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Maison Du Sushi

Reem Saad / Doha News

Maison Du Sushi

With food wastage becoming a serious problem in Qatar, some local restaurants have devised a creative way to get people to clean their plates – charging them for leftovers.

That’s the policy at the newly opened Maison De Sushi, a Japanese-Thai place at 01 Mall in Abu Hamour.

The restaurant operates an all-day buffet menu, allowing customers to order unlimited amounts of food to their tables for set prices (QR80 or QR130/person).

Maison Du Sushi

Reem Saad / Doha News

Maison Du Sushi

Once diners are done eating, they’re charged QR5/per piece of food left on their plates.

However, the restaurant is not a stickler about this rule, one manager told Doha News.

“We don’t always charge people because that’s not the point of adding the rule. We don’t want to penalize people. It’s more about encouraging our guests to take extra care and not waste food,” Nael Salaheddin said.

Sometimes, the restaurant will even wrap up leftovers to be taken home.

Maison De Sushi is not the first restaurant in Doha to impose a fee for wasting food.

Yee Hwa sushi

Yee Hwa/Facebook

Yee Hwa sushi

Yee Hwa, a Korean/Japanese restaurant in Al Sadd, has long charged customers QR5 for each piece of food left behind during its all-you-can-eat sushi nights.

But the restaurant also is lax about the policy depending on how much food is left behind, a staffer told Doha News.

Mixed reactions

According to Salaheddin, some customers have found their fee amusing, while others have reacted with frustration and refuse to pay it.

But the overwhelming majority of diners have lauded the rule, he added:

“We see them coming back and always telling us that we’re doing something great. Qataris have said ‘God bless you’ and shown a lot of appreciation.”

And most don’t leave much food on their plates.

“I’m not sure if this is because our food is too good, since I’ve literally seen people licking the leftover sauce, or if it’s because they really appreciate the rule,” Salaheddin said.

Food wastage in Qatar

Qatar has one of the highest per capita food wastes in the world – up to 1.8kg per day.

And discarded food accounts for more than half of Qatar’s municipal garbage.

Local researchers have called this practice “shocking” and “unsustainable,” given that Qatar is a desert nation that imports 90 percent of what it eats.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

US Department of Agriculture/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Academics from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar (GU-Q) are now leading a three-year study to investigate how much food is being thrown away here and why.

Meanwhile, efforts are also underway to educate people on what it means to shop smartly and waste less.

Would an extra charge stop you from wasting food?


For illustrative purposes only.

New Port Project / Facebook

For illustrative purposes only.

Though construction picked up across Qatar in 2014, contractors across the country dramatically cut down on the amount of waste sent to landfills, recently released government figures show.

More than 9.35 million metric tons of construction waste was sent to landfills in Rawdat Rashid and Mesaieed in 2013, the Ministry of Planning Development and Statistics (MDPS) said in a wide-ranging environmental report released last week.

That dropped nearly one-quarter to 7.06 million tons in 2014, the most recent year for which figures are available.

However, domestic waste continued to grow, the report said.

The amount of construction waste generated in Qatar fell 25 percent in 2014.

Peter Kovessy / Doha News

The amount of construction waste generated in Qatar fell 25 percent in 2014.

Construction waste – which consists of excavated material and rubble, as well as scraps of insulation, wiring and metal used in building – made up 71 percent of all trash sent to landfills in 2014, down from 77 percent the previous year.

The report didn’t offer any explanation for the decline. However, it comes after years of proposals and various projects aimed at reducing the amount of waste generated by construction.

A major part of those efforts include recycling.

In 2012, the Ministry of Environment said it was finalizing standards for re-using construction waste in other projects.

The stretch of road made from recycled materials.


The stretch of road made from recycled materials.

Two years later, the ministry and Ashghal worked together to construct a 1-kilometer stretch of road using 210,000 tons of recycled stones from a construction site.

Proponents of this and similar projects say they hope it’s just the beginning:

“Despite the large quantities of construction waste generated, the use of recycled aggregate is still very limited,” Khaled Hassan, the country director of the Transport Research Laboratory at the Qatar Science Technology Park told Qatar Construction News earlier this year.

“There is great potential to convert construction waste from a landfill material … into quality aggregate.”

Meanwhile, Qatar Rail plans to reuse much of the dirt excavated from Doha Metro tunneling as embankments for the long-distance rail line.

However, with work on the GCC-wide network stalled, large mounds of rock and sand are still piled up at Qatar Rail’s Al Messila logistics center off Jassim bin Hamad Street, near Al Rayyan Road.

Domestic waste increasing

While less construction waste was sent to landfills in 2014, the amount of garbage produced by residents continued to increase.

