Heritage on the sea
For our ancestors, Al Zubarah was a thriving pearl fishing and trading port. Now it’s Qatar’s largest heritage site, with its impressive city wall, ancient residential palaces and houses, markets, industrial areas and mosques.
It’s one of the best-preserved examples of an 18th and 19th century Gulf merchant town and in 2013 was named a UNESCO World Heritage site.
A World Heritage Site
Once a thriving port bustling with fishermen and merchants, the town of Al Zubarah was designated a protected area in 2009. Since then, Qatar Museums has led teams of archaeologists and scientists to investigate the site. Through their research and engagement with local communities, they are documenting and shedding light on the rise and fall of this unique area.
In 2013 the World Heritage Committee inscribed Al Zubarah Archaeological Site into the UNESCO World Heritage List. The site includes three major features, the largest of which are the archaeological remains of the town, dating back to the 1760s. Connected to it is the settlement of Qal’at Murair, which was fortified to protect the city’s inland wells. Al Zubarah Fort was built in 1938 and is the youngest, most prominent feature at the site.
We’re currently working to protect the fort against the harsh desert and coastal conditions, for future generations of visitors. We’re building a viewing platform in the northwest tower that will be a great vantage point for visitors to get an aerial view of the archaeological site nearby. We’re also putting in extra displays with interactive digital content.
Al Zubarah and its cultural landscape unravel the socio-economic transformation of the land, and the history of urban trading and pearl-diving traditions that sustained the major coastal towns of the region, from the early Islamic period up to the 20th century. It is an invaluable example of urban-planning capabilities of the time.
It also forces us to reflect on the harmonious coexistence of cultures and ethnic groups from the Arabian Peninsula at that time, and offers examples of traditional Qatari building techniques.