Rapid and sophisticated infrastructural developments have become a hallmark of Qatar. The country has witnessed construction of skyscrapers and roads. Further, the urban regeneration has also been ushering in new infrastructural surprises.
Major urban development works generally replace old buildings, shops and houses. This is the case in the areas around Msheireb Downtown Doha. The areas that were once bustling business places are fasting giving way to new structures leaving behind only fond memories of old shops, streets, restaurants and houses.
Goan Art Tailors is one such tailoring shop that was set up some 63 years ago in the area called Arab Dawar. Later they moved to Sofitel area close to Msheireb. The shop has recently been moved to a street in Al Mansoura. The shop, its owners, and customers have numerous memories to cherish as the business gets underway at the new place.
In a recent conversation with Gulf Times, Nicolau C Rodrigue, current owner of the shop, shared memories and how the business flourished in the old area. “The shop was set by my father-in-law – Sebastiao Francis Crasto – in 1957. He passed away in 2007. I joined the business some 28 years ago. Today I run the family business. He used to tell me that when he started the shop, there were only three tailoring shops in Doha.”
Speaking about the business during the earlier days, Nicolau said: “Our business has for long been very good as we prepared all sorts of dresses for children, men and women. With the passage of time, the population of the country increased and more Indians also came here. My father-in-law used to open the shop at 4am every day. There was good business. The shop soon became a sort of brand name for fine dresses. No doubt, shifting of the shop has been a difficult task and we may lose some business also. However, we are hopeful that our brand name will support itself at the new site.”
The shop owner says that they are going to miss their old location for a long time. “We have lots of memories associated to the area where our shop was. Once it used to be a busy business area. Customers used to visit our old shop in large numbers as everyone knew where we were located. As we moved out to give way to new structures, we hope that we will also have wider opportunities at the new shop.”
Regarding the changing dress fashions and trends, Nicolau said: “Now cotton fabrics are more in vogue. Earlier there used to be a much higher demand for the woollen stuff as the weather used to get much colder during winter. Nowadays, winters are not really strong in Qatar. Now people prefer jeans and T-shirts.”
The Indian expatriate expressed satisfaction over what his family has achieved through their business in Qatar. “My daughter also works with me. She is the third generation associated with the shop. My wife was born in Qatar. It shows how satisfied we are with the business in Qatar. We face no issues staying and working here. The shop has also provided us financial stability. In Goa, we have built a good house.”
On the changes he has witnessed in Qatar, Nicolau said: “Qatar has recently made huge development. When I came here, there used to be one major hotel – Sheraton. The economic growth here has also given our business a push. We have been dealing with major hotels, restaurants, companies and major Sheikh families. Qatar has been very caring and supporting for us. Our business grew alongside Qatar’s growth. I foresee a better and prosperous future for my family here.”