Fort Al Zubarah

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Welcome to Fort Al Zubarah, Qatar, 2013

Fort Al Zubarah located close to the north west coast of Qatar is a hark back to Qatar’s past. It lies close to the settlement Zubarah, which is Qatar’s first UNESCO World Heritage site. The link to UNESCO’s site is here. I visited the fort for the seventh time in five years yesterday. I still remember the first time I visited the fort. I drove with my friend and the new road was yet to be laid. It took an hour of solid back-breaking drive. The North Road was one of the oldest roads in Qatar and had seen better days. Today, the drive is silky smooth as the North Road has been re-laid as a four lane highway with adequate runoff and numerous radars. I also remember the hospitality of the old Pakistani keeper of the site who used to make sweet tea for visitors to lounge in his ‘majlis’.

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I visited the fort with my friend Abdulla. It was the day after the National Day and the roads were quiet, after we crossed the city limits that is. A glorious winter sun was rising on our right. It is a great advantage to have someone drive.

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It was the day after National Day and all government offices were closed. The fort was still open and final touches to a three-year-long renovation were still being applied. And it was not quite 7 AM! The sun was out and bathing the whole place in a beautiful golden light. We had the fort to ourselves except for the security details and the archaeologists working on renovation.

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The inner pillars of the fort had been reworked giving the place a Louvre-like effect. It is like having the I M Pei built glass pyramid right in the middle of Gothic behemoths. The courtyard of Zubarah is like a geometry box surrounded by the traditional fort architecture.

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The stepping stone, Fort Zubarah, Qatar, 2013

Remnants of the makeshift improvisations done by the archaeological team were still very much in place. It was a great opportunity to see, first-hand, the workings of renovation.

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Although it is open, the Fort is not quite ready for visits yet. Some bits of renovation is yet to be completed.

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Two-eyed Monster, Fort Zubarah, Qatar, 2013

A visit to a site in Qatar is not quite complete without the modern-day desert carrier, the omnipresent SUV!

The ‘big dig’ is happening right behind the fort to excavate the sunken town of Zubarah. Satellite images show a rather large settlement and looks very promising as an attraction. It is where the oldest heritage of Qatar lies and I am looking forward to the day it opens, to visit and photograph.

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String of Pearls, Qatar, 2013

On the way back we were dazzled by a line of silvery clouds trying to race us. They were all quickly disbursed by the blustery winds.

All images on this post were shot with my Leica M-E using the Zeiss Planar 50/2. It is a remarkable combination to shoot. Sharp, contrasty, great color, and a relatively light-weight kit that doesn’t cease to amaze me every time I use it.

Thanks to Jay for the camera.

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