After months of speculation, official closure notices, clearance sales, and a two-month deadline extension, the Souq Najada shopping complex has finally been shut down.
Shopkeepers at the complex, often referred to as the ‘mobile phone souq’, were first served with government notices on Feb 28, with one month to relocate before utilities were shut off.
But after cries from store owners that they would suffer huge losses trying to meet that deadline, the official cut-off date for power and water was extended to June 1.
As of today, most shops at the complex are abandoned and shuttered, with a few stragglers still clearing out inventory today. That hasn’t stopped shoppers from visiting, given it’s popular location for low-income workers in the city on a Friday.
We spoke to a half dozen shop keepers there, who said they had relocated to other complexes in the area, including Souq Waqif, Souq Asiri and Filipino market, and the Al Watan complex behind New World Center. A large number of the 300-some shops were also reportedly relocating to the Industrial Area, while still others were heading to Barwa Village.
At least one shopkeeper, who said he couldn’t afford to relocate, was there selling remaining inventory on clearance outside his old store. “Finish, no more store,” he said.
Another said he couldn’t find a new location at the same price he paid at Souq Najada - standard rents were around 10,000-11,00 QAR a month - but that his new place in Al Watan Center was a much larger space for 15,000 QAR, which he was satisfied with.
The government acquired the Souq Najada property a few month ago “in the public interest.” Adjacent to Souq Waqif and across from the new Msheireb downtown development, it’s a prime location. The shopping complex will almost certainly be demolished, but it remains unclear what will be built in its place.
Credit: Photos by Omar Chatriwala