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Heritage sites

Several heritage sites offer a window into Qatar’s past, from the UNESCO site of Al Zubarah, Al Jassasiya Rock Carvings, to the once thriving dye industry at Bin Gannam Island.  

Heritage sites

Al Zubarah Fort 

Adjacent to the walled coastal town of Al Zubarah, this 20th century fort is the youngest and most prominent feature of the Al Zubarah Archaeological Site, a UNESCO World Heritage site.  A pristine example of a typical Arab fort, its one-meter-thick walls warded off invaders and helped keep rooms cool during the hot summer.  This important site houses residential palaces, mosques, courtyard houses, fishermen’s huts, streets, double defensive walls, a harbour, a canal, and cemeteries. 

Barzan Towers

Built in the traditional Qatari design from coral rock and limestone between 1910- 16, this imposing 16-meter high watchtower was a lookout for approaching ships, particularly those of incoming Ottoman troops in the early 1900s.  It is believed to have also been used to protect water supplies and as an observatory to track the moon and determine the dates of the lunar calendar. Unlike other forts in Qatar, the Barzan Towers were built over several floors, giving it the name Barzan, which means High Place in Arabic. 

Heritage sites


Umm Salal Muhammed




Al Koot Fort

Right in the heart of Doha, near the bustling Souq Waqif, is the well-preserved Al Koot Fort – an imposing, white-stone square fort that was originally built in 1880 and then rebuilt in 1927 by Sheikh Abdulla bin Qassim Al Thani after the original fort was abandoned by the Ottomans. Each corner of the fort has a watch tower – three circular and one rectangular. Since it was built, the fort has served as a jail, a police station and was used as a museum where artefacts and artworks including authentic Qatari handicrafts, ornaments, original fishing equipment and boats, historic photos, and oil paintings were housed. 

Al Jassasiya Rock Carvings

Located in the north-east of Qatar, Al Jassasiya is the most impressive of Qatar’s dozen rock-carving sites.  It comprises a total of 874 carvings, known as ‘petroglyphs’, the earliest thought to date from Neolithic times.  What may appear to be a deserted sandstone quarry is a heritage site packed with mystery.   Discovered around 1957, the rocky desertscape has distinct carvings stretching across an area 700 meters wide.  The Al Jassasiya rock carvings feature various shapes, including rosettes, fish, ostriches and cup marks. Carvings of dhow boats, which remain in use to this day, offer a direct link to a long ago past. The cup marks are believed to represent vessels used to store pearls or play ancient board games known as Al Haloosa or Al Huwaila.

How to get there?

  • The site is located in the North of Doha, an easy drive around 50 miles away. You can drive north on Al Shamal Highway until you reach Exit 66. Take a right and continue at the intersection where you take a left turn. After about 3 kilometers, you will see the large fenced off area that is Al Jassasiya, which you will have to walk into from this point. 

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