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New extension

Ashghal

New extension

Trips to Al Wakrah are going to become more fraught in the coming months once Ashghal closes the main road to the town this weekend.

Instead, commuters can use newly opened six-lane road called the Najma Extension, which isaimed at making it easier to drive between Doha and Al Wakrah.

The new 2.4km roadway also connects with Barwa Village. It starts at the old foot of Najma St. at F-Ring Road, and runs south over the new East Corridor via a 117m bridge.

Najma Extension

Ashghal

Najma Extension

It then hooks east to meet Al Wakrah Road, south of G-Ring Road. In a statement, Ashghal said:

“Road users can now travel to and from central Doha and Al Wakra without the need to access Al Matar Street or Ras Abu Aboud Road, in addition to benefiting from reduced congestion and shorter transit times in the south of Doha.”

The Najma Extension has a speed limit of 80 km/h.

Ashghal called the project a “significant milestone” toward improving the roads and other infrastructure south of Doha.

Najma bridge

Ashghal

Najma bridge

In recent years, government planners have been encouraging more residents to move to communities outside the capital by expanding hospitals, building schools and opening new recreational facilities in areas such as Al Wakrah and Al Khor.

New roads, such as the Najma Extension, should also make it easier for residents living on the outskirts to commute into Doha for work.

Roadwork

Meanwhile, the transportation network in the area around Barwa Village continues to undergo significant upgrades.

However, constructing those new roads often involves short-term pain for motorists.

Starting overnight on this Friday-Saturday (June 24-25), a key stretch of Al Wakrah will be closed. In a statement today, Ashghal did not say when it would reopen.

Al Wakrah Road closure.

Ashghal

Al Wakrah Road closure.

There are two main alternate routes available to motorists.

Those travelling to or from either Hamad International Airport or the Corniche can use Ras Abu Aboud Road.

Meanwhile, the new Najma Extension can be used to access central Doha.

Ashghal says it needs to close the road to facilitate construction of its East Corridor project – a new 10-lane, 22km highway from Al Matar St., south of the Air Force Roundabout, to west of Barwa City.

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في إطار التقدم المستمر في مشروع مترو الدوحة، تم إطلاق الرافعة الجسرية في مشروع الخط الأحمر (فوق الارض)، وستعمل حتى مايو 2016 قبل أن يتم تفكيكها. وسيمتد العمل بها من الشمال إلى الجنوب على طول طريق الوكرة السريع بالتزامن مع عملية تركيب الجسور. As part of our most recent updates at the Doha Metro project, a gantry has been launched off the ground at the Red Line’s elevated section and will operate until May 2016 before being dismantled. It will be running north to south along the Al Wakra Highway as we progress through the installation of the viaducts. #dohametro #qatarrail

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And Qatar Rail contractors are constructing the southern portion of the Doha Metro Red Line, which features several kilometers of elevated tracks leading to the end of the line in Al Wakrah.

Thoughts?

Souq Haraj

Penny Yi Wang

Souq Haraj

Government officials have announced plans to construct a new Souq Haraj, home of one of Qatar’s largest second-hand markets, next to Barwa Village.

Currently, the souq sells a wide range of used household goods such as furniture, appliances, carpets and electronics, among others items.

Its low prices make it popular with bargain hunters as well as many low and middle-income earners in Qatar, where the cost of living is climbing faster than salaries for many individuals.

The current Souq Haraj is located in Najma. Plans surfaced in mid-2013 to demolish the market and make way for a pair of hotels and a modern commercial center.

A “pre-concept design” for the new City Center Haraj showed plans for a 78,000 square meter mall, two four-star hotels that include serviced apartments and 3,200 parking spots.

Souq Haraj

Penny Yi Wang

Souq Haraj

The project – which is being developed by Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani’s company, Al Faisal Holdings – “aims to gentrify the whole Al Matar neighborhood into becoming a fine residential area of Doha,” according to the brief prepared by architectural firm Promontorio.

The plan, according to the document, was to open City Center Haraj this year. However, a spokesperson for the developer told Doha News that there is no new timeline for the project.

However, Qatar’s Ministry of Economy and Commerce appears to be moving forward with plans to construct a new Souq Haraj.

Starting tomorrow, developers can pick up tender documents and begin preparing bids to construct a new 35,000-square-meter souq that includes shops, restaurants and cafes.

A diagram of the new Souq Haraj shows it will contain shops, cafes and restaurants.

MEC

A diagram of the new Souq Haraj shows it will contain shops, cafes and restaurants.

While no location is explicitly mentioned, a map attached to an announcement published this week shows that the property is located on the west side of Barwa Village, which is off Al Wakrah Road, roughly 2km south of F-Ring Road.

The ministry called the new location “a strategic area to facilitate the demands of citizens and residents through providing a complete market with the necessary infrastructure.”

Economic zones

The new Souq Haraj project is being managed in part by Manateq, an “autonomous government company” set to spend billions of riyals developing and operating special economic zones in Qatar in the coming years.

The first is a warehousing and logistics hub named Ras Bufontas, which would be located on slightly more than four square kilometers of land south of the new Hamad International Airport, on the east side of Al Wakrah Road:

It’s unclear how the Souq Haraj project – which appears to be just outside Ras Bufontas – fits in with Manateq’s economic zones. The Manateq official overseeing the souq initiative could not be reached for comment today.

Qatar Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa officially launched the Ras Bufontas economic zone project in November. Along with touting its proximity to the airport, officials said companies will benefit from “a one-stop-shop for various essential services to start their operations.”

While last November’s announcement did not contain details on how Ras Bufontas would operate, companies inside special economic zones typically receive favorable financial treatment through breaks on corporate taxes and import duties compared to businesses located elsewhere in the country.

Governments typically set up special economic zones to attract foreign investment, create jobs and boost trade.

Locally, there is a “free zone” within the Qatar Science and Technology Park where licensed companies can be 100 percent foreign owned, hire expatriate employees and do not pay corporate taxes.

Manateq says the first of three phases in Ras Bufontas would be completed by March 2017.

Thoughts?

Barwa Village has signed a deal with Karwa to create a taxi stand for people coming and going to the low-incoming family housing development located in Wakra, which opened in 2010.

The Village features a large commercial district, but has struggled to draw shoppers, and businesses have complained high rents have forced them to shut down.

In addition to other recent changes, such as easier access to the complex by a new road intersection and the opening of a Centerpoint Mall at the complex, Barwa hopes the new taxi queue and a reworked Mowasalat bus schedule will draw in more foot traffic. 

Barwa Village will also kick off a new shopping festival on Thursday, featuring giveaways, discounts, and family activities like face painting, clowns performances and magic shows. (Check Facebook & Twitter for more details).

Meanwhile, the general manager of Barwa Village says they are open to ideas on how to improve their offerings.

What do you think? Have you ever been to Barwa Village? Would the festival and improved transportation make you more likely to visit?

Credit: Photo of Barwa Village courtesy of Waseef