So this week’s Edition of Take me back Tuesday is of a recent trip (1 year ago) to the only UNESCO approved site in Qatar. Al-Zubarah. So to start with I will explain how to get to Zubarah, from Doha, take the North Road (Shamal Road) towards Madinat Al Shamal. Take Exit 59 marked for ‘Zubara’. (Not the one towards Al Khor/Ras Laffan). After 25 minutes, you will see Al Zubarah Fort on the horizon.
On my trip I went as part of a work trip, as the company I was working for Qatar Museum who managed the Zubarah Archeological site arranged for several of its staff for a guided tour of the site. However they also open the site and tours for non-staff and you can sign up here.
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.
Zubarah fort and the adjacent archaeological site is well worth a trip and represents a shining pearl of history in an otherwise historical landscape. This is because the fort, along with the archaeological town down on the coast, has been given UNESCO world heritage status. With this status comes a certain amount of responsibility and regulations and as you can see the archaeologists are hard at work…
The fort had just been restored and installed within is an impressive exhibition detailing the history of Zubarah and its role in establishing Qatar as an important place of trade.
This includes interactive touch screens and a small film in a room directly next to a newly opened shop (in which you can buy snacks, drinks books and postcards). A short distance away is a small exhibition of the recently uncovered archaeological finds found on the ongoing archaeological excavations that are occurring in the buried town down on the beach, a mere 5 minute drive away.
In 2009, the QMA jointly launched the Qatar Islamic Archaeology and Heritage Project (QIAH) with the University of Copenhagen. The QIAH is a ten-year research, conservation and heritage initiative with the objective of investigating archaeological sites, preserving their fragile remains and working towards the presentation of the sites to the public. A team from the University of Hamburg recorded the architectural remains of Zubarah in great detail with a 3D scanner. To preserve the architectural remains, a restoration program has been launched using special, saline resistant mortar and plasters to maximise the visitor experience, while abiding by UNESCO heritage guidelines. The aim of the conservation work is to preserve the authenticity of the site, as well as to preserve areas that can be enjoyed by visitors to the site through, among other means, interactive displays on mobile devices.
It was interesting to see how these guys (archeologists) live for months on end in the middle of the desert, however with it being Qatar and being a well funded project, the living quarters were not too shabby…
All in all, this is great day out (and also free) and if you leave for the site in the morning, then you maybe able to go to the beach which is less than 15-minute off-road drive from the fort and I am sure will complete a great day out, however please be warned going out in the winter months (up to say March) can result in some strong winds there…
So please take appropriate clothing. bring some snacks and drinks as the options there are quite limited. Adieu…Adieu….Stormy!