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10 August 2008 07:49 am

Wakra; Fast on the rise

Khalifa Al Haroon
Khalifa Al Haroon
Your friendly neighborhood Qatari
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Business has never been so good for people in Al Wakra, with the area gaining strategic importance due to its proximity to Doha International Airport. The idyllic outpost, traditionally a residential area, has lately seen huge commercial buildings and offices come up. The retail rate for a 400-square-foot commercial plot in Al Wakra is in the range of QR3,000 to QR12,000. In Doha, one would have to pay around QR20,000 for the same. "There is not much of a difference in the residential rates, but there is a vast difference in the commercial rates in the Al Wakra area," said Anwar Johennesse, a real estate agent. There area has seen tremendous change, with spaces that used to be little more than sand and dust turning into commercial hubs. "Al Wakra used to be a small town with not many houses. It used to be a fisherman's colony. One would easily know if a new family moved into the place. But now things have changed, with Al Wakra developing not only on the residential but commercial front as well," said Benhur, a previous resident of Al Wakra. With Qatar's northern and southern parts becoming the country's industrial hubs, Al Wakra is flourishing into an ultra-modern and vibrant city with a lot of business potential. "Earlier, all that was seen in Wakra was a graveyard and a couple of houses. People tried to migrate to Doha, as it was easier to find food items and other commodities as there were not many shops earlier. But now people are moving back to the place as it has almost everything and it is more quiet compared to Doha. The traffic is minimal and one can never experience a traffic jam. It is comparatively easier travelling on the roads of Wakra," said Jyothi, a resident of the area. Having become a residential area of choice with fast food joints and supermarkets flourishing all over the place, it won't be long before Al Wakra will serve as a business centre for Qatar. Revised master plans for comprehensive development of Al Wakra and Al Khor were launched last May. The Urban Planning and Development Authority has plans to develop Al Wakra as a model city. The UPDA has plans to create a special zone for commercial complexes, exclusive zones for nationals, mixed residential areas for nationals and residents; and a special zone for single residents. The master plan has conceptualized special zones for educational institutions, public offices, commercial complexes and a marina. Al Wakra's new downtown regional centre will be divided into different segments. They include Wakra Gateway, Wakra South Square, Wakra Festival Bay, Wakra Sands, Wakra Residence, Wakra College and Wakra Trade Center. The Wakra Gateway will be an exclusive zone for major government and public offices. The South Square will be a mix of office complexes, residential apartments and middle and small retail outlets. The Festival Bay will be marked by resort hotels, business investment hotels and a maritime museum. The Pen