Photo for illustrative purposes only

Lesley Walker

Photo for illustrative purposes only

It climbed by more than 12 percent in 2014, increasing to 1.05 million tons from 930,663 tons and outpacing the growth in population that year.

Last year, a government official said a national recycling program – which would make it mandatory for households and government organizations to separate their trash – was in the works.

More recently, the minister of municipality and environment told the Central Municipal Council that his department was rolling out more recycling bins across the country.


Photo for illustrative purposes only.

US Department of Agriculture/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Discarded food accounts for more than half of Qatar’s municipal garbage, a fact that researchers have called “unsustainable.”

Hoping to reduce that figure, Doha-based academics are seeking volunteers to keep track of their trash for a week, as part of a larger study on food waste in the country.

In addition to looking at the issue from a household level, academics from Georgetown University – School of Foreign Service in Qatar (GU-Q) are leading a three-year study that will investigate the extent of waste on the supply side.

Using a grant from Qatar Foundation‘s Qatar National Research Fund, the international team aims to find out how much food is being thrown away here and why.

The Safeguarding Food and Environment Qatar (SAFE-Q) project is a collaboration between GU-Q, Cranfield University and Brunel University in the UK and the University of Western Sydney in Australia.

Photo for illustrative purposes only

Lesley Walker

Photo for illustrative purposes only

Researchers have already begun investigating what is going on at the supply end, and are now asking Qatar residents to volunteer to take part in several anonymous, online surveys over the course of a week, in which they will be asked to record what happens to food in their house.

The surveys take about 10 minutes to fill out and can be completed in Arabic or English, GU-Q said in a statement.

Residents interested in volunteering can register through the project’s blog site here, which also gives regular updates on the progress of the investigation.

Dr. Zeynep Topaloglu, assistant professor at GU-Q, is co-lead principal investigator of the research project.

In a statement, she described Qatar’s current significant food waste as “unsustainable and shocking:”

“In a world where one in nine people are hungry, where political unrest and natural disasters are impacting global food security, these statistics are unsustainable and shocking, requiring us to start taking action to understand why it’s happening and to find ways to prevent and reduce food waste.”

Project aims

At an individual level, Topaloglu said she hopes that residents who take part in the study will be more aware of the amount of food they buy and what they actually need, and thus encouraged to take steps to waste less.

Dr. Zeynep Topaloglu

Georgetown SFS in Qatar

Dr. Zeynep Topaloglu

The researchers also hope that the survey results will help influence national policy on the issue.

“In the bigger picture, they (the volunteers) are helping to raise national awareness about food waste, and through their survey responses used in this research, they will eventually help to reduce Qatar’s food waste,” Topaloglu added.

Data and findings from the research will also be shared with the United Nations Environment Program, which is currently conducting a drive to cut food waste in Saudi Arabia.

The UN agency has asked the SAFE-Q team to collaborate on a regional campaign to reduce the amount of wasted food, GU-Q said.

In addition to environmental factors, cutting Qatar’s food waste also influences its food security and sustainability concerns. These are important issues for a desert country that imports around 90 percent of its food.

Awareness about the need to shop smarter and waste less is slowly starting to take off in Qatar, although much still needs to be done.

Food waste at GU-Q


Food waste at GU-Q

More than 150 million tons of food waste is generated each year in the Middle East, but it’s the Gulf countries that significantly contribute to this figure.

Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait have all been listed in the top 10 countries in a global index in terms of per capita solid food waste.

Qatar alone has one of the highest per capita food wastes in the world – up to 1.8kg per day.

And, with the way that things are going, Qatar’s wastage is expected to see an annual growth rate of 4.2 percent by 2032, according to Qatar Development Bank.

Grassroots campaigns

Some local organizations have set up their own initiatives to tackle the issue. Last year, the Intercontinental Doha – The City hotel launched its first “No Bin Day” at its staff canteen.

Using the slogan “Take all you can eat, eat all you take,” the campaign aimed to cut food waste in the cafeteria in half, from the usual 10kg to 5kg per meal.

Instead of the usual five bags of food waste after each meal, on the day only two bags were filled.

Distribution of food

Sheikh Eid Charity Association Facebook

Distribution of food

Some charities, such as the Sheikh Eid Charity Association, also have schemes to collect leftover food from homes, hotels and restaurants, following special occasions like weddings or banquets, where large quantities of food are usually thrown away. The food is then distributed to the needy.

Earlier this year, the charity said it had seen an uptick in interest for its service, and it typically makes 50 trips a day to collect food.

Its staff then distributes around 25,000 meals a month to workers and families in need around Qatar, using 11 mini-vans.

How much food do you waste each week? Thoughts?