Throughout history, Northern Qatar was a much sought-after location for nomadic people looking to settle down. Vestiges of early fishermen's villages, archaeological areas and magnificent forts can still be found throughout the area. Two of the most historically significant forts, 'Al-Thagab' and 'Al-Rekayat,' stand just north of the well-known Al-Zubarah fort.
Rain is a priceless commodity in the desert, and although much of the surrounding areas have been desolate for hundreds of years, these two forts were constructed in the 17th century to help the inhabitants protect a nearby 'raudah,' a small depression, where rainwater would collect in the spring months.
Today, water is still collected in wells nearby the fort, enabling local farmers to grow vegetables.
Al-Thagab is a traditional rectangular fort. Similar to Al-Zubarah, Al-Thagab has three round corner defensive towers and one rectangular one. Its central courtyard is a wide-open space, and all of the interior rooms are on the west side.
Local authorities restored Al-Thagab in 2003, staying faithful to traditional building technique of using coral rock and limestone, joined by a mud mortar and covered with gypsum-based plaster. A visit to the fishermen's villages in the northwest as well as the 3D model of the Qatari mosque clearly show the features of this building technique.
Al-Rekayat is also a traditional four-sided fort, but this one has three rectangular towers and one circular one. However, the most remarkable feature of this fort is its walls.
The bottom portions are made with irregular coral rock and limestone blocks joined together with mud mortar, but the tops are made of mud bricks. This technique is known locally as 'liban,' though most of the world calls it 'adobe'.
Moreover, a small mosque for the farmers can still be found outside the Al-Rekayat fort. Instead of using a 'minaret' to call people to prayer, the 'muezzin' called from the circular tower.
Qatari Authorities carried out preservation works in 1988.
Both forts were built with thick walls that isolated the heat and kept the rooms cool.
The roofs were finished with a layer of compressed mud that further protected the forts from the sun during the hot seasons.
Planning a visit
A four-wheel-drive vehicle and a GPS device or compass are required to reach these sites. They are always open and there is no admission fee. Visiting Al-Thagab before Al-Rekayat gives you the chance to observeÂ their different construction techniques and states of preservation. Also, allow some time to enjoy the green fields and trees that grow in the area thanks to the rainwater collected in the depressions.
Consider bringing some snacks and refreshments along, as the nearest restaurant is in Madinat Al-Shamal.
Please remember not to litter the area and to take any garbage back with you.
Al-Thagab N 26° 01' 59" E 51° 07' 02.02"
Al-Rekayat N 26° 03' 05.32" E 51° 07' 50
The two forts are located about 120 km from Doha, and 15 km north of Al-Zubarah Fort. Once you get to the Al-Khuwair radio station, drive inland off-road for two km, heading in the direction of the group of houses and trees. The forts are just two km apart.