|• Total||1.3 km2 (0.5 sq mi)|
|• Density||850/km2 (2,200/sq mi)|
Al Bidda is a neighborhood of Doha, Qatar. It was previously the largest town in Qatar in the 19th century, before Doha, an offshoot of Al Bidda, grew in prominence. Al Bidda was incorporated as a district in the Doha municipality in the late 20th century.
The earliest documented mention of Al Bidda was made in 1681, by the Carmelite Convent, in an account which chronicles several settlements in Qatar. In the record, the ruler and a fort in the confines of Al Bidda are alluded to.
Al Bidda became the most important town in the country after the decline of Zubarah in the early nineteenth century. Doha, the present-day capital, developed from Al Bidda. David Seaton, a British political resident in Muscat, detailed one of the earliest English accounts of Al Bidda in 1801:
Account by David Seaton: —
- Bedih [sic] is Situated in 25.18 N. Lat. and is a large open bay full of Coral banks with very unequal soundings from twelve to three fathoms, the land is low and sandy, hardly to be seen at the distance of ten Miles, on a nearer approach, it seems gradually rising from both extremes towards the centre, where it forms a ridge at the distance of half a Mile from the Shore, under this ridge near the sea, are two hillocks and a Valley between them, off each of the hillocks runs a Shoal with half a fathom at high water and between them a Channel with one and a half fathoms, and at the distance of a Mile and a half three fathoms, on the Northern hillock is a fortified House with a Wall and Square tower, in the Valley a breast Work with two Guns, and on the southern hillock two large huts with some kind of defence, and half a Mile to the Southward near the ridge is another Square building with a flag staff, under the Northern hillock is a sandy beach on which two Buglas, one Dow & one Botella were drawn up with a breast work of Stones, the only direct landing place is in the mouth of the Valley, but it would be attended with great loss without ships to drive the Enemy away as it is flanked by the breast work and boats, in which were a number of Men and ten Guns, and fronted by the two Guns in the Valley, about two Miles to the South is a Sandy beach without cover for the Enemy's snipers, but the Square building with the flagstaff must be stormed before the hillocks can be got at.
In January 1823, political resident John MacLeod visited Al Bidda to meet with the ruler and initial founder of Doha, Buhur bin Jubrun, who was also the chief of the Al-Buainain tribe. MacLeod noted that Al Bidda was the only substantial trading port in the peninsula during this time. Following the founding of Doha, written records often conflated Al Bidda and Doha due to the extremely close proximity of the two settlements. Later that year, Lt. Guy and Lt. Brucks mapped and wrote a description of the two settlements. Despite being mapped as two separate entities, they were referred to under the collective name of Al Bidda in the written description.
In 1847, Al Bidda was demolished by the sheikh of Bahrain and its inhabitants were removed to Bahrain. The sheikh also placed economic blockade over the town in 1852. In 1867, a large number of ships and troops were sent from Bahrain to punish the people of Al Wakrah and Al Bidda. Abu Dhabi joined on Bahrain's behalf due to the conception that Al Wakrah served as a refuge for fugitives from Oman. Later that year, the combined forces sacked the two aforementioned Qatari cities with 2,000 men in what would come to be known as the Qatari–Bahraini War. A British record later stated "that the towns of Doha and Wakrah were, at the end of 1867 temporarily blotted out of existence, the houses being dismantled and the inhabitants deported".
Around early 1871, the town became a base of operations for Bedouins resisting Ottoman rule after they established a foothold in Eastern Arabia that year. By December 1871, emir Jassim bin Mohammed authorized the Ottomans to send 100 troops and equipment to Al Bidda. Shortly after, Qatar was assimilated as a province in the Ottoman Empire, and Al Bidda was recognized as the official provincial capital.
Al Bidda Fort served as the final stronghold for Ottoman troops in the 1893 Battle of Al Wajbah. They surrendered after Jassim bin Mohammed's troops cut off the town's water supply and besieged the fortress. An Ottoman report compiled the same year reported that Al Bidda and Doha had a combined population of 6,000 inhabitants, jointly referring to both towns by the name of 'Katar'. Al Bidda was classified as the western section of Katar, and was stated to have mainly accommodated members of the Al Kuwari and Soudan tribes.
In J.G. Lorimer's Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf published in 1904, he describes Al Bidda as a large town which is a natural harbor due to its reefs, but states that vessels of more than 15 feet draft cannot pass. The land is described as stony desert which is 40 or 50 feet above sea-level. The majority of its inhabitants, who were said to be involved in pearl fishing, were composed of Qatari tribes, such as the Al-Soudan, Bahraini shopkeepers and immigrants from Al-Hasa.
As of the 2010 census, the settlement comprised 91 housing units and 6 establishments. There were 1,102 people living in the settlement, of which 98% were male and 2% were female. Out of the 1,102 inhabitants, 99% were 20 years of age or older and 1% were under the age of 20.
Employed persons made up 99% of the population. Females accounted for 1% of the working population, while males accounted for 99% of the working population.
Al Bidda tower, a 215-metre tall building, is currently being constructed in the district. It is planned to accommodate 43 stories and will have an aggregate net rentable area of 41,500 m². The curtain wall features a whirlwind design. Facilities will include commercial space, business centers, art galleries, restaurants, and a health club.
- "2010 population census" (PDF). Qatar Statistics Authority. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
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- Habibur Rahman, pg 63
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- Habibur Rahman, p. 152
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