Here are some ancient, must visit forts in Qatar

Here are some ancient, must visit forts in Qatar

By shereendsouzaqsg

For those of you who thought Qatar has no ancient architectural ruins and forts except Zubarah, here is a list of forts and ancient settlements that you can check out, if you haven’t already. The below list is testament to Qatar’s rich history. How many of these have you visited?

Al Zubarah

The walled coastal town of Al Zubarah was a thriving pearl fishing and trading port 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 eventually building up to the modern day Gulf States.

Al Rakayat

The fort of Al Rakayat, north west of Doha, is one of several desert forts dating back to the 19th century, and one of the few that were renovated during the 1980s.

A freshwater well sits in the fort and the scattered remains of a village can be found nearby. Al Rakayat is the Arabic word for ‘well’ and it’s believed that the fort was built to protect the essential sources of water in the area.

It is typical of desert forts, with three rectangular towers and one cylindrical one. Three sides of the central courtyard are aligned with narrow rooms, without windows and doors that open onto the light and spacious courtyard.


Freiha, also called Furayhah, is a small deserted settlement on the northwestern coast of Qatar in the Madinat ash Shamal municipality. It is located in the Zubarah region, roughly 3 km north of Zubarah town. It was founded by the Al Bin Ali tribe , main and principal Utub tribe in the first half of the eighteenth century along with the historical town of Zubarah

In the centre of the site is the fort, a 45 meter square building with high defensive walls and corner towers. On the shoreline nearby are the remains of a traditional Qatari mosque. Fishing was clearly important for the inhabitants of Freiha – fish bones were recovered from the town and stone fish traps still survive in the sea.


Ruwayda is a lesser-known ancient town in northern Qatar. It was abandoned towards the end of the 18th century, however, it is now one of the largest archaeological sites in northern Qatar, stretching for more than 2.5km along the beach of a shallow bay.

Recent excavations have revealed a large fortress, palatial residence, two wells, warehouses, a mosque, a ship repair shop, a walled tomb, and the remains of other temporary structures. Findings from the sea nearby tell a story of far-reaching trade contacts, with porcelain cups from China, Japan and Myanmar, earthenware from Julfar and Bahrain, and stone paste fritware from Iran.

Ceramics from Europe have been found, mangrove beams, thought to have roofed the rooms, imported from Africa, red granite mortars probably from Iran, and a piece of bone carved in the form of an Oryx.

Al Thaqab

Al Thaqab Fort is located in the north of Qatar and presents itself as a good example of simplistic military architecture from olden times. Al Thaqab is very close to Ruwayda fort, so if you have located Ruwayda, you might as well drive by to check Al Thaqab too. 


Zekreet Fort is located in the massive area of Zekreet, which most of you might have visited. The fort dates back to the late 18th or early 19th century.

The fort's shape is quadrangular with four circular watchtowers. At the initial time of construction, the fort did not have any towers. The towers were instead added to each side in a reconstruction phase. Facilities for "debis" (date syrup) production are believed to have been at the site.

If you’re driving to Zekreet, might as well make a day of it as there is a beach nearby as well!

Al Huwaila

Al Huwaila is possibly one of the oldest towns in Qatar, and was quite prominent long before Al Zubara and Doha were developed. The fort is located 29km north of Al Khor and was built during the early Islamic period. It is known to have been occupied by Al Musallam members of the Bani Khalid family in the 18th century.

Al Koot

Al Koot Fort, most commonly known as the Doha Fort, is a historical military fortress located in the heart of DohaQatar's capital city. It was built in 1927 by Sheikh Abdulla bin Qassim Al Thani ruled Qatar from 1913 until 1949. The fort was later converted into a museum.

Qatari traditional handicrafts, products and photos of daily life with illustrations are housed in the fort. Exhibits and artworks include handicrafts, gypsum and wooden ornaments, fishing equipment and boats, historical photos and paintings including oil paintings of craft workers and daily life.

Umm Salal Mohammed

Barzan Towers also known as the Umm Salal Mohammed Fort Towers, are watchtowers that were built in the late 19th century and renovated in 1910 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Jassim Al Thani.

They are located at the southern side of the defensive system established at the end of the 19th century and start of the 20th century to protect the 'rawdat', a valley where precious rainwater is collected when it flows down from higher ground.

The buildings were restored in 2003. The towers measure 16 metres high. The fort links to two other fortified buildings towards the west and another tower towards the north. Barzan Towers may have been built near the sea to keep an observant eye on pearl divers, as a look-out for approaching ships, and as an observatory for keeping track of the moon.

Originally built with coral rock and limestone cementing the structures featured traditional Qatari design and building methods including "marazim" wooden to drain rainwater during storms away from the building walls, a "majilis" room between the towers to receive guests, and four-layer roofs with "danchal" wood pole construction, 'basgijl,' woven bamboo strips, mangrove mesh and a layer of compressed mud. The Barzan Towers have been rebuilt with features such as air-conditioners.

Al Wajbah

Al Wajbah Fort is one of the oldest forts in Qatar. Located in the locality of Al Wajbah in Al Rayyan, the fort was built in 1882 and was the location of an important battle when the army of Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani defeated the Ottoman army in 1893. It was used as the residence of Hamad bin Abdullah Al Thani at various periods. The fort's most prominent features are its four watchtowers. It underwent restoration in the later 20th century.

Sources of information: Qatar Museums, Wikipedia.

By Elegy• 11 Nov 2016 13:12

please include locations / maps as well..

By PunchLiner• 10 Nov 2016 17:22

yaawn !

By britexpat• 9 Nov 2016 08:51

Been to Al Zubarah, Al Thaqab, Zekreet and Al Koot. Always take a flask of Karak and picnic food from Ya Baba Rizks’ Emporium, along with blankets and lots of water.

Used to know a girl named Frieha :o)

By muad-db• 9 Nov 2016 08:13

So many to visits .. Will start with Zekreet this weekend

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