Selling the past: A paradise for nostalgic buyers

 22 Jan 2017 - 11:19

Selling  the past: A paradise for nostalgic buyers

By Irfan Bukhari / The Peninsula

The auction of hundreds of antiques from Arab world including Arabian swords and teapots and decades-old electronic items like radio sets, gramophone records at Souq Waqif every Friday pulls hundreds of collectors.

On the West side of Souq Waqif, different collectors from various Arab countries sell antiques and the weekly auction has become a desirable destination for hundreds of collectors. Not only tourists but the residents including both citizens and expatiates also avail the opportunity to buy old things out of their passion for the past.

The auction is held every Friday in which any collector of antiques can present his collection for sale. Most of the objects displayed at stalls are indigenous items representing Arab culture and history like carpets, Arabian teapots of brass and copper, postal stamps, manuscripts of the Holy Quran, swords, etc.

Alongside, obsolete electronic gadgets belonging to ‘70s and ‘80s like radio sets, gramophone records, tape recorders, clocks and other Western decoration items were also displayed for sale.
“These gadgets have taken me 40 years back in no time. I remember using these cameras and radio sets during my young age. These auctioneers are selling the past and providing people with an opportunity to not forget their journey to the present day,” said Abu Saad, an expat from Egypt.

Abu Ahmed, a collector from Jordan whose collection was on display said that he had collected various old items and antiques from all over the Arab world.

“I have displayed swords, daggers, carpets, antique telescopes, Arabian teapots etc. which I collected from Syria, UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. I bring only valuable things and buy them whenever and wherever I find them from common people and sometimes from local ragmen in Jordan who are not aware of their value,” he added.

He said that various antiques had different price tags from QR200 to around QR5,000. “I also have some old manuscripts of the Holy Quran and other out-of-print Islamic books,” he said, adding that the sales-exhibition of antiques and old things was being jointly organised by multiple collectors.

After inspecting dozens of objects, a Turkish tourist at last found a traditional Turkish coffee-pot belonging to Ottoman Empire age. The owner claimed that the pot with distinctive engraving of Ottoman era was 150 years old. He demanded QR1,700 for the antique piece. The stalls had almost all kind of old or antique household items from cookware to clocks, decoration pieces to rugs, photo frames to books, watches to teapots, radio sets to gramophone records, coins to postal stamps, swords to commemorative badges, etc.

Thomas, a tourist from New York, bought a small marine telescope which according to the salesman was from late nineteenth century for QR800 after a long, hectic haggling. “I have also bought some other items from Souq Waqif as souvenir but nothing can beat the worth of an antique piece,” he said.

To a question regarding high prices of antiques and other old items, Nasar, a collector from Egypt who was also participating in the exhibition, said that the search of antiques was an expensive job. “We travel a lot from one country to another and travel from city to city to find these things therefore our travelling cost increases price of antique objects we sell here,” he argued.

He said that during the days cruise ships docked at Doha Port, the sales of antiques would see upswing trends. “Tourists generally buy those antiques which represent Arab history and culture like swords, traditional teapots etc,” he observed. He said decades-old electronic items were a source of fascination for kids and teenagers who had not used or seen them earlier while their elders would buy them to keep their memories of past alive.