Al Zubarah

Once a thriving pearl fishing and trading port, Al Zubarah is now Qatar’s largest heritage site, with an impressive city wall, ancient residential palaces and houses, markets, industrial areas and mosques.

Al Zubarah is one of the best-preserved examples of an 18th- and 19th-century Gulf merchant town. In 2013, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Al Zubarah is open to visitors 9am–3pm Sunday to Thursday, with precautionary measuresin place.

Al Zubarah Visitor Guide (PDF)
A view of the archaeological remains at the Al Zubarah heritage site

Al Zubarah has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2013

A World Heritage Site

The town of Al Zubarah was classified as a conservation zone in 2009. Since then, Qatar Museums has led teams of archaeologists and scientists to research the site and engage with local communities.

In 2013 the World Heritage Committee named Al Zubarah a UNESCO World Heritage site. The site includes three major features, the largest of which are the archaeological remains of the town, dating back to the 1760s. Nearby is the settlement of Qal’at Murair, which was fortified to protect the city’s inland wells. Finally, the most prominent feature at the site is the Al Zubarah Fort, which was built in 1938.

New Perspective

The Qatar Museums team is currently working to protect the fort against the harsh desert and coastal conditions so future generations can also marvel at the site. We are also building a viewing platform in the northwest tower that will provide a vantage point for visitors. Digital displays are planned to give an interactive element and enhance the visitor experience.

Land Transformations

Al Zubarah and its cultural landscape showcase the socioeconomic transformations and the trading history and pearl-diving traditions that have sustained the major coastal towns of the region, from the Early Islamic period up to the 20th century. It is an invaluable example of the urban-planning capabilities of the time. It also forces us to reflect on the historically harmonious coexistence of cultures and ethnic groups from the Arabian Peninsula and offers examples of traditional Qatari building techniques.

It is significant to include Al Zubarah as part of the UNESCO world heritage list. It’s recognized for its human legacy and is significant to many Gulf nationals.

HE Sheikh Hassan bin Mohamed bin Ali Al-Thani, Founder, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art

Public Art from Another Era

In 2014, teams of researchers at Al Zubarah, including participants from the University of Copenhagen and the University of Exeter, found 15 drawings etched into plaster on the walls of the old buildings.

The ancient graffiti depicted large ocean vessels that were commonly used in the Gulf and Indian Ocean for trade. The discovery was yet another indicator of the trading importance of Al Zubarah in the 18th and 19th centuries and the relationship that residents had with the sea.

Other artefacts found at the site of Al Zubarah in the past include 18th-century coins and ceramics from China, pottery and diving weights.

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