During our one day in Qatar, a new country in Asia for us, we knew that we were going to want to go to Al Zubarah, the one and only UNESCO World Heritage Site in the country. So, we planned to pick up a rental car, spend the night, get up early, and get on the road. There are things we wanted to do when we got back to Doha, like the world-famous Museum of Islamic Arts, and who knows what the traffic was going to be like.
Arriving at the Al Zubarah fort site, you can tell right away that it is a government-run museum. There were a few buildings with bathrooms, a couple of tents, and even the obligatory camels that you can have your photo taken with outside the fortress walls.
The fortress itself had obviously been renovated and rebuilt. The crenelated towers are very round, with perfect corners and a smooth surface. I have to say it makes a very impressive sight in the stark nothingness of the barren desert around it.
Stepping up into the shady cool entrance way, we signed the book. There was no fee. We were free to climb the walls, look in all the rooms, but really there wasn’t much there. An exhibition describing the excavation was the main thing to look at, and to be honest I’m not as interested in that as I am the history.
Since we drove instead of taking the bus, we were easily able to get to the main archaeological site. Here there were sprawling ruins. Some were cordoned off, and many of them were connected by dirt track. There was one guard shack and one caretaker on the premises, but he really didn’t seem to care too much what we were doing or worry if someone littered. We stumbled over some soda cans sitting on the wall, which I find a little disheartening.
Even though it was winter and only about 60 degrees Fahrenheit, the sun was high in the sky and it was beating down on us as we explored.
The ruins were a white sand color and blended in all too well with their surroundings. We did walk on the wall, climb a renovated turret, and look at a lot of foundations, but it wasn’t really captivating enough to spend too much time there, only about 45 minutes.
As world heritage sites go, there were not many people. It was quiet, well-maintained and interesting. It would make a great movie set or setting for a novel. We really enjoyed it.