I have been working and staying in Qatar for more than five years now and I am still impressed with the culture here.
It may be similar to other countries in the Eastern part of the Arab region but I feel the country welcomes a lot of nationalities to help build their infrastructure and image to the world.
They even try their best to relax the rules when it comes to promoting Qatar as one of the most sought-after tourist destinations for travellers. Being mostly in the city where the main population lives and works, we tend to forget that there are good places to visit outside Doha whether you are a local resident of the country or a tourist.
For people who already know and have visited the places on the outskirts of Doha, you probably know what I am talking about and let us agree here.
However, not all places will be iconic in terms of photo opportunity or noteworthy in terms of facts. To give you a better idea, I have selected some places which in my opinion are truly iconic when you visit Qatar. Our starting point will be Hamad International Airport which will be your gateway to Qatar. Let me provide an estimated travel time to each location from the airport.
(Part II of the series will be published tomorrow)
— Text and photos by Ralph Kester
Al Jumail Fishing Village Ruins: Al Jumail is an abandoned village located in the north-east of Qatar. This will have a similar travel time from the airport if you are going to Al Zubarah Fort as it is just nearby. So might as well visit both places at the same time. You may also need to go off-road to reach the three abandoned fishing villages of Al Areesh, Al Kuwair and Al Jemail. It is advisable to bring a four-wheel drive car as the roads are unpaved and you might encounter soft sand. For now, we were able to reach Al Jemail Fisherman’s village easily.
These villages were officially built in the 19th century but I found out that it was also abandoned in the 1970s. As part of Qatar Museums and Qatar Tourism Authority initiative, they aimed to restore and transform the village into an outdoor heritage site open to the public and attract more tourists as well. Although dubbed as Qatar’s ghost town, the name comes from the word “jameel” which means “beautiful” in Arabic. This refers to the trees that grow in the area. The houses that you can see in the picture were built to have thick walls to keep the heat out. It consists of overlapping coral rock and limestone.
Mystery Village Ruins in Zekreet: Don’t forget to bring food and drinks because you are in for a long drive. Also, try to bring a four-wheel drive car as you have soft sand in the area. Zekreet is a village in north-western Qatar near Dukhan.
Almost a two-hour drive from the airport but trust me you will find breathtaking views in this area. You might also find an oryx or ostrich on your way to the mystery village. Zekreet was built in the 1940s after oil operations started in Qatar. This included the construction of a harbour for oil equipment and several small houses which eventually became a village.
The name of the village is derived from the Arabic word “zikra” which means “memories”. By driving around and exploring the area, you will find mushroom-looking formations which are made of limestone.
Over a period of time, heavy winds and sands have created this mushroom-shaped plateaus which you can perfectly add to your photo opportunity scenes.
Before going down the mystery village, try to stop by up on the hills for a spectacular view of the area with so much land untouched and the Zekreet beach at a distance. From here you can see several stone huts which they actually dubbed as mystery village.
Why mystery village? We don’t really know but we were told this was part of a television show which was shot at Film City. Some folks say it is so called because you don’t normally see a village in these locations and that is why they called it that.
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