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Our Story

In recent years, Qatar Museums took upon the mission to revive Doha’s heritage districts, among which is Al Najadah. Placed at the heart of Doha, the history of this cluster of houses which used to belong to modest Qatari families dates back to the 1930s.

Houses sitting side by side, with tight corridors that create wind tunnels. Rooftops that served as a bed for residents to sleep under the stars on warm nights. Entrance halls designed to guard the family’s privacy when new guests entered. The culture of the past is represented by each design decision in this idyllic neighborhood, which is now being prepared to host a creative community for the future.

History and Significance

Fereej Al Najada is one of the old heritage neighborhoods in Doha that dates back to the beginning of the last century. As a district, it has several features and characteristics, the most significant of which is that it has retained its urban structure, and today it is considered one of the last remaining patches of heritage buildings within the city of Doha, which still maintains its unity as an integrated mass and a unified connected fabric in what is traditionally known as “Al Freej”.

Despite the rapid development and fast-paced change of the area, the sector still preserves a large part of its fabric, while the areas adjacent to the site have undergone multiple changes over the years, including a change in use, and modification of road lanes. The fact that Al Najadah has remained unchanged identified the need for further study and assessment.

Undoubtedly, the city of Doha contains a number of traditional heritage buildings and palaces that are older than Al Najadah, however they are scattered and spread out across the modern urban plan of Doha. What distinguishes Al Najadah is its continuation as a cluster without sub-divisions and without any major loss of the interconnected fabric, which gave it the opportunity to continue and not disappear within the rapid urban development in the city of Doha at the end of the last century and at the beginning of this century. If we move away a little from the city of Doha, the urban structure of Al Najadah can be seen in the villages located in the north of Qatar, which usually contain a single mosque and a common Majlis. Although the residents of the villages lived in separate houses, the village was seen as a “one large residence” where all the residents of the village are living ‘together” interconnected and interdependent, which was essential to survival. If we look at Al Najadah from that perspective, we see a kind of this formation as if it were a village within a city!! The area and its residents relied heavily on each other and on the Majlis, which contributed to the stability of the area despite the rather small size compared to nearby areas of Al Asmakh, Mushaireb, Al Ghanem and others.

The Site

Al Najadah in its current form contains 17 buildings one of which is a Majlis plus multiple external plazas. The buildings are characterized by their Qatari vernacular architecture, and each house consists of a central courtyard, while the rooms are distributed around the courtyard to give a feel of privacy as is customary in the traditional Qatari architecture. They also include “liwans”, which are covered walkways in spaces in front of the rooms. Of course, the buildings themselves were built with traditional materials of stones and seashell laced hollow blocks, in addition to the denchal beams, which were imported from India and the eastern coasts of Africa and other locations. Although most of the houses in Al Najadah date back to the 1960s, the district itself dates back to around 1930s, but the residents of the houses often introduced gradual changes to their homes by building additional living rooms or updating the house using more modern materials.

In addition to the traditional houses, Al Najadah is a host to a historic Majlis known as the Majlis of Barahat Al-Jufairi, which was built around 1940, and until recently was a popular place for the residents of Al Najadah and Al Jasra would gather for socializing and discussing common social issues. Those who frequented the Majlis have brought a lot of life to the area through their social interactions. We are now in the process of constructing all the external spaces during the coming period. The design was developed to contribute to the creation of interactive spaces linking the interior to the exterior, event spaces, an open amphitheater, mobile sales platforms, and others.

As site, Al Najadah sits in the middle of an area that contains many markets and sales centers such as Souq Waqif, Al Najada Market, Al Asmakh Market, and recently the shopping points in the Msheireb area, and others. Many flock to these markets to buy either traditional goods or international products. Despite the richness of the offer, there is a common factor between them, which is that they focus on displaying products manufactured “abroad” without local development. This gap of sort identified the need and paved the way to the revival of Al Najadah.

Conservation and Restoration Process

Knowledge on the principles of restoration of Qatari heritage is a science which is gradually getting lost or watered down as urbanization and globalization progresses. Through the Al Najadah project and in cooperation with the Public Works Authority, Qatar Museums restored all 17 buildings using the original material and using the old traditional methods through which we discovered underlying reasons for some of the processes that are being carried out in architectural conservation. The process of conservation and restoration has been documented as well. There is a specific and systematic documentation of the method statement, so now all the maps, executive plans, electrical and architectural plans, and an inventory of materials and tools used in the implementation, and captured concurrently, which guarantees the possibility of restoring Al Najadah again if needed, and the possibility of replicating the methodology on a larger scale in all buildings belonging to the same time period.

There is another thing that we are implementing in Qatar Museums as a new initiative in the intervention process. Qatar Museums has been restoring and preserving heritage and archaeological buildings and sites in the State of Qatar for several years. The bulk of the intervention carried out by Qatar Museums was a “rescue” intervention aimed at preserving the heritage landmark without introducing any new uses. This extends the life of the heritage elements but does not renew the narrative associated with the site. Repeating and retelling history preserves the previous narrative, which of course highlights the importance of the heritage elements for a period of time, after which the buildings begin to lose parts of its story, and when we lose a large enough part of the story, the elements begin to lose part of their societal value. Through adaptive reuse and repurposing the spaces, Qatar Museums is giving those sites a new story to tell its visitors, ensuring that they will resonate last for periods of time. Therefore, reactivating these buildings is at the core of preserving them as heritage landmarks for the Qatari community. We have witnessed similar examples, such as Fire Station, the headquarters of the artists in residence program. Fire Station might not have survived had it not been repurposed for its new use.


After the completion of all restoration work, Al Najadah will be a fully pedestrianized district with direct contact between the buildings and outdoor spaces. Upon the selection of our partners in this area, Al Najadah will provide an environment for synergy between artisans, contemporary designers and creatives for knowledge and cultural exchange to produce well-designed home-branded products. This approach aims to link society, cultural heritage, and the economy in one initiative, which leads to the creation of an effective space that leads to the preservation of the originality of the heritage components in Al Najadah and the development of the creative industry.

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