Qatar Architecture Old & New
Editorial of 2A Magazine issue 24- Ahmad Zohadi
Qatar is privileged due to its central location in the Persian Gulf, and its rich Gas and oil reserves. Doha is the capital city and largest city of this country. Historically Doha was a fishing and pearl diving port town. Today, it is home for more than 85% of Qatar’s population of 1.75 million people, of which are consisted of 80 percent foreign professionals from various countries. Qatar has evolved tremendously in the past couple of decades in all dimensions, including its architecture and urban development. Until the mid 1960’s and before the independence of the country (September 3, 1971), the majority of buildings were individual traditional houses, but during the 1970’s Doha in particular, turned into a modern city with 20th century attributes. However, Doha’s growth and development process was slowed down in 1980’s and 1990’s , due to many factors, mainly the first Gulf war and its reliance on the resources and economies of neighboring countries and the domestic politics’ atmosphere. The current developmental trend in Doha and Qatar is characterized by rapid urbanization, which has transformed the outlook of Qatar and Doha in particular.
Despite this fast-track urbanization process, the Qatar authorities have been successful to preserve, respect and value their traditional architecture while incorporating the new and modern structures. And what is unique about Doha, is that its traditional “old town” which is its old Bazaar and is surrounding buildings and streets have been preserved exactly in their original location which was the center of the city, and the new part of town is built around it. Unlike other cities in the region, where the old town is separated from the new towns, for instance in Muscat, Oman.
The city has also tried to keep its traditional and cultural customs intact, for instance, they have policemen whom are riding their horses in the old part of town, which gives a great local feeling when you walk in those areas.
This way of thinking, of course has not prevented them from absorbing and using modern methods of construction and architecture. If we look at Qatar architectural community, we can find many world famous international architects are active in various architectural projects in Qatar. They are also active in educating their local architects, and helping them to share and grow with the international architectural associations by holding conferences and seminars. Consequently, it can be seen that Qatar has been successful in keeping its cultural and traditional identity, while incorporating new and modern architectural methods in their urban development.
as well-established international magazine continues to promote and re-introduce middle eastern architecture and art not only through the publication of magazines but also via various other activities , such as holding seminars, architectural competitions and workshops. 2A magazine chose the country of Qatar in this issue and will continue this trend of dedicating specific issues to different countries, because we believe it will help the architects, artists and all of our general correspondents to learn, use and utilize the information and provided knowledge in a more focused and organized manner.