5/6 Arch

Length: 2 minute read

Those unfamiliar with Doha—or those recently arrived—are likely unaware of the significance of Doha's roundabouts to the local community. Roundabouts were key landmarks by which people navigated and used to refer to areas of the city. They had memorable names, such as Oryx, Slope, TV, Burger King, Crazy and Parachute, and featured notable art installations. They also had fearsome reputations due to the number of accidents, delays and difficulties drivers had in negotiating them. Many welcomed the decision in 2013 to phase them out in favour of lighted intersections, but some mourned their passing. In recognition of their cultural importance to the city, several of the replacement intersections include new art installations or sculptures that reference the former names. One of the most notable of these is the 5/6 Arch that was once the Arch/Rainbow roundabout.

The poem itself is written as a zajal/zejel. This is a traditional form of Spanish-Arab poetry that dates to at least the twelfth-century CE and remains popular in the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa. It was featured in Writer's Digest in March 2019. It is commonly performed using colloquial language and is often semi-improvised and accompanied by music. Although there is some variation in its form, I followed these rules:

  • An opening couplet rhymed AA
  • Subsequent stanzas are quatrains rhymed XXXA (i.e. BBBA, CCCA, DDDA...)
  • Lines of 8 syllables

Roundabouts Doha
In Memoriam

by S.G. Parker

Let us remember on this day

Those roundabouts that passed away.

While oftentimes we did complain

And curse all those who cut in lane,

I sometimes miss that old refrain

Don't block the road, you fool, give way!

An accident morn noon and night

Where angry drivers argued right

And wrong beside blue flashing lights.

Why did we have to come this way?

Now traffic lights have been imposed

To neatly intersect our roads,

While red light cameras punish those

Who won't stop driving the old way.

No doubt in time this too will change.

We'll swoop on drones, rail against trains.

Though all is new it's still same-same,

'Til roundabouts we pass away.

16th February, 2020


Poem List