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30 December 2019

Preserving Qatar's heritage sites within Education City

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Bu Rashid: The vivid memories of Al-Khater’s House still remain with me

There are homes that we merely inhabit and others that inhabit us. Houses that we always feel nostalgic for no matter how old, modern, small, or big they are or how luxuriously crafted. You could have a house made from stone and clay, but in your eyes, it would be the most beautiful, most spacious and welcoming place in the world.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the areas around Education City were nomadic camping sites, mostly freshwater wells and limited agricultural areas.”

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Mohammed bin Abdullah bin Fahd Al-Khater

The 80-year-old Mohammed bin Abdullah bin Fahd Al-Khater, also known as Bu Rashid, was grinning widely as he recalled his clay house in the old Al Rayyan area. The house is currently preserved at Qatar Foundation, among other buildings and heritage houses located within Education City.

“People at that time spent the winter in the rural landscapes, while in the summer they moved back to their houses in Doha. At the beginning of the 20th century, the areas around Education City were nomadic camping sites, mostly freshwater wells and limited agricultural areas,” Bu Rashid recalled that particular period in his life.

“By 1947, a large group of residential areas were formed in the southeast of Al Shaqab, and my grandfather, Fahd, was one of the first inhabitants of the area in 1923. As time passed, and with the expansion and reconstruction projects taking place, my father, Abdullah, built the house, which is now part of the heritage houses located in Education City."

Bu Rashid described the time he spent in that house as simple in everything, even in construction. "The houses were made from stone and clay. There was no electricity or water supply. We used to depend on the well that my grandfather built when he built his house. The well water was used for drinking and for irrigating crops, which he grew in the fertile soil around the house.

"Agriculture was dependent on growing palm trees. Dates were the main crops, along with other fruits and vegetables, which were used to prepare food in the kitchen, inside the house. At that time, the food was prepared and cooked on firewood, which was collected from the rural landscape."

In that period, according to Bu Rashid, maintaining social relations with neighbors was important. "The house included an external Majlis, and in front of the Majlis, we built a mosque which reflects that period’s heritage. There was a terrace, called ‘Deka’, which is a raised platform made from clay, used during heat waves. In the evening, we used to spend time on the terrace, to meet neighbors and guests.”

I am happy that my family's heritage house is located inside a huge organization like Qatar Foundation.

Jawaher Al-KhaterDaughter of Mohammed bin Abdullah bin Fahd Al-Khater

One of the daughters of Mohammed bin Abdullah bin Fahd Al-Khater, is Jawaher Al-Khater who works at Qatar Foundation. Al-Khater is proud to have her family’s house as part of the heritage houses at Education City.

"I am happy that my family's heritage house is located inside a huge organization like Qatar Foundation. Having been inhabited by our ancestors over the years, this region has evolved into an educational edifice that reflects Qatar's past and illuminates the future.”

Speaking about the design of old houses and traditional construction methods in the last century, Nur Alah Valdeolmillos, Senior Architect, Capital Projects, said: “Education City has a group of heritage sites and archaeological houses that we are working on documenting and preserving. In the past, the building materials used for Qatari houses were stone, gypsum and clay. Ceilings were build using horizontal beams made from imported mangrove columns and palm fronds.

“Qatar Foundation's flagship project management works to publicize this cultural heritage by presenting it at local and international conferences. These buildings are also used for teaching scientific subjects to Qatar’s university students.”

The house that belongs to Al-Khater family has evolved over the years to become an architectural masterpiece that stands as a witness to Qatar’s history. Modern scientific methods that are used to preserve these buildings, confirm Qatar Foundation’s interest in highlighting the cultural heritage for the public and future generations. These efforts are implemented to promote a sense of national identity and to highlight Qatar's big history that ran within a small geographical place.

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