Al Zubarah Archaeological Site: World Heritage Site in Qatar

Al Zubarah Qatar, a view from south.

Exploring the flourishing past of Al Zubarah

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the walled coastal town of Al Zubarah, nestled along the shores of the Persian Gulf, flourished as a bustling hub of pearling and trade. Founded by Utub merchants from Kuwait, its prosperity stemmed from its involvement in trading high-value commodities, particularly pearls. At its peak, Al Zubarah boasted trading links with the Indian Ocean, Arabia, and Western Asia, solidifying its position as a key player in the region’s commerce.

Al Zubara Fort historic military fortress in Qatar Photo credit Leonid Andronov
Photo credit: Leonid Andronov

A legacy of prosperous trading towns

Al Zubarah was part of a lineage of prosperous, fortified trading towns that dotted the coast of what is now Qatar and other Persian Gulf regions since the early Islamic period. These towns, including Al Zubarah, developed symbiotic relationships with inland settlements and competed for dominance over the lucrative Indian Ocean trade routes.

Rise and fall: the story of Al Zubarah

Despite its prosperity, Al Zubarah met its demise in 1811 and was gradually abandoned in the early 20th century. As time passed, the town’s structures succumbed to the relentless advance of desert sands, leaving behind a silent testimony to its former glory.

Preserving history under the desert sands

Remarkably, Al Zubarah’s layout remained preserved under the desert sands, offering a glimpse into the vibrant trading society of the 18th and 19th centuries. Its intact urban landscape serves as a poignant reminder of a bygone era, where commerce thrived amidst the harsh desert environment.

Vintage canon & Zubarah fort, Qatar Photo credit aksphoto Getty Images Pro
Photo credit: aksphoto/Getty Images Pro

Understanding Al Zubarah’s significance

What sets Al Zubarah apart from other trading towns is not its uniqueness but rather its role as a testament to a tradition that shaped the region’s history. As an abandoned settlement, it provides invaluable insights into the merchant and pearl trading traditions of the Persian Gulf, highlighting the region’s strategic importance in global commerce.

UNESCO recognition: a testimony to history

Al Zubarah’s recognition by UNESCO underscores its exceptional value as the only remaining complete urban plan of an Arabian pearl-merchant town. Its inclusion as a World Heritage Site reaffirms its significance in preserving the cultural heritage of the region.

Al Zubara in Qatar
Photo credit: Leonid Andronov

Human interaction with the sea and desert

The remnants of Al Zubarah bear witness to the close relationship between its inhabitants and the sea, as well as the harsh desert environment. Artifacts such as pearl divers’ weights and depictions of dhows offer insights into the town’s maritime connections, while agricultural remnants reflect its reliance on the desert hinterland.

Al Zubar in Qatar
Photo credit: Leonid Andronov

Protecting Al Zubarah’s legacy

Despite the passage of time, efforts to protect and preserve Al Zubarah’s remains are ongoing. Legal protections, conservation strategies, and collaborative initiatives ensure that this invaluable piece of history continues to inspire future generations.

Legal safeguards and conservation efforts

Al Zubarah benefits from stringent legal protections, designating it as an archaeological site of national importance. Conservation efforts focus on stabilizing and protecting its fragile remains, while training programs ensure a skilled workforce capable of undertaking restoration activities.

Al Zubarah Qatar, a view from south.
Photo credit aksphoto/Getty Images

Securing the future: management and development

Comprehensive management plans outline strategies for archaeological investigation, conservation, and tourism development. Through collaboration between stakeholders and ongoing research, Al Zubarah’s legacy is poised to endure for generations to come.

Book popular activities

Related Posts

Find it on the map

UNESCO World Heritage Sites Google Map
UNESCO World Heritage Sites Google Map

Top Stories

Machu Picchu
7 wonders of the modern world are UNESCO World Heritage Sites too
July 12, 2022
UNESCO World Heritage Movies Spectre
Top 10 movies that feature UNESCO World Heritage Sites
November 19, 2018

Follow Us

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required


We are using cookies to give you the best experience. You can find out more about which cookies we are using or switch them off in privacy settings.
AcceptPrivacy Settings


Last updated: June 04, 2017

McCadams Creative, LLC (“us”, “we”, or “our”) operates the website (the “Service”).

This page informs you of our policies regarding the collection, use and disclosure of Personal Information when you use our Service.

