Al Zubarah is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site
The traditional pearl fishing town, Al Zubarah, located on the north-western coast of Qatar has become the first Qatari site to enter the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The announcement was made at the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee conference in Cambodia. The site was chosen in 2008 to be included in the tentative Heritage List.
Al Zubarah is one of the six new additions to the UNESCO list. Others include: Japan’s Fujisan, Sacred Place and Source of Artistic Inspiration; Portugal’s University of Coimbra—Alta and Sofia; Niger’s Historic Centre of Agadez; Fiji’s Levuka Historical Port Town; and Canada’s Red Bay Basque Whaling Station.
Al Zubarah town is considered as Qatar’s largest archaeological site that was once an important port for pearl fishing and trading during the 18th-19th. A characteristic feature of the town was its large town wall, with towers paced at regular intervals along its length, that encircled the town and its bay in a 2.5km arc from shore to shore.
The settlement faced several attacks from other Gulf powers due to its rising success as a trading hub. It was in 1811 that the town was burned to the ground. The town struggled to fully recover and by the mid 20th century was totally abandoned. Read more about the history of Al Zubarah here.
Al Zubarah’s discovery as an archaeological site was made by a Danish-led team of archaeologists in the 1950s, and was later excavated by Danish and Qatari teams.
Today what’s left at the Al Zubarah Archaeological Site are remains of houses, mosques, large fortified buildings, a market and the Al Zubarah fort, which is a popular tourist attraction of Qatar. The site covers an area of 60 hectares.
Sheikh Hassan bin Mohamed bin Ali al- Thani, vice chairman of the Board of Trustees of Qatar Museums Authority (QMA), was quoted during the UNESCO event saying, “It is very significant to include Al Zubarah in Qatar as part of the UNESCO World Heritage list as a historical site that must be protected. This follows the enormous effort by Qatar in ensuring the preservation and conservation of this historical site, leading it to be internationally recognised for its human legacy.”
Photo courtesy: Isabell Schulz (Al Zubara Uploaded by Aymdaman777) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons