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The Pearl-Qatar

Residents of the Pearl-Qatar, rejoice. Developers have announced plans to possibly build a new access road to get on and off the island.

Currently, there’s only one road linking the Pearl to the rest of Doha, which can make it difficult to leave during peak traffic times.

Residents have previously expressed concerns about the safety and security implications of only having one exit point. Developer UDC had previously said they had no plans to change this.

Traffic on the Pearl-Qatar

Alfredo Marques

Traffic on the Pearl-Qatar

However, in a statement today, UDC now said a feasibility study is being conducted to look at “possible alternative routes.”

The impact on the surrounding environment will be considered and “modern traffic control solutions” that will regulate entry and exit from the island will also be part of the study.

“This study further reflects UDC’s awareness of the severity of the traffic jam situation, particularly during evenings and weekends. Accordingly the company hopes to complete the study soon,” it added.

The developer has not given a timeline for the project.

Congestion

The Pearl has been launching a number of restaurants and leisure options on the island to attract more visitors.

Additionally, more apartments and villas are also being completed and open for rent.

Traffic in and around the Pearl

Alfredo Marques/Twitter

Traffic in and around the Pearl

This development on the island, as well as Doha Metro and Lusail Expressway construction near its access point, have caused many backups in the area.

The existing artery route onto and through the island has four lanes in each direction.

However, with around 30,000 vehicles entering the island every day and more expected in the coming years, the organization acknowledged more roads are needed.

“Based on the new traffic data extracted by UDC through specialized traffic monitoring techniques, an updated study is now needed to ensure smooth traffic flow is restored, especially during rush hours,” UDC said.

The island is being built in stages and by 2018, is expected to have nearly 19,000 villas, apartments, chalets and townhouses. So far, only a fraction of these are occupied.

Plans are also underway for construction of a new kindergarten and school on the island. In June this year, UDC began accepting proposals from potential investors.

It will be located in a new residential development called Giardino Villas.

Thoughts?

All photos by Reem Saad

Raw tacos with cashew cream, bowls of kelp and kale and vegan cheesecake are among the offerings at a new healthy restaurant in Doha.

The country’s first vegan cafe Evergreen Organics opened last week at Qanat Quartier on the Pearl-Qatar.

So far, its waterside location has attracted hundreds of customers who are keen to check out its more unusual food items.

Cafe founders Jawaher Al Fardan and Ghanim Al Sulaiti

Evergreen Organics/Facebook

Cafe founders Jawaher Al Fardan and Ghanim Al Sulaiti

The aim behind the new Qatar cafe is to get people in the country thinking – and eating – in a more healthy way, its co-founder Ghanim Al Sulaiti said.

Al Sulaiti has been a vegan for more than three years and while he admits lacking experience in the hospitality industry (he is a tunnel engineer for Qatar Rail), he is passionate about healthy eating.

“Introducing vegan options is really important in this generation, because we’ve been seeing a lot of people facing a lot issues, like digestive problems,” he told Doha News, adding:

“We want to take people back to nature and reconnect them with earth-to-table concepts, where everything comes from earth directly to your plates, rather than going through the processes of the food you see in the market now which is scary.”

Food prep

The cafe’s food is prepared using only organic ingredients by two leading international vegetarian and vegan chefs.

Unlike most restaurants in Qatar, this cafe has no meat or dairy options, and doesn’t serve anything with refined sugar.

Instead, menu items include things like ginger edamame, veggie burgers and sandwiches.

Evergreen Organics

Reem Saad / Doha News

Evergreen Organics

For those with a sweet tooth, desserts include things like “the best raw chocolate torte.”

A key focus of the cafe is its extensive smoothie and cold-pressed juice menu. However, because they include organic fruit, veggies and herbs, the juices don’t come cheap at around QR50 a bottle.

There is also a “grab-and-go” fridge with juices and snacks for takeaway.

Grab and Go fridge

Evergreen Organics/Facebook

Grab and Go fridge

Recycled materials have been used as decoration, and plants feature highly inside, with a green wall at the end of a long, communal table.

There is also outdoor seating available for when the weather cools down.

In charge of the kitchen is executive chef Matt Downes, who headed up The Gothic in the US state of Maine – named one of the 10 best vegetarian restaurants in the US by Time Out New York last year.

Joining him is sous chef Maros Weiser, who was head chef at NAMA Artisan foods – a raw food restaurant in London’s upmarket Notting Hill.

Healthy living

Al Sulaiti said he initially thought of setting up a small outlet that just sold juices and healthy chips.

He and co-found Jawaher Al Fardan tested the waters earlier this year with a stall at the Qatar International Food Festival in MIA park.

But over the last 18 months, the idea grew grander.

“We’re trying to change the way people do business,” he said.

Since become vegan, Al Sulaiti said his health and sense of well-being improved, and he felt compelled to share this experience with others.

Evergreen Organics

Reem Saad / Doha News

Evergreen Organics

“It made me feel responsible to offer this to the people of Qatar – to create a platform, a space, where you can engage and share knowledge and really bring like-minded people in one place.”

When he initially became vegan, Al Sulaiti said he was did get criticism from some people who believed that refraining from eating meat was against the local culture.

But he challenged this notion, saying:

“I read a lot of books about our culture and how we survived 120 years ago. Meat definitely wasn’t the focal points in our diet. In the Sira Nabawiya (Prophetic biography) and the Quran, vegetables and fruits are mentioned significantly more than meat and dairy.”

He continued:

“Meat wasn’t that accessible 40 or 60 years ago in Doha – people had to really invest energy and money to get it. Today, meat is cheaper than an apple and I think that’s really the epidemic that we’re living in this generation, and that’s what I want people to be conscious about and be aware of,” he added.

Evergreen Organics is open Monday to Saturday, 5pm to 10pm. More information can be found online here.

The co-founders are also planning to open a yoga studio next to the cafe, but its opening date hasn’t been determined yet.

Thoughts?

Saturday's fire at the Pearl

Saturday’s fire at the Pearl

A “very limited” fire was quickly brought under control at a private island on Isola Dana at the Pearl-Qatar this afternoon, officials say.

Residents reported seeing thick plumes of black smoke across the water.

A source at UDC, which manages the Pearl-Qatar, said it took firefighters between 10 and 15 minutes to bring the fire under control. He said there were no injuries, but several storage sheds were damaged.

Saturday's fire at the Pearl

Saturday’s fire at the Pearl

The source said firefighters stationed on the Pearl were able to quickly reach the site, which is being developed by a private contractor and not UDC.

The cause of the fire is not known.

Isola Dana, named after one of the world’s most prized pearls, is a string of nine private islands accessed via a causeway from the central areas of the Pearl-Qatar, according to UDC’s website.

While government statistics don’t explicitly break down the number of fires on construction sites in Qatar, several large blazes have occurred on building sites in recent years.

That includes a structure at Place Vendome in Lusail last June as well as the old Civil Defence complex, which caught fire twice in a span of slightly less than three weeks last year as it was being converted to an arts hub.

Does anyone have more information about today’s fire? Thoughts?