Facts and Data

Official Unesco Page

Basis Data:
Unesco World heritage since: 2013
Size of heritage: 416 ha
- Buffer zone: 7,196 ha

Longitude: 51,030°
Latitude: 25,978°


The walled coastal town of Al Zubarah in the Gulf flourished as a pearling and trading centre in the late 18th century and early 19th centuries, before it was destroyed in 1811 and abandoned in the early 1900s. Founded by merchants from Kuwait, Al Zubarah had trading links across the Indian Ocean, Arabia and Western Asia. A layer of sand blown from the desert has protected the remains of the site’s palaces, mosques, streets, courtyard houses, and fishermen’s huts; its harbour and double defensive walls, a canal, walls, and cemeteries. Excavation has only taken place over a small part of the site, which offers an outstanding testimony to an urban trading and pearl-diving tradition which sustained the region’s major coastal towns and led to the development of small independent states that flourished outside the control of the Ottoman, European, and Persian empires and eventually led to the emergence of modern day Gulf States.

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Al Zubarah Archaeological Site

The Al Zubarah Archaeological Site, located in Qatar at coordinates N25 58 41 E51 1 47, is a UNESCO World Heritage site that holds immense historical and cultural significance. This site is a testament to the prosperous past of Qatar and provides valuable insights into the region's history.


Al Zubarah was once a thriving pearl fishing and trading port that flourished during the 18th and 19th centuries. It served as a crucial hub for trade between the Arabian Peninsula, the Indian subcontinent, and the rest of the world. The town's strategic location on the coast of the Arabian Gulf made it an ideal center for maritime commerce.

The town's prosperity was primarily driven by the pearl diving industry, which attracted merchants and traders from various parts of the world. The wealth generated from pearl trading allowed Al Zubarah to develop into a bustling town with a well-organized urban layout and impressive architectural structures.

However, the decline of the pearl industry and the emergence of new trading routes led to the gradual abandonment of Al Zubarah in the early 20th century. The town was eventually deserted, leaving behind a remarkable archaeological site that offers a glimpse into its glorious past.

Current State

The Al Zubarah Archaeological Site is spread over an area of approximately 60 hectares and comprises the remains of the town's fortifications, palaces, mosques, houses, and markets. The site showcases the architectural brilliance of the past, with its well-preserved structures and intricate details.

The most prominent feature of the site is the Al Zubarah Fort, which was built in the late 18th century as a defensive stronghold. The fort's imposing walls and towers stand as a testament to the town's military significance. Visitors can explore the fort's interior, which houses a museum displaying artifacts and exhibits that shed light on the history and culture of Al Zubarah.

Other notable structures within the site include the residential houses, which provide insights into the daily lives of the town's inhabitants. The houses feature traditional Qatari architectural elements, such as wind towers and courtyards, showcasing the region's unique building techniques.

The Al Zubarah Archaeological Site is meticulously preserved and maintained by the Qatari authorities. The site's inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage list has further enhanced its protection and conservation efforts. Ongoing archaeological excavations and research contribute to a deeper understanding of Al Zubarah's history and cultural significance.

Visitors to the Al Zubarah Archaeological Site can immerse themselves in the rich history of Qatar and witness the remnants of a once-thriving trading port. The site offers guided tours, educational programs, and interactive exhibits, allowing visitors to engage with the past and appreciate the cultural heritage of the region.

In conclusion, the Al Zubarah Archaeological Site in Qatar is a remarkable UNESCO World Heritage site that showcases the historical and cultural significance of the region. Its well-preserved structures and artifacts provide a glimpse into the prosperous past of Al Zubarah, making it a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and cultural explorers.