Al Shamal or Madinat ash Shamal, which translates to ‘city of the north’, is one of the eight municipalities of the State of Qatar and is considered to be one of the major and largest cities in Qatar.

Al Shamal Municipality is home to popular villages and towns such as Ras Rakan, Al Ruwais, Al Zubara, Fuwairit, Al Ghariya, Abu Dhalouf and more.

Here’s what you can see and visit in the expansive Al Shamal Municipality (you need multiple trips to see all that’s in Al Shamal):

Al Shamal Sports Club Stadium (pictured above)

Al Shamal Sports Club Stadium opened in 2011 and is home to Al Shamal football team. Designed to look like the Al Zubarah Fort, it can seat 5,000 people.

For more information, visit

Al Shamal Park

Only for women and children, Al Shamal Park is one of the largest parks in the country. The large green park includes water fountains, playgrounds, bathrooms and other facilties. Children below the age of 15 are allowed into the park. Admission: Free.

Umm Tais National Park

There is a national park on the northeastern tip of Qatar on the uninhabited island of Umm Tais. The mangrove forests, beaches and varied geological structures, changing water levels and sea currents, provide a varied habitat that is teeming with marine and bird life. It also nurtures an important turtle‑nesting beach. For further information, contact one of the local tour companies. Admission: Free


Al Thaqab Fort

Al Thaqab Fort
Al Thaqab Fort lies about 10 km from Al Zubara, on the eastern side of the road. With finds such as fragments of pottery and Indian glass bangles, the fort could possibly date back to the 19th century. However the houses that surround it may indicate an earlier date. Thaqab means the ‘water in the bottom of the valley after rain’. Al Thaqab is one of the forts that was renovated in the 1980s but unfortunately, not authentically and carefully enough. In proximity to the fort, towards the west, there is a deep well that has been in use since 1911. The water is pumped out rather than hauled up in buckets, the latter representing an old and traditional custom still in practice today. Al Thaqab is a desert fort built of rough limestone blocks or flat slabs of beach-rocks (faroush), with three round corner towers and one rectangular tower. The inside of the fort, typically, was used by villagers to store food and water in case they were besieged.

Al Huwaila Fort
Prior to the development of Al Zubara (also written as Al Zubarah) and Doha, Al Huwaila was Qatar’s principal town and is 29 km north of Al Khor. The fort was built during the early Islamic period and was occupied by Al Musallam members of the Bani Khalid family in the 18th century.

More forts and archaeological sites listed below.


Al Mamlha

Al Ghariya 
Located 80 km from central Doha, just after Fuwairit, is Al Ghariya Beach, which is also known as Al Ghariya Island. Part of a series of alluring islands situated just off the coast of mainland Qatar, Al Ghariya is a popular weekend destination. Just after Al Ghariya Beach Resort, drive 1.5 km until you reach an abandoned village. The best spot is further north beyond the old Scout Camp.

Al Mafjar
Located in the historic and abandoned village of Al Mafjar on the northern tip of Qatar is Al Mafjar Beach, which is surrounded by abandoned historic ruins. It is a good beach for watersports, swimming, snorkelling and hiking. Al Mafjar Beach is close to Umm Tais National Park, an important protected habitat for birds and other animals.

Al Mamlha
Located in Al Ghariya, Al Mamlha is the second women’s only beach in Qatar. It is around 15,000 sq m and can be accessed through the main entrance from the north side. At night, the beach is lit up using eco-friendly solar energy. It is completely fenced and provides all basic facilities like toilets, guard rooms, umbrellas, barbecue places, rubbish bins, and rope barriers along the beach to prevent the entry of water bikes. Female guards provide protection for all visitors at the beach. Opening times: Daily 9 am – 10 pm. Admission: QAR25 for adults and QAR5 for children.

Al Maroona
Situated on the northern tip of Qatar, just before Fuwairit, Al Maroona is known as ’42 km Beach’ or ‘French Beach’. The sand is soft and golden and the water is crystal clear with fascinating sea life to explore. You may see starfish, turtles, tiny hermit crabs, jellyfish and plenty of other fish.

Al Shamal
Stretching along Shamal Corniche, the water is quite shallow and perfect for wading and for young children. There are shade covers; fixed benches; and plenty of showers/washrooms. It’s a great place to walk, run, swim and to just have fun with family and friends. And the sunsets are truly breathtaking. There are beach facilities, including bathrooms. Al Shamal Beach is approximately 97 Km from Doha, a drive time of one and a half hours.

One of the best and most popular beaches in Qatar, the public beach comes right before Al Jassasiya beach with beautiful turquoise waters and soft sand, perfect for a camp or barbecue.

Fuwairit Beach (Hawksbill Turtles Sanctuary)

Jebel Fuwairit Beach

Once one of Qatar’s most popular beaches, Fuwairit Beach on Qatar’s northern coast permanently closed in 2020 to protect the endangered sea turtles during the hatching season. It has become a conservation area and sanctuary for turtles and birds to live and breed.

Nearby the now closed Fuwairit Beach is Jebel Fuwairit Beach, which offers dramatic rock formations, shallow water and is a hot spot for local rock-climbers.

Fuwairit Kite Beach (FKB)

Fuwairit Kite Beach (FKB)

Owned by Qatar Airways and managed by Tapestry Collection by Hilton, FKB is a new one-of-a-kind resort on Qatar’s northern coast, designed around the kitesurfing lifestyle. FKB, which comprises 50 rooms, is a beach destination for kitesurfing as well as a place to stay, dine and enjoy other sports like volleyball, football, padel, yoga and more. Opening times: Daily 10 am – 5 pm. Admission: Day Pass QAR300 per person includes resort sports facilities, and a food and drinks credit of QAR200. Kitesurfing lessons start from QAR700 per person. Contact: 3990 2420, 4030 1555,, Instagram @fkb.tapestrycollection

More beaches listed below.

