Visitors and residents who don’t know Arabic may have trouble with some place names because they are transliterated, not translated.

Here are some worth understanding:

First up Rawdat Al Khail. Difficult to get your tongue around, but it’s a good story. Rawda means a meadow and Al Khail has to do with horses. So, the verdant area alongside the street at the C Ring Road Intersection, formerly called Al Muntazah Park and now called Rawdat Al Khail Garden, is where, in days gone by, the servants of the Emir brought his horses to graze. The horses would have loved the foliage, the cool, shaded meadow, though it was a long walk to get there from Al Bidda, where the Emir resided.

Jamiaa means university and thus the name for the street running from TV Roundabout past Qatar University to the start of Route 1A near Doha Golf Club. Of course it was named before the creation of Qatar Foundation and Education City and the subsequent proliferation of universities there.

Al Funduq Street is the name of the street leading to the Sheraton Hotel. Funduq means hotel, and the road was named when the Sheraton was almost the only hotel in Doha; hard to believe now!

And what is Al Dafna? This is the official name for the English ‘West Bay’ area. It is understandable if you know that the whole area has been reclaimed from the sea, the Arabic dafna having connotations of burying, so here meaning roughly ‘filled in’ or ‘reclaimed’ land.

Back to horses. Arabic has many words on the subject and horses have long been loved here, so it is no surprise that the street at the edge of Doha, alongside Aspire Park, is called Al Furousiya Street. Furousiya roughly means ‘equestrian’ and you will notice that on the Al Rayyan side of the street is the Racing and Equestrian Club. Right now there are races on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. It’s a great spectacle, and it’s free.

A word about ‘Doha’: as mentioned on the previous, driving down Route 5 you may catch a glimpse of the sea when you are getting near to the border. This sea is called Doha(t) Salwa because 1. the sea is in the shape of a very large bay and 2. Salwa is the first town in Saudi Arabia across the border.

The capital of Qatar was named ‘Doha’ precisely because it is situated on a very large and open bay, much wider indeed than you think today, as the jutting peninsula of Al Dafna, or West Bay area, is only a recent and man-made creation.

Contrast this to Al Khor which is on a bay the entrance to which is a narrow inlet; the most striking example may be Khor Al Adaid where the mass of sea water has to pass through a very long and very narrow channel to reach the Inland Sea. So ‘Doha’ for a wide, open bay and ‘Khor’ for a narrow-necked one.

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  1. Arnie Janson

    Fascinating reading! Many thanks!!