A number of citizens have expressed concern over the old, dilapidated buildings in the country, especially in certain parts of Doha, stressing that the authorities need to effectively address the issue.
Local Arabic daily Arrayah recently reported that Qataris familiar with the issue suggested that a 'supreme committee' be formed to record and register such buildings, classify them and find out the best ways to utilise them in co-operation with their owners.
While many of these houses are abandoned, some are occupied by low-income workers who live there despite the risks involved, it is found.
Some of these houses feature architectural characteristics that could be preserved, maintained and, in turn, used for touristic purposes, they felt. However, some others are in a dilapidated condition and need to be demolished completely, while the plot could be used for other useful purposes.
Also, there are houses that could be repaired and maintained to be used for commercial or residential purposes.
The implementation of all such solutions need the active support of the authorities as the owners of these properties mostly do not have adequate means to handle them on their own, they said.
At the same time, some of these houses have been abandoned for a long period and their owners are difficult to trace, the report states.
Khalid al-Nasser, chairman of the Qatar Society of Engineers, said it is normal for the condition of houses and other buildings - which are abandoned or unused - to deteriorate. Besides spoiling the beauty and aesthetics of a neighbourhood, this poses a number of risks to people living around such buildings and some of them could even collapse any time - whether partially or completely, he noted.
In addition, some such buildings in Doha are inhabited by labourers, and this may cause problems for neighbours, it was pointed out.
As a result, the issue should be addressed as soon as possible in order to prevent the problems from aggravating.
Lawyer Mana Nasser said abandoned houses are largely concentrated in different localities of Doha, such as the older parts of the city, Old Al Ghanim, Umm Ghuwailina, Najma and others, and many of them could collapse and are unfit for housing purposes.
However, low-income expatriate labourers often live in these buildings though such a trend is "unacceptable", it was observed. Also, this could pose some safety and security risks besides spoiling the look of the city.
So, the municipal authorities concerned should spot and register such buildings and communicate with their owners to discuss with them the best possible ways to use such properties in a safe manner. In case the owners could not be identified, these could be acquired by the State for public good, it was suggested.
Speaking to the daily, Dr Ahmed al-Mohannadi said if left unused and unmonitored, these buildings could also be used as potential breeding grounds for criminal activities that could pose a serious threat to the society in general. This happens in places around the world, he felt. Accordingly, such buildings should be repaired and put to use or demolished, with the vacated land being used for useful purposes.
Atiq Mohamed al-Sulaiti, researcher and collector of folk heritage, suggested that old houses with distinguished architecture be preserved as an important part of the country's heritage and then given to some families to manage them for touristic purposes in co-operation with the authorities concerned.