The main villages and towns in Al Shamal Municipality

Abu Dhalouf 

Abu Dhalouf is a town, which was demarcated in 1988 and is bounded by Madinat ash Shamal to the immediate east, near Al Ruwais. Here, you can find Abu Dhalouf Park and Bahar Mosque, which opened in 1940 and has since been restored by Qatar Museums (QM).

Al Jassasiya

Al Jassasiya Petroglyphs or Rock Carvings
Al Jassasiya is one of a dozen rock-carving sites in Qatar. Rock carvings, so called ‘petroglyphs’, can be found around the coasts of Qatar as well as on Bahrain’s Al Hawar Island. But the greatest number of carvings can be found at this major petroglyph site, north of Doha, on low limestone hills (jebel).

First discovered in 1957, the site was systematically studied in 1974 when 874 carved single figures and compositions were catalogued. These rock carvings consist mainly of cup marks in various arrangements, including rows, rosettes and stars, but also of carvings, such as boats, footprints and enigmatic symbols and signs. It is believed that the cup marks are used for playing ancient board games. One of these board games may have been mancala. The game was known in Qatar as Al Haloosa or Al Huwaila. While it has previously been suggested that the earliest might date back to the Neolithic period, new evidence makes it likely that they are not more than a few hundred years old. To get there, you will need a four‑wheel‑drive, or arrange a tour with a local tour operator.

Al Jassasiya Beach
Near the Al Jassasiya Petroglyphs are the beautiful turquoise waters and soft sand of Al Jassasiya beach, perfect for camping or barbecuing. The water is shallow and may not be suitable for swimming.

Al Jumail

Al Jumail Village

Al Jumail Village
On the northwest coast of Qatar lies the small traditional but ruined village of Al Jumail. It was inhabited by the Al Kubaisi family. It is a favourite weekend destination for local families, since it represents their heritage, history, roots and origin of their ancestors.

The village comprises a set of important traditional buildings, including a small mosque with its minaret still intact. This village dates back to the second half of the 19th century and was inhabited until the beginning of the 20th century.

Al Rakayat

Al Rakayat Fort
A one-hour drive northwest of Doha, you’ll discover the newly restored Al Rakayat Fort. Qatar Museums’ Department of Architectural Conservation completed the restoration project of the historic fort in February 2022. Historical sources place the origins of the fort between the 17th and 19th century. Following its initial restoration in 1988, the archaeological site suffered environmental damage that took a toll on the structural components of the historic building. Restoration works focused on the main structural components of the building, including plaster, flooring, installation of a wooden ceiling, doors, and treatment against pests.

Its unique, local building style and historic integration into the country’s landscape have made Al Rakayat one of the oldest and most important desert forts in Qatar. Named after the Arabic word for ‘well’, Rakayat Fort contains a 5 km-deep freshwater well, from which villagers painstakingly pulled up water. The fort is unusual for its low height (only 3 m). Each corner of the central courtyard features a staircase leading up to one of three rectangular and one cylindrical watchtower, with expansive views of the rocky landscape juxtaposed against the sparkling waters of the Arabian Gulf.

Al Ruwais

Al Ruwais

Al Ruwais, is a port town in the municipality of Al Shamal in Qatar. Located on the northern tip of Qatar, Al Ruwais translates to ‘small head’ in Arabic as the town juts out into the sea relative to the land surrounding it. Before the country’s economic landscape was transformed from oil extraction, Al Ruwais was one of the most important fishing centres on the peninsula.

In Al Ruwais, visit Arsan Café, Al Mina Market and Al Ruwais Port, Al Ruwais Beach, Al Ruwais Mosque and more.

Al Ruwais Beach
At the end of Al Shamal (North) Road and about 110 km from Doha, are some quiet beach areas with coves and inlets, and picnic and shaded spots. The rock formations are very different in this region and wildlife such as dugongs (an aquatic animal) can be seen. Al Shamal Municipality has started implementing a project to provide the beach with shades and solar energy-run lights.

Learn more about Al Ruwais here

Al Zubara

Al Zubara Archaeological Site

A historic coastal town that is now abandoned, Al Zubara is situated approximately 100 km northwest of Doha. Founded in the mid-18th century, the town developed into a centre for pearling and international trade, and rose to become the country’s largest and most important settlement. The success of Al Zubara attracted the attention of other Gulf powers, and after several attacks the town was eventually burned to the ground in 1811. It never fully recovered and was abandoned by the mid-20th century.

Al Zubara is home to the new stunning public installation ‘Shadows Travelling on the Sea of the Day‘ by Icelandic–Danish artist Olafur Eliasson, which comprises 20 mirrored circular shelters, three single rings, and two double rings, with the 10 shelters at the centre forming a pentagram. It is an invitation to resync with the planet and a celebration of everything moving through the desert – animals, plants, human beings, wind, sunlight, air and shimmering heat.

Al Zubara Archaeological Site is Qatar’s largest heritage site. It has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered to be one of the best-preserved examples of an 18–19th century merchant town in the Gulf region. Al Zubara Archaeological Site covers an area of 60 hectares with remains of houses, mosques, large fortified buildings and a market. Opening times: Daily 9 am – 5 pm. Admission: Free.

Sightseeing: Archaeological Sites, Forts and Ruins

Sightseeing: Beaches – Public

Sightseeing: Parks and Recreation Areas

Author: Ola Diab

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