Al Zubarah Fort
Al Zubarah Fort, Zubarah Fort for short, lies in the middle of nowhere really, in the municipality of Madinat ash Shamal in Qatar. The nearest town is Al Ruwais, some 25 km to the north.
Al Zubarah Fort is the most iconic desert fort of Qatar. It gets its name from the nearby archeological site of Al Zubarah town, which is a Unesco World Heritage site. This is a deserted ruined walled town dating back to the 17th century. The town, once a thriving pearl fishing and trading port which had its own fort called Qalat Murair, was destroyed in 1811. It was resettled in the late 1820's but on a smaller scale.
The Al Khalifa clan of the Utub tribe, the ruling family of Bahrain, have had a strong connection to Al Zubarah town. They ruled the town for a long time and it was the place from which they conquered Bahrain in 1783. Qatari rule over the area has been contested by Bahrain up until recently.
In 1938 Al Zubarah Fort was built by Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani to replace the by then dilapidated Qalat Murair and abandoned town of Al Zubarah. It was used as a coast guard/police station. In the 1970's there was still a modern structure built against the south side of the fort. In recent decades this was torn down and the fort was restored back to its present appearance.
At present the fort is a museum. In the rooms on the ground floor there is a nice small exhibition about the fort and the area. Outside the fort are a couple of container buildings which should house another small exhibition and a gift shop, but all were closed when I visited.
Al Zubarah Fort is freely accessible during daytime. For some reason I wasn't allowed access up unto the walkway on the first floor level by the guard. A very beautiful fort, even though it is not really old. A trip to the fort from Doha will take a good hour of driving but it is certainly worth it.