Qatar’s One and Only World Heritage Site – Al Zubarah

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An Ancient Fort on the Sands of Arabia

You have a stopover in Doha, Qatar? There's plenty to do, like their one and only world heritage sight, Al Zubarah. Click here to find out more. ..........................travel guide | one day | things to do | citybreak | travel tips | world heritage | top ten | what to see ~ReflectionsEnroute

During our one day in Qatar, 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.

Qatar Al Zubarah

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.

Qatar Al Zubarah

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.

Qatar Al Zubarah

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.

Qatar Al Zubarah

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.

Qatar Al Zubarah

Have you been to Qatar?  Have you been to Al Zubarah?  What did you think?

 

25 Comments

  1. I’ve yet to visit Qatar, and Al-Zubarah looks interesting. I’m surprised they haven’t taken advantage of the UNESCO status to drive more tourism that way!

  2. Looks so interesting! And so… deserted! Normally I expect World Heritage sites to have tons of people around. And kinda too bad that they renovated it actually… I like crumbling old ruins. Thanks for sharing this!

  3. Looks like an interesting place to walk around and explore. I am not a fan though when the site looks like it has been renovated and fixed up just to be a tourist spot. It would make a good movie set though.

    1. Mary, That’s right. There were only three other small groups there, one Qatari, one British man, and one American-speaking couple, but the place is so large between the two sites that you felt completely by yourself. Oh, and we were there on a Saturday, a day off, so I’ll bet there really is no one there during the week or on a Friday. If you get a chance to layover in Doha, you should go!

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