In the 1760s, the Al Khalifa and the Al Jalahima sections of the Bani Utub tribe migrated from Kuwait to Qatar's northwest coast and founded Az Zubarah despite hostilities between them. Because the Bani Utub had important trading connections with Kuwait and were close to the rich oyster banks, Az Zubarah became a thriving center of trade and pearling. In response to attacks on Az Zubarah by an Omani shaykh who ruled Bahrain from Bushehr in Iran, the Bani Utub of Kuwait and Qatar, as well as some local Qatari tribes, captured Bahrain in 1783. The Al Khalifa claimed sovereignty over Bahrain and ruled it for several years from Az Zubarah. Most of the Al Khalifa migrated to the more desirable location of Bahrain and established a shaykhdom that endures to this day. The presence left in Az Zubarah meant initially that the Al Jalahima branch of the Bani Utub could lead Qatar, with their leader, Rahman ibn Jabir Al Jalahima, earning a reputation as one of the most feared raiders on the surrounding waters. It also meant that with the economic decline of Az Zubarah, the peninsula would once more become a relative backwater. With no dominant local ruler, insecurity and rivalry characterized tribal relations. Settled tribes built walled towns, towers, and small forts to keep raiding beduin at bay.
Zubarah has only the fort left as any remnant of its heyday. The fort itself is a stark contrast to the flat landscape that surrounds it. It has been rebuilt to the way it would have looked using archeologists and antiquity specialists. There is a gate that surrounds the fort, however, there is a small home of the "gate-keeper". He is a pleasant elderly gentleman and he would be happy to let you in and let you explore on your own.
Al Zubara is a tiny little fort in the desert in North-west Qatar. In case you are lucky you will be the only one at this lovely place, since it is not so popular among tourists. Note the three palm trees standing in the middle of nowhere.
Just sit down, listen to the wind and the pigeons clapping their wings, and think about how life in a fort like this could be like 50-60 years ago, far from everything. Amazing!
Zubara fort, an hour ride accross the nearly deserted pensinsula, will conjur up memories of French Foereign Legion. It is not as old as old as it looks, only 70 some years, but is in every way an older, very traditional Arabian design. Inside is a small Museum about the abandoned city, the ruins of which are below the fort on the beach. Not a bad beach.. Great spot for a picnic.