Museum Staff : “Hello, how many part of museums which you have visited, Sir?”
Me : “Just two….Company House and Bin Jelmood House, Ms”.
Museum Staff : “Oh, you’re on the right step. Now you are in Mohammed Bin Jassim House. It will tell you about old Msheireb and the modern one”.
Me: “Sounds pretty good”.
Museum Staff : “Is that your own camera? Are you professional? “
Me: “Yes, my camera. I’m a travel blogger. Is it okay to bring inside?”
Museum Staff : “Oh sure. Enjoy your visitation, Sir”.
This gallery was dedicated to Msheireb natives. Collections depicted everyday life in Msheireb that can be remembered by Qatari youth as well as foreign workers working in the oil-rich country.
In the early days of Qatari civilization, people used desert to raise livestock, but over time they created a special area for housing. History began when residents from Al-Jassra established a settlement in Msheireb. The construction of their houses initially used stone and clay before introducing gypsum and bricks.
“Religious Events and Celebrations” Session
In the early days of Msheireb, residents often celebrated religious holidays, such as Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr. Festivals were held to celebrate it, restaurants would be open until well past midnight and houses would open their doors.
Residents used drums to wake people up for sahur in the morning and used them to sing religious music at night. Then, Eid was determined by the crescent moon seen in Saudi Arabia. At that time Saudi Arabia did not have radio and television broadcasts. News would be obtained by Qatari citizens from Bahrain.
During Eid, residents will dance Tanbora, Laywa, Fajery, and Haban. There were so many traditional dances at that time.
Doha’s first electric generator was installed at the Company House in the late 1930s. Then in the mid-1950s, a power station was built in the city and underground power lines began to be laid. The path which was through by underground cable line was then given the name Al-Kahraba Street (“Al-Kahraba” itself means “electricity”).
Then Al-Kahraba Street was bustling with shops selling electric tools.
It was said that Doha citizens neatly sat in their chairs when their Emir Sheikh Salman cut a pipe to inaugurate their first power plant.
Al-Kahraba Street was Qatar lifeblood. Throughout the day and night during Ramadan month, the street was fully light. And Al-Rayyan people came here just to see the street.
It was narrated by a resident named Hassan Rasheed that the first television he bought came from Al-Kahraba street with the brand “Andrea”, it was shaped like a small cupboard, the cupboard had to be opened first to see the screen.
“Shopping and Eating” Session
Between 1950-1990, the Msheireb District flourished and was teeming with commercial buildings. Many new and first-time businesses appeared there such as the first hotel, the first bank, the first pharmacy, the first coffee shop and the first cold drink place. Residents could buy supplies and equipment, television, saris and shoes here. Tailors, barbershops, opticians, butchers, doctors, dentists, chicken shops and cafes greatly contributed to enliven Msheireb.
A resident said that the streets of Msheireb were very lively, there was the Al-Nasr Fountain, a pharmacy owned by Hussain Al-Kazim, Lebanese shops and restaurants, the Al-Tilmeethe library and bookstore owned by Abdullah Naima. At the corner of street there was a tailor who specializes in suits. The first bank in Doha was The Ottoman Bank and the main landmark at that time was The Bismillah Hotel.
Resident Abdullatif Al-Nadaf said: “If you need something that isn’t in Doha then you will find it on Al-Kahraba Street”.
“Schools, Healthcare and Security” Session
To ensure Qatari children could contribute to the development of Qatar’s oil industry and the nation’s economic growth, in September 1947 the first modern school named Al Islah Al Mohamadia was established. The Bin Jelmood House was used as a Qatar police station in the 1950s. The legendary hospital in Qatar was Rumaillah Hospotal which had been in operation since 1956, opened with 200 beds with ambulance services and outpatient facilities.
“Msheireb Downtown Doha” Session
Next, a session on Msheireb Downtown Doha (MDD) was described as a Sustainable City Regeneration Project in the Msheireb Region.
Under the leadership of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Msheireb Properties which was a subsidiary of Qatar Foundation was building urban districts where Qatari citizens and expatriates would live, work and socialize.
In this MDD session we would learn how patrons, planners, architects and engineers carefully reinterpreted Msheireb’s original architecture, sustainable construction with community traditions, commercialization and innovation to create a modern area but still firmly rooted in history and created a sense of place.
Old Msheireb was very popular with business activities. Shops and restaurants were built along the main road. Making this district a popular place to live and for anyone to visited. Since the first shops opened in the early 1950s, Doha had played an important role, not only for Qatar’s economic growth but even for the global economy. Doha was currently a promising business destination and tourist destination for travelers around the world. And Msheireb Downtown Doha would play an important role in maintaining the city’s commercial prominence.
At the southern end of Al-Kahraba Street had become a new business district with offices, banks, restaurants and cafes. And within this business district, Doha Metro would take passengers to West Bay and Hamad International Airport.
It was estimated that when the Msheireb Downtown Doha development project was completed, more than 2,000 residents would occupy an area of 31 hectares. Residents would mingle with thousands of workers, commercial consumers and tourists.
Although the scale of MDD was very broad, it would evoke the intimacy of Old Msheireb. The pedestrian path would be drectly connected to Souq Waqif. The entire MDD would be connected to a network of underground roads and underground parking which would make the street area very friendly-pedestrian.
MDD’s tradition of innovation also provided solutions to Old Msheireb’s three challenges, namely traffic congestion, waste management and water conservation. MDD would have 12,000 underground parking slots which would clear congestion and create a pedestrian-friendly environment. The state-of-the-art waste disposal system would recycle waste from the source and would be disposed of via underground pipes. Around six million liters of recycled water would be used daily to flush toilets, irrigate crops, and would cool buildings in MDD.
The same innovation would produce hot water and electricity through thousands of solar cells installed on each building’s roof.
There were seven steps that make buildings at MDD unique:
1. The continuity of the past, present and future through timeless urban design motifs.
2. Harmony and diversity through architectural language which was accepted by all.
3. Informal setting of buildings reflecting the original view of Msheireb
4. A living environment which provided privacy, security, indoor and outdoor areas, a family spirit and community care.
5. Creating a vibrant street life that could make pedestrians comfortable and provided shaded spaces.
6. Maximum comfort with minimum energy consumption through traditional and modern technology by utilizing energy and conserving natural resources.
7. The sustainability of Qatari design through a new architectural language that connected with past designs.
The design and layout of old Msheireb buildings respected the environment by minimizing the effects of the sun, maximizing ventilation and using local materials. These traditional practices were still being implemented in the development of MDD. The design and layout of MDD were made by utilizing the sun’s shade and the coastal breeze. Construction materials were taken from local sources. Renewable energy utilized solar panels on the roof of the building. Clean water would be saved by efficient use of every faucet and shower. The recycled water would be used for irrigation and other purposes.
MDD would reduce people’s dependence on vehicles. For example, this district would be friendly to pedestrians, it would be easy, safe and comfortable when walking from one place to another in the shade of trees and interspersed with parks. The district would provide routes for cyclists and buses. Doha Metro would connect Msheireb with other regions. Centralized waste recycling would eliminate the need for garbage trucks entering the city.