The Al Zubarah fort and archaeological site is celebrating the end of a highly successful season with the largest number of visitors ever experienced. 

This is following its recent restoration and redevelopment, which involved the opening of a new visitor centre, improvements to facilities and site access, and a series of outreach programmes to schools and communities. In the first three months of 2014, more than 30,000 visitors experienced the new visitor centre, Zubarah settlement and archaeological excavation site, which is already a 170% increase compared to the entire 2013 season.

Deputy Managing Director at Maersk Oil Qatar, Sheikh Faisal Al Thani, said:

We are delighted that the redevelopment of Al Zubarah has been such a success and that so many people are exploring Qatar’s rich heritage. Through our social investment programme, Maersk Oil is proud to support this important site which is closely tied to the history and culture of our nation. The UNESCO World Heritage status also means that this is a regionally and internationally recognised site which is a great achievement.’

Al Zubarah Archaeological Site gained UNESCO World Heritage status last year. Its remarkably pristine archaeological remains offer a unique window into the foundations of modern Qatar and the development of the Gulf. The site and associated activities are partially sponsored by Maersk Oil Qatar and have proved successful at attracting a wide range of people, with many families choosing to spend their weekends enjoying what is now Qatar’s leading historical attraction.

Al Zubarah Archaeological SiteDirector of Archaeology at Qatar Museums, Faisal Al Naimi, said:

Visitors are encouraged to experience and engage with the excavation and history of this site through photos, displays and walking tours, which we hope will raise awareness of the value of this site, to Qatar and the Gulf.’

The town of Al Zubarah was founded in the late 18th century by the pearl merchants of Basra and Kuwait. The fortified, walled settlement site is over 60 hectares in size with an intricate, planned network of public and private buildings. Modern excavations, being carried out by the University of Copenhagen and Qatar Museums, are revealing palaces, a commercial centre, mosques and residential buildings. The site is being carefully restored in order to provide a world-class visitor experience. Director of Strategy Development at Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA), Hassan Al Ibrahim, said:

Our objective is to demonstrate the use of existing Qatari assets to build new touristic assets and offer a truly authentic Qatari experience to attract international tourists…history and Culture will continue to play a lead role as one of the strategy’s focus tourism products in the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030. The range of arts and cultural attractions such as Al Zubarah are not only some of Qatar’s most popular attractions, but also reflect the deep cultural roots that we seek to highlight and preserve as a country and as a tourist destination.’

The newly opened visitors centre at Al Zubarah fort hosts activities for adults and children. Every weekend during last few months, visitors were enjoying the touch of Qatar’s tradition, with tents outside the fort where one could experience traditional food, beverage and handicrafts, as well as camel rides.

Al Zubarah Archaeological Site is open to visitors from 9 am to 5 pm every day. Entry is free.

For more information, visit Al Zubarah Archaeological Site’s website.