We will not use or share your information with anyone except as described in this Privacy Policy.

We use your Personal Information for providing and improving the Service. By using the Service, you agree to the collection and use of information in accordance with this policy.

Information Collection And Use

While using our Service, we may ask you to provide us with certain personally identifiable information that can be used to contact or identify you. Personally identifiable information may include, but is not limited to, your email address, name (“Personal Information”).

We collect this information for the purpose of providing the Service, identifying and communicating with you, responding to your requests/inquiries, servicing your purchase orders, and improving our services.

Log Data

We may also collect information that your browser sends whenever you visit our Service (“Log Data”). This Log Data may include information such as your computer’s Internet Protocol (“IP”) address, browser type, browser version, the pages of our Service that you visit, the time and date of your visit, the time spent on those pages and other statistics.

In addition, we may use third party services such as Google Analytics that collect, monitor and analyze this type of information in order to increase our Service’s functionality. These third party service providers have their own privacy policies addressing how they use such information.


Cookies are files with a small amount of data, which may include an anonymous unique identifier. Cookies are sent to your browser from a web site and transferred to your device. We use cookies to collect information in order to improve our services for you.

You can instruct your browser to refuse all cookies or to indicate when a cookie is being sent. The Help feature on most browsers provide information on how to accept cookies, disable cookies or to notify you when receiving a new cookie.

If you do not accept cookies, you may not be able to use some features of our Service and we recommend that you leave them turned on.

Behavioral Remarketing

McCadams Creative, LLC uses remarketing services to advertise on third party web sites to you after you visited our Service. We, and our third party vendors, use cookies to inform, optimize and serve ads based on your past visits to our Service.

Service Providers

We may employ third party companies and individuals to facilitate our Service, to provide the Service on our behalf, to perform Service-related services and/or to assist us in analyzing how our Service is used.

These third parties have access to your Personal Information only to perform specific tasks on our behalf and are obligated not to disclose or use your information for any other purpose.


We may use your Personal Information to contact you with newsletters, marketing or promotional materials and other information that may be of interest to you. You may opt out of receiving any, or all, of these communications from us by following the unsubscribe link or instructions provided in any email we send.

Compliance With Laws

We will disclose your Personal Information where required to do so by law or subpoena or if we believe that such action is necessary to comply with the law and the reasonable requests of law enforcement or to protect the security or integrity of our Service.


The security of your Personal Information is important to us, and we strive to implement and maintain reasonable, commercially acceptable security procedures and practices appropriate to the nature of the information we store, in order to protect it from unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification, or disclosure.

However, please be aware that no method of transmission over the internet, or method of electronic storage is 100% secure and we are unable to guarantee the absolute security of the Personal Information we have collected from you.

International Transfer

Your information, including Personal Information, may be transferred to — and maintained on — computers located outside of your state, province, country or other governmental jurisdiction where the data protection laws may differ than those from your jurisdiction.

If you are located outside United States and choose to provide information to us, please note that we transfer the information, including Personal Information, to United States and process it there.

Your consent to this Privacy Policy followed by your submission of such information represents your agreement to that transfer.

Links To Other Sites

Our Service may contain links to other sites that are not operated by us. If you click on a third party link, you will be directed to that third party’s site. We strongly advise you to review the Privacy Policy of every site you visit.

We have no control over, and assume no responsibility for the content, privacy policies or practices of any third party sites or services.

Children’s Privacy

Only persons age 18 or older have permission to access our Service. Our Service does not address anyone under the age of 13 (“Children”).

We do not knowingly collect personally identifiable information from children under 13. If you are a parent or guardian and you learn that your Children have provided us with Personal Information, please contact us. If we become aware that we have collected Personal Information from a children under age 13 without verification of parental consent, we take steps to remove that information from our servers.

Changes To This Privacy Policy

This Privacy Policy is effective as of June 04, 2017 and will remain in effect except with respect to any changes in its provisions in the future, which will be in effect immediately after being posted on this page.

We reserve the right to update or change our Privacy Policy at any time and you should check this Privacy Policy periodically. Your continued use of the Service after we post any modifications to the Privacy Policy on this page will constitute your acknowledgment of the modifications and your consent to abide and be bound by the modified Privacy Policy.

If we make any material changes to this Privacy Policy, we will notify you either through the email address you have provided us, or by placing a prominent notice on our website.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, please contact us.