In the context of its celebration of the National Day, the Qatari Forum for Authors Dr. Muhammad Khalifa Al-Kuwari in a new session of the “Conversation with…” Program, moderated by the historian Dr. Ali Afifi Ali Ghazi. The session discussed urban heritage and its implications for Qatari society. Dr. Al-Kuwari started by introducing the concept of urban heritage as everything that is left by previous generations for the present ones. He divided heritage into two parts, tangible and intangible, stressing that economics and urbanization are two sides of the same coin. There can be no urban development without economics that helps develop urbanization, which reflects the customs, traditions and culture of the people of the country. He explained that the Qatari house in the ancient urban heritage contained large yards and halls, and that timber and cylindrical palm trunks were used in its construction, which are divided into three sections and wrapped with palm fibers that were transformed into ropes connecting the trunks. Construction consisted of mixing mud with straw or herbs to make it firm. Castles and walls were located in the Zubarah area, where approximately 400 houses existed in a commercially prosperous area. They were surrounded by walls due to the nature of Qatari geography, which is characterized by a flat surface that made it easier to raid cities. Therefore, Qatari cities, villages and urban areas formed a bastion against attacks from the hinterland. The markets were located in the middle or on the outskirts of the city, depending on the size of the city. The markets and the shops occupied narrow spaces. Al-Kuwari also touched on the urban heritage of the mosques, which were usually located on the outskirts of the city, while the bigger mosques where Friday prayers were held were located in the city center. The minarets were situated in the corner of the mosque. In the absence of loudspeakers, the muezzin used to climb the stairs of the minarets to make the call to prayer. Mosques incorporated halls inspired by the Arab architectural style of houses. Al-Kuwari explained that the urban pattern in the State of Qatar has changed as a result of the change in the economic lifestyle, i.e. from one that was mainly based on pearl diving and constituted the mainstay of the development process, to that of oil, and urban architecture changed in the first period while maintaining the same thought and culture.
14 December, 2021