Al Zubarah town
Rich with history of Qatar and its people, Al Zubarah is one of the most interesting archaeological sites in the state.
Just two km west of the Al Zubarah fort, the Al Zubarah settlement shows evidence of a long-standing community where rich oyster banks and good trading connections in and beyond the Gulf ensured prosperity.
Surrounded by a long wall belt and guard towers, the original town was 2,000 meters long and 600 meters wide.
A separate quarter and a wider, more external wall were added later, and eventually houses were built outside of the walls.
The old town already existed in the early 17th century. In fact, an account written by Hamad bin Nayem bin Sultan Al-Muraikhi Al-Zubari Al-Qatari in April 1638, describes Al-Zubarah as a small harbor of 150 houses and 700 inhabitants, owning several boats and livestock, with multicultural inhabitants including Naim, Hawajer, Bedouins and Al-Ma'adha.
By 1765, the Al-Khalifa and Al-Jalahima groups, both of the Al-Utubi tribe, moved from their homeland of Kuwait to Bahrain in search of pearls and trading opportunities.
At that time, the Persians already occupied Bahrain so the Al-Utubi moved to Al-Zubarah.
The local Sheikh agreed to let the tribe settle inside the town in exchange for paying ordinary taxes for trading.
They refused and built their own fort, Al-Murair, about two km south of the AlZubarah fort. Later, the Al-Utubi provided the fort with additional walls.
Many believe the walls connected Al-Murair with Al-Zubarah, but there is no clear evidence.
The Al-Utubi also built a seawater canal used as a harbor connecting AlMurair and Al-Zubarah with the sea.
In a few short decades, Al-Zubarah and Al-Murair became flourishing centers of trade and pearling, and were recognized points of reference for the entire Arabian Gulf.
But this power and prominence made the towns targets of invasions from the ruling family of Bahrain.
In response, the Al-Khalifa invaded Bahrain in 1783, claiming sovereignty over the island.
Little by little, the Al-Khalifa migrated to Bahrain where they established a sheikhdom that endures still today.
Unfortunately, this migration caused the gradual decline of Al-Zubarah and Al-Murair. When the region was fully abandoned in 1937, it became an archaeological site.
The traditional Qatari technique of joining coral rock and limestone with mud mortar and topping with a gypsum-based plaster was used to construct the buildings.The plaster, often decorated with geometric patterns, protected the walls from natural elements such as wind and rain.
A visit to the fishermen's village in the northwest or the 3D model of the Qatarimosque clearly shows this building technique.
Today the area consists of long walls and two excavated sites. The first site was excavated between 1982 and 1984. Excavation on the second site began in 2002 and is still going on today. Most of the artifacts uncovered during the first season are ondisplay in the Al-Zubarah fort. In the meantime, the Qatar Museums Authority plans to do more excavations and conservation work at the remarkable 54-hectare Al-Zubarah town.
Planning a visit
This site is always open and there is no admission fee. We recommend driving a fourwheel-drive and bringing a GPS devise. Consider packing a bag and taking a swim in the sea near the ancient town. Bring along some snacks and refreshments, as the nearest restaurant is in Madinat Al-Shamal. Please remember not to litter the area and to take any garbage back with you.
You can also visit Al-Zubarah fort, which is now a local museum offering an overview of the long history of the Al-Zubarah town. The exhibit includes coins from West Africa, pieces of pottery, Chinese porcelain, Thai celadon, jewelry made with
semi-precious stones and pictures of the archaeological excavations.
Public restrooms are available at Al-Zubarah fort.
UTM coordinates N 25° 58' 27.4" E 51° 01' 39"
We recommend using a four-wheel-drive vehicle to explore the site. Al-Zubarah is located at the northwest coast of Qatar, 107 km from Doha. Take the North Road to Al-Khor for approximately 50 km and make a U-turn at the Zubarah sign. Take the first secondary road on your right. About 200 meters past the Al-Zubarah fort, enter the archaeological area through the first gate on your right and follow the path towards the West until you find the excavated areas.
Tel : +974 4452 5555
Website : www.alzubarah.qa