Discover the ancient City of Al Zubarah


Welcome to Qonversations. Today’s episode is about one of the most exceptional cities in Qatar. It was abandoned in the 19th century and has become an important archaeological site, protected by national law and UNESCO.

The town of Al Zubarah presents the only remaining complete urban plan of an Arabian pearl-merchant town.

As a fortified town connected to settlements in its hinterland, Al Zubarah is an example of the small independent states that were founded and thrived during the 18th and early 19th centuries outside the control of the Ottoman, European, and Persian empires. This period is a significant historical moment when the current Gulf States were founded.

Al Zubarah carries a unique testimony to the human interaction with the sea and the harsh desert environment of the region. Pearl diving, imported ceramics, depictions of dhows, and agricultural activity describe how the town’s development was run by trade and commerce and how closely its inhabitants related to their environment.

What makes the urban landscape of Al Zubarah and its intact surroundings exceptional is the evidence they present because of complete abandonment over the last three generations. This helps them be understood as a fossilised reflection of how coastal trading towns harvested resources from the sea and their desert hinterland at a specific time.

Al Zubarah is appointed as an archaeological site according to national law and, in 2013, was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Nowadays, it represents one of the biggest active archaeological sites and has also been arranged as a museum open to the public.

Only 105km from Doha, Al Zubarah should definitely be on your visit list. Like, share and subscribe for more topics related to Qatar’s history and culture. See you soon.

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