Qatar is a country in the westernmost subregion of the Asian continent or the Middle East. It is home to 313,000 Qatari citizens and over 2.2 million expatriates. The country happens to be a high-income economy and is the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas in the world. In the 21st century, the Arab world has been a witness to the rise of Qatar as a significant power.
Recently it has been in the news as the country will be hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Thus, it has become the first Muslim and Arab country to host such an event. Qatar is also popular as the home to innumerable heritage sites including watchtowers, settlements, and ancient towns. Some of them date back to 2000 BCE. Here is a list.
Al Zubarah Archaeological Site
The Al Zubarah archaeological site was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013. It is the only place in the country to be given this status. Al Zubarah is a coastal town that is considered the most important trading port of the 18th century in the Gulf. A city wall, market, industrial areas, mosques, residential houses and museums, etc can be found among the town’s remains. It is not far from Doha. It is an hour and a half drive from the country’s capital.
The Qal’at Murair settlement and the AL Zubarah Fort are present there. There is a visitor center that offers detailed and fascinating information about the town and the area surrounding it. Al Zubarah is the epitome of traditional building techniques in Qatar. You will get amazing insight into the trade and traditions of the significant coastal towns of the region hailing from the Islamic era of the 20th century.
If you travel 5km north of Al Zubarah, there is a small abandoned town close to a shallow bay. Present on the site on the shoreline is the remains of a traditional Qatari mosque. According to research, the settlement of Freiha predates Zubarah and was probably abandoned with the establishment of the new town. Over the years, the size of the main town seems to have varied a lot in its size. Several buildings in Freiha have been remodeled frequently.
Ruwayda is located half an hour northeast of Al Zubarah. 2.5 km in length, Ruwayda is among Qatar’s largest archaeological sites. After archaeological excavations, a large fortress has been dug out. Inside the fortress, there is a palatial residence, many warehouses, two wells, a ship repair shop, a seaside mosque, and the remnants of various temporary structures. But not much information has been derived from the site.
According to prominent historians, people abandoned the site by the time the 18th century was about to end. The unearthed objects on the site suggest that the place once boasted of far-reaching trade connections with different parts of the world. The list of items found includes ceramics imported from Europe, porcelain cups from the Far East, stoneware and granite mortar from Iran, earthenware from Bahrain and UAE, and mangrove roof beans from Africa.
Al Rakiyat Fort
Al Rakiyat Fort is among those forts that have been renovated in the 80s decade to bring back its original structure. The previous structure is still present in the courtyard. It was built to shield the freshwater well which was the main source for the village located nearby. The 19th-century fort is just an hour’s drive from Qatar’s capital, Doha. Several forts and villages have been built in traditional style. The site lies 5km off the main road. If you want to access the site, four-wheelers are recommended.
The Barzan Towers are some of the most well-preserved century fortifications and religious buildings in Qatar from the 18th and 19th centuries. Sheikh Mohammad bin Jassim Al Thani laid the foundation stone of the towers in 1910 and 1916. Both towers have been restored in recent times. The towers, along with a mosque and madrasa are made of stones that were covered with mud.
The other significant sites are the Al Khor Towers, Al Jassasiya, the Old Palace, Jazirat Bin Ghanam or Purple Island, and Ras Brouq. If you are heading to Qatar for World Cup 2022, make sure you pay a visit to these archaeological and heritage sites as no Qatar trip is complete without a stop at these sites.