An eerie, empty walk through Doha, Qatar

An eerie, empty walk through Doha, Qatar

During my stay, I followed a third grade field trip to the Msheireb Cultural Enrichment Center, a museum set up by a developer to promote their newest enterprise, Msheireb Downtown Doha. Msheireb is a plan to build an entire “sustainable” neighborhood from scratch, mixing upscale housing, luxury retail, schools, offices, and cultural centers. The project is tearing down the oldest part of the city, a run-down quarter, but still full of genuine street life. There are small businesses and working class men walking around, especially on Fridays. In Qatar there is a so-called “Family Day,” a practice that allows businesses and public parks to ban single men from entering on Fridays, oftentimes their only day off.

Furthermore, perhaps like in many American cities, it’s easy to spot class differences by just observing who is driving and who is walking. Salaries for white collar expat workers fluctuate around $120,000. A well paid live-in housemaid makes less than $7,000. Needless to say, the latter could not dream of accommodating a car into the budget.

For many fortunate enough to afford moving their families to Qatar and have a car, working class people serve as those who build, sell, care for children but live out of sight in the basements, backrooms, and labor camps, and roam the streets on foot.

June 16, 2017

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