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A Window to the Past: Discover Old Al Ruwais

A Window to the Past: Discover Old Al Ruwais

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Driving north on Al Shamal Street on a typical weekend, the visitors peters out quickly after passing Al Khor. Those that enterprise additional head both to Ras Laffan for work, or, within the cooler season, to take a dip within the waters of the favored seashores at Fuwairit and Al Ghariya on the east coast. The remaining, maybe guided by extra cultural ambitions, doubtless flip left to pay a go to to the fort and ruins of the World Heritage Website of Al Zubara within the northwest. 

Beginning this winter, the world of Ruwais, the coastal city on the very finish of Al Shamal Street, will turn out to be a brand new and engaging location for many who need to study extra about Qatar’s previous, see some necessary historic buildings and websites, and eventually chill out from the go to over some refreshments, overlooking the picturesque harbour of previous Ruwais. 

Al Ruwais Police Station

The previous police station on the village of Al Ruwais can function each beginning and finish level for a better exploration of the world.

It was inbuilt 1955 and till properly into the 1970s stood remoted a number of hundred metres to the east of the village. Traditionally, police stations have been typically constructed near harbour places to offer safety, however additionally they doubled as customs posts and monitored the boat visitors getting into or leaving city. The police station in Al Ruwais, restored some 5 years in the past by Qatar Museums, shares a standard design with comparable buildings constructed throughout this era all alongside the coast of Qatar: it consists of a sq. guard room with an hooked up remark tower and a staircase that results in an remark platform. Subsequent to the guardroom you’ll be able to nonetheless see a holding cell for arrested perpetrators.

There isn’t a doubt that the police station was constructed to be defended, if the little fortress have been to be attacked: its partitions are strong and thick, and as an alternative of home windows, the constructing has a number of slender, vertical embrasures that allowed these inside to watch the surface and, if crucial, to shoot at attackers.

These days, in fact, it serves fairly a unique function: guests will discover contained in the guardroom an exhibition with objects excavated on the close by 16th and 17th century CE website of Al Ruwayda (see under). Chinese language porcelain, agate and carnelian beads introduced in from Afghanistan, divers weights, cooking pots and bones inform the story of commerce and pearling and mirror the straightforward and onerous, every day lifetime of the individuals in Al Ruwais space lots of of years in the past.

As well as, one of many police station’s annex buildings has now been transformed right into a café that serves refreshments and native delicacies within the shade of the timber and on a garden that overlooks the bay. The entrepreneur, a woman from Al Ruwais, specialises in desserts and invitations guests to discover the native delicacies on this new location. Ample parking is out there on-site.

The Fish Traps of Qatar

Sitting comfortably with a tea or espresso in hand in entrance of the police station and searching on the shallow, turquoise water of the Gulf permits guests to find one other hanging however typically missed function of Qatar’s historical past with out shifting a limb: the lengthy, curved, half-submerged partitions of the maskar or fish traps, a splendid instance of how the individuals right here tailored to the marine setting. 

These fish traps labored as a result of Qatar’s coasts, notably within the north, are very shallow and day by day tides are very in depth. Inside a few hours, giant tidal areas might be both totally dry or utterly flooded. Curvilinear dry stone partitions have been constructed as limitations to lure fish utilizing the rise and fall of the tides. Fish would swim in the direction of the shore in the course of the excessive tide and can be trapped behind these limitations whereas the tide ebbed. At low tide, the fish simply wanted to be collected.

These intertidal fish-traps could be present in dense clusters throughout Qatar’