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Doha's Finest Building?

top left, sofitel; bottom right, the hidden gem
Tucked away in Doha's central slum quarter is my favourite building in Qatar. To get there, from Grand Mercure né Sofitel (that's it top left with the blue swimming pool) you can either walk down to Boat Roundabout and take a right, or, you can take a right stepping out of Sofitel then left at Broken Corner, just before the B Ring. Either way, you're aiming for a very small building near the bottom right corner of the Google Earth view. Alternatively, you can plunge straight into the maze of slums and try to negotiate a South-Easterly zig-zag through it. This can be quite an adventure with no guarantee of success.
the gem, from above
You'll end up somewhere but not necessarily anywhere near the goal which is this strange double-D shaped building, hidden from almost everywhere by newer. higher and uglier neighbours. You'll also breathe in a lot of sewer gas and fibrous dust from the many upholstery workshops that somehow eke out a living here, against all the odds. All in all, the most reliable route is via Boat Roundabout. Look up every side street and alleyway on your right, until you see this:
The building shows little sign of occupancy and is probably deserted. It is either two modest villas or one large one, accessed by a central stair. It seems to be on two levels with highly ornate wrap-around balconies at both ends and on both levels. It is no longer possible to walk around it because of the press of later buildings on three sides. In time, probably within a year, the whole area will be fenced off and razed to the ground, like the rest of Musheireb and National.
But in its day, it must have been the finest building in central Doha. Quite simply, there is nothing else remotely like it. Maybe someone knows its history. Maybe someone still cares. At one time, it would have stood alone, home to a successful merchant family perhaps, or a minor Royal, resplendent in its basket-weave plasterwork and bas-relief crests. On borrowed time now, these few photographs may prove its only memorial. Shame.

2 comments:

  1. Astonishing building! I deliberately rode past the other day and twisted my head sideways instead of straight ahead so that I could get a better look.

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  2. Yes, shame it's so completely obscured. Thanks for giving it a thorough glance ;)

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