction has commenced in earnest at the site of a World Cup stadium in Al Wakrah, where the quarter-finals will be held in 2022.

Organizers said the stands have begun to rise from the ground and that the work takes new significance following the death of architect Zaha Hadid, who designed the structure.

“We are very proud to have her legacy here in Qatar, as one of the iconic designs that will be referenced in her legacy,” said project manager Thani Khalifa Al Zarraa in a statement.

Wakrah Stadium rendering

SCDL

Wakrah Stadium rendering

The main contractor MIDMAC, which is in a joint venture with PORR Qatar and Six Construction, will begin erecting cranes in the coming weeks and is expected to complete the stadium’s steel roof structure in 15 to 17 months.

The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy said it will take about 30 months to finish construction on the site, or until about the fourth quarter of 2018.

All World Cup stadiums are slated to be completed by 2020.

Thoughts?

All photos by Chantelle D’mello

Months after its soft opening on Qatar National Day in December, a new picturesque souq in Al Wakrah continues to attract visitors with the opening of more cafes, as well as a sea-side view and open promenade.

But a lack of indoor seating and a ban on shisha smoking appears to have made it a less popular venue during the summer months.

Souq Waqif Al Wakrah

Lesley Walker

Souq Waqif Al Wakrah

Situated behind the Al Wakrah petrol station and dubbed Qatar’s second Souq Waqif, the souq is a 3km development along the town’s coast, and one of the few recreational options for residents living in the southern city.

Designed to look like an aged fishing village as a homage to Al Wakrah’s heritage, the souq’s low-walled, courtyard-like areas are slated to house a wide variety of eateries and shops in the coming months.

Overseen by the Private Engineering Office, a government agency under the Emiri Diwan that provides development, project management and property management services for sites around Qatar, the project has been in the works for at least seven years.

It is part of a master plan to transform the former south coast fishing village of Al Wakrah to include more recreational, leisure and heritage offerings.

No crowds

However, almost seven months after it was first opened to the public, the souq’s winding alleyways and stores seem deserted, with few cafes and only a handful of shops open for business.

Souq Waqif - Al Wakrah

Chantelle D'mello

Souq Waqif – Al Wakrah

Most are small coffee shops situated along the venue’s Corniche, offering minimal indoor seating and serving up a mix of quick bites and beverages to diners.

While other tourist destinations in Doha boast international franchises, popular local eateries and luxury restaurants, the focus at the Al Wakrah souq seems to be on supporting small and first-time local restaurateurs.

Speaking to Doha News, Abdullah Bourguiba, the manager at the newly opened Dar Tunis, one of the few larger dining establishments at the souq, said affordability was a key goal.

“It’s because the clientele is different. If you go to Souq Waqif, they’re catering mostly to tourists. If you go to Katara, the clients are mostly the elite. At both places, you have to spend money to have a good time.

In Wakrah, the people that live here are the middle class….who cannot afford to spend too much. So the type of restaurants that we have here cater to that. They’re small cafes that are reasonable or new restaurants that are opening for the first time.”

Pressure to open

Several new restaurants have opened up in the past few months, partly due to pressure from the souq’s management.

Bourguiba, whose restaurant opened only a few days ago, said that he, along with another restaurant owner had received notices to open immediately or risk facing penalties.

“Restaurants and cafes were given a period of three months to open initially. The small ones that you see on the sea-side managed to do that because the spaces are really small.

The bigger restaurants however…it takes time to get the decor and everything set up. This is Doha. If people say they’re going to take a week to finish up a job, it’s likely that they’re going to take a month,” Bourguiba said.

Having spent some QR30,000 in back rent, and QR700,000 to renovate the existing space, Bourguiba decided to soft open on Thursday.

Dar Al Tunis

Chantelle D'mello

Dar Al Tunis

“We don’t even have staff yet. We’ve had to rent staff, and we’re still constructing, but we had to open. The souq had put pressure on us, and with the bills raking up, we needed some income in,” he said, adding that a neighboring restaurant had also faced a similar situation.

According to Bourguiba and other employees at several other cafes, the souq’s management has also banned establishments from serving shisha.

The move, which was attempted at Souq Waqif without success and has been partly implemented at Katara, has hurt business, the manager said.

“They used to allow us to serve shisha here; then on May 31, they (suddenly) changed the policy. If we had shisha here, this place would be full. But now it’s just food…people can get that anywhere…and outdoor seating, which is not what people want in the hot summers,” he said.

Coming attractions

When Doha News visited the Al Wakrah souq yesterday, hoardings and banners for a handful of new restaurants had been put up, but the sea-facing stores had yet to open.

According to Bourguiba, a gold souq, an abaya souq, and two boutique hotels are also slated to open in the future, though a timeline for these projects remains unknown.

The souq’s Corniche, a large 3km stretch of lit-up promenades with an open beach, is also set to open in the coming months. Several bulldozers could be seen yesterday, working well into the night to level some of the beachfront areas.

The souq is also scheduled to host a pearl museum, according to the Peninsula.

Have you visited the new souq yet? Thoughts?