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Posted On: 22 June 2013 01:32 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:13 pm


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For 23 years, Souq Haraj has been the shopping destination for those who wish to buy home appliances and accessories at cheap prices as it is the only market in the country that sells second-hand goods. But recent news reports say the market might soon face the bulldozers to make way for a huge and posh commercial avenue and twin hotels, giving nightmares to tenants of the 400-odd shops in the souq, particularly newcomers who have invested millions in their businesses. Some citizens, however, argue that it is high time the souq was demolished and relocated. Jassim Al Malki, vice chairman of the Central Municipal Council, said he supported the demolition because Souq Haraj lacked enough facilities and did not conform to safety standards. Second-hand goods sold at the market cost nearly the same as new ones sold in malls and other souqs, so customers do not really get a discount, he added. Souq Haraj, Al Malki said, was not located in the right place as it was surrounded by buildings, and it should have been built in an open area where shoppers could move freely. The demolition won’t hurt Qatari businessmen as more than 80 percent of the traders in the souq are expatriates, he added. “I hope the market is relocated outside Doha and service shops such as car repair shops are built there instead,” he said. Prominent Qatari businessman Ahmed Al Khalaf is of the same view, saying that demolishing Souq Haraj is the right step because “the place lacks safety standards and parking space and the streets are very narrow; they cause traffic problems as many people frequent the market.” He also feels that the souq is in the wrong place and distorts the cityscape, being situated downtown. “This market should be transferred to another place outside Doha, like in Al Wakra or Al Wukair. It should be established over a bigger area to accommodate all the shops,” he said, adding the new location should be identified before the demolition to allow the traders to move. With land prices in the area where Souq Haraj is located rising, it is not viable to keep the market there, according to Al Khalaf. Instead it would be practical to put up businesses which would be more profitable, such as hotels or malls, he said. The proposed demolition, however, would affect not just the businessmen but thousands more who earn their livelihood from Souq Haraj, including carpenters, plumbers and drivers, others point out.