Before Qatar was the glittering country we see today, the country was a small nation with a rich and diverse past. If you are a history buff, then Qatar is a great destination for you. The tiny Gulf nation has over 7,500 years of history that can be seen in every nook and cranny of the country.
Brief history of Qatar
Having been inhabited for at least 7,500 years, Qatar has risen from a humble fishing and pearl diving area to one of the richest countries in the world. Qatar’s history dates as far back to 4500 B.C. Unfortunately, there are not many records of it and very few archaeological excavations. The area was inhabited by mostly nomadic Bedouin tribes and a few fishing villages. By the 14th century, Qatar was under the Abbasid rule and then the Ottomans during the 16th century. During World War 2, Qatar was under British Protectorate. By the mid 19th century, the Al Thani family came to power and strengthened Qatar as a nation. In the 1930s and 40s, oil was discovered in Qatar which made the country rich. In 1971, Qatar declared itself as an independent country.
Historical sites you need to visit in Qatar
Al Zubarah Archaeological site
Al Zubarah is a 20th-century fishing town and Qatar’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the best-preserved Gulf towns from the 18th-20th century. The impressive city walls still stand and overlook the ruins of residential houses, markets, and mosques. Once regarded as the most important fishing and merchant town, the city was abandoned during the early 20th century.
Standing tall looking over the surrounding landscape is the imposing limestone fort, Barzan Towers. Located around 20km north of Doha, the fort stands tall measuring in at 16 meters giving it the name Barzan which means ‘High Place’ in Arabic. Built between the 19th and 20th centuries, the fort was once used as a lookout and observatory to keep track of the moon during the Holy Month of Ramadan. Just behind the fort is a mini oasis full of palm trees and a brook.
Al Koot Fort
In the heart of Doha, lies a massive and well-preserved fort, the Al Koot Fort. It is one of the oldest forts in Qatar and was built by the Ottomans in the 1800s to serves a police station and then a jail. Nowadays, it’s a museum housing a variety of artifacts including traditional Qatari handicrafts, weapons, art, and old photographs.
Ruwayda is a historic town and the largest archeological site in Qatar extending over 2.5km. Located a 2-hour drive north from Doha, the town dates back to the 1500s. A variety of ruins have been excavated including two mosques, a large fort (the largest in Qatar), a walled tomb, cemeteries, and even ruins of a walled garden in the center of the town.
Al Jassasiyah Rock Carvings
In the North-east of Qatar is a unique and mysterious place that has left historians baffled, the Al Jassasiyah Rock Carvings. In 1956, a series of around 900 rock carvings were discovered here. These rock carvings or petroglyphs are the most impressive ones found anywhere in Qatar. Carvings of fish, dhows, scorpions, as well as mysterious holes resembling modern-day cup holders, have been found here.
The Pearl Monument
The Pearl Monument, though not necessarily a historical site, is a must-visit when in Qatar. The giant oyster and pearl sculpture is a homage to Qatar’s humble past as a pearl fishing nation. Located on the famous Doha Corniche, the Pearl Monument is a monument of great pride for the people of Qatar.
If you want to read more about Qatar, check out this guide to exploring Qatar.