Souq Haraj: Where small money can fetch a big deal
February 19 2013 12:27 AM
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Piles of clothes wait for people to buy what best suits them. PICTURES: Jayan Orma
Piles of clothes wait for people to buy what best suits them. PICTURES: Jayan Orma


By Zia Khan/Staff Reporter

It’s a place where a mobile phone is sold for QR30, a children’s cycle for QR50 and an LCD television for QR200.
At Doha’s Souq Haraj, it is a win-win situation for both buyers and sellers. Everyone goes back satisfied - customers who get the ‘best deals’ as well as sellers who are happy that their pockets are a bit heavier at the end of the day.
Business at Souq Haraj, which is located at the junction of Al-Najma and Al-Mansoura, comprises a variety of used stuff - from tiny toy cars for the little ones to refrigerators made by renowned appliance companies.
A large number of buyers and onlookers throng the place where footpaths and empty patches between the rows of shops transform into a chaotic trading yard with makeshift stalls every Friday afternoon.
No wonder that business is booming at the Souq Haraj, which has earned the reputation of being a market where ordinary Qatar residents can find quality used household goods at affordable rates.
“You come here to buy one thing but end up loading yourself with many more, primarily because the prices are irresistible,” said Khalid Farooq, a 34-year-old sales executive from Sudan (North) who has been living in Doha for almost half a decade.
The man, who is in the city without his family like thousands of other expatriates, had come to the market to buy a microwave oven. However, the remarkably low rates offered at Souq Haraj lured him into looking for other goods as well.
“This is what you always look for when you are single here… you can find good deals here,” he said while standing inside a shop where electronic items like TV sets and airconditioners are sold.
The shop is one of the four stores owned by a Palestinian businessman at Souq Haraj. Asadullah Fazil, a 26-year-old Sri Lankan, is a salesman at one of these outlets.
He said the business of used goods has been booming for the past couple of years as the prices of new items have gone up manifold, putting a cap on disposable household incomes.
“As a salesperson, my observation is that people simply do not have any money to spend on new things. So, more and more people are coming to us,” Fazil explained, as he continued to deal with his customer from Sudan.
The point he made was backed by Noor Mohamed Bangash, a Pakistani expatriate, who lives close to the market and visits the place almost every Friday - mostly “for fun or for nothing at all”.  “Things that used to end up in dustbins a couple of years ago are being sold now... and the crowd here keeps getting bigger,” he said.
Basit Ali, another Pakistani, bought a watch from a makeshift stall two weeks ago for QR100. He visited the market again a few days later hoping to get another “great deal”. This time, though, he could not buy anything other than a men’s headscarf for QR5.
“I was looking for something for my children, but it seems there is nothing for me here today,” said Ali, a father of four.
An administrator at the market who did not want to be named told Gulf Times that Baldia, the government arm that deals with such marketplaces, has cracked down on the illegal stalls several times but they are always back.
Fazil said his customers comprise people from various nationalities, including Egyptians, Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans and sometimes even the British.
“They all come to us… some regularly while others once in a while,” said the salesman, who has worked in the shop for five years.
Qataris, he said, do buy used stuff but not for themselves. “Mostly, people from this country come to get things for their servants or drivers,” he added.
He said Arab women and Indian men were the toughest customers as they would bargain hard for a lower price.
The British, on the other hand, did not insist on a discount in most cases.



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