Al Zubarah Fort


Qatar's first and only Unesco World Heritage site appears in the desert as if out of nowhere. The impressive structure, built in 1938, has four striking towers and stands alone in a sea of sand. Inside are cabinets of artefacts containing pearl merchants' boxes and simple yet utterly genius divers' nose pegs – used for pearling decades ago. A large commercial and pearling port was located here in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Info boards at the fort, which was used by the military until the 1980s, contain information on how remote villages like Al Zubarah used to find water in this stark and barren landscape. Archaeological excavations of the old pearling village are ongoing, but not open to visitors.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Qatar attractions

1. Al Jassasiya Rock Carvings

22.43 MILES

This profusion of petroglyphs – some 900 rock carvings depicting fish, cups in rows, rosettes, ships and foot marks – in northern Qatar has been seen by…

2. Al Dar Islands

27.86 MILES

Throughout the day sea taxis whisk visitors to this little desert island, where there are shallow swimming areas, various day-accommodation options (from…

3. Tree of Life

28.71 MILES

Although the Tree of Life's age has now been established, the mystique and allure of this lone, green, desert dweller remains strong. Planted around 1583,…

4. Baladna Farm

29.54 MILES

Qatar’s biggest and best-known dairy and meat producer is the only place in the country where you can experience life on a real working farm. Watch the…