Standing in the Heart of Doha

just another friday night, for the men who are building a new doha
It has all the appearance of a muster point. Why else would several hundred people gather in a condemned cul-de-sac in the heart of Doha, except to stage a march or demonstration? But no, this is just another Friday night. The same crowd gathers every weekend, and for no better reason than Eccles' excuse - everybody's got to be somewhere! They don't march. They don't protest. And at the end of the night they melt back into invisibility. These are just some of the men who are building the bright new Doha, not the Engineers and Architects, but no less vital in the grand scheme of things.
But why choose the demolition site as a hangout, especially when the Corniche is less than a kilometre away and the fashionable Souq Waqif a mere three hundred metres? Could it be that this is one of the few places from which they won't be 'moved along' by the police? The simple rule here is that rich people should not have to see poor people.
So they stand. Or sit. Or squat. They smoke. They pass around little sachets of gutra or manikchand. They chew. They spit red gobbets in the gutter. They talk. Then they go back to their 'bachelor quarters'. And next week they'll do it again. And weekly thereafter, until the Heart of Doha is finished.

"Dohaland celebrates 2nd anniversary with a host of achievements and milestones. Over 5 million man hours completed on company's signature project Musheireb".

Just sayin'...


  1. In my early days in Abu Dhabi I was amazed to see similar gatherings, around Electra Street, towards Tourist Club area, and yes it was a case of socialising, aided with cheaper chai and food than found in middle class spots!

    Always a rather odd feeling to be stared at as the odd man out :-)

  2. Yes. After working a six-day week, it's a shame that the only socialising available to these guys is standing in the streets. They can't afford to come to my vantage point where I took the photo (roof of Sofitel), and if they go to any of the decent areas, they just get herded back.
    (I'm used to the staring though; I worked for a time in Mumbai)

  3. Very informative for me, as I have never been to Doha, You seem to be able to handle the culture shock very well, I have a lot of trouble with my feelings in such an environment. I will come back to read more when time permits, I feel sure this will be an interesting blog spot for me to have a recreational read from time to time.

  4. Ernest - you'll be a welcome reader here, whenever you have time. My culture shock was gradual, as I spent 3 years in the relatively easy Dubai before coming to Doha, and I'd been in Mumbai before both. But this blog is tongue in cheek - the only way to survive out here!

  5. Norman W Taylor26 March 2011 at 01:50

    They came and quietly congregated and then the congregation quietly went home. At first I thought this was sad but I thought back to when I was a young man with no money and we used to do the same in our town. It is much better to be with friends and part of a community despite money.

  6. Hi Norman - that's true of course. But these guys are working six long days a week and are not all young. They should have more money than they do. Thanks for the visit!


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