Qatar is planning to revive the once popular Al-Shamal municipality by turning it into an historical tourist attraction, in a bid to slow the exodus of residents to the capital Doha, it was reported on Thursday.
Al-Shamal was once a popular location for Qataris to live, but the discovery of oil and gas saw Doha rise in prominence and the municipality has now been overshadowed by its better known rival.
A 2010 census by the Qatar Statistics Authority found while Al Shamal municipality is four times the size of Doha it had a population of just 7,975 residents, compared to 796,947 in the capital.
Located 100km north of Doha, Al Shamal will be home to a 45,330-seat stadium as part of preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and, in a bid to boost its image and deter the exodus, officials are looking to maximise its heritage and transform it into a major tourism attraction.
Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) chairman Issa bin Mohamed Al-Mohannadi told local media the new plans will include a modern new harbour and development of the region’s archaeological sites.
Government funding and technical expertise are in place, Al-Mohannadi said.
"This could create more employment opportunities and improve local economy that could encourage locals to stay in Al Shamal," Al Mohannadi was quoted as saying by The Peninsula newspaper.