Al Zubarah – University of Copenhagen

English / Arabic

Al Zubarah


Al Zubarah is a c. 400 hectare large site on Qatar’s northwest coast that encompasses the area of the town, harbour, a sea canal, two screening walls, the fort of Murair and the modern Zubarah fort. Following on from work carried out by the predecessor of the Qatar Museums Authority, QIAH has launched investigations in five new major areas inside the town, as well as carrying out a survey and excavations at Qal‛at Murair. Excavations have exposed the well-preserved remains of traditional courtyard houses, a souq and part of a large, palatial compound.



Ceramics and coins from the excavations attest to Al Zubarah’s far reaching trade and economic links in the late 18th century, with material deriving from eastern Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Gulf. Diving weights and other material culture show how closely the connections between the daily life in the settlement and pearl fishing and trading were. The etching of a dhow, found incised into the plaster in a room of a courtyard building, shows how close people associated their daily life with maritime trade and commerce.



Al Zubarah is an outstanding example of an 18th-19th century pearl fishing and trading town, preserved in its entire urban layout. It is the only place in the Gulf which still preserves the entire layout and fabric of a settlement dating to this crucial and formative period in the region’s history. It provides an unparalleled insight into urban life, spatial organization and the social and economic history of the pearl fishing and trading industry.