- Special Pages
BY FAZEENA SALEEM
DOHA: Souq Khalid located near what once was Crazy Roundabout is being vacated and might soon be razed to make way for the upcoming integrated railway project.
The complex, a ground-plus-one structure, is more than 20 years old and has more than 60 shops and offices.
They have been served eviction notices by the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning. But most of the occupants, hugely shocked since they must look for alternative commercial space which is hard to find at an affordable rent, say they will wait until electricity and water supplies are disconnected.
January 11 was the deadline given by the civic ministry for eviction but so far only a few occupants have left the complex. There are others who say they will be leaving soon. But then there are others who say they will wait until utility supplies are disconnected.
Not only this souq, but buildings behind it and clusters of other buildings in localities like Najma, Old Airport and Al Sadd, among others, are earmarked for demolition for the ambitious rail project.
A few buildings in Najma have, in fact, been partially demolished and some others have been vacated and are awaiting the civic bulldozers.
Souq Khalid, aside from having two famous restaurants and a pharmacy above which several medical practitioners have their clinics, has shops and offices of travel agencies and construction companies, among others.
“The money we recently spent on interiors will go waste,” rued a shopkeeper. Other occupants, too, have similar tales to tell.
“We have not found any alternative place yet, so will be here until the electricity is disconnected. Rents are very high outside. Here, we paid only QR12,000,” said another shopkeeper.
“Outside, the minimum rent would be QR20,000 and we have to pay a deposit of QR100,000,” he added, saying that he had been there for over five years.
There are other shops and offices that simply pay QR9,000 monthly rent and they seem to be more worried as they say finding an alternative and suitable space is hard and even if they do, they must pay double the rent they used to pay.
“We will be moving to a new place soon. Rent is definitely higher than what it is here, but we have no other option,” said the manager of a restaurant at Souq Khalid, who did not want to disclose the rent being paid.
The tenants of the souq have submitted collective estimates of the cost of shifting and expenses they have incurred on changing the interiors of their shops and offices to the Municipal Ministry.
“Representatives from the ministry came here and inspected the place. We have given them an estimate and hope that monetary compensation will be paid soon,” said the manager of an office at the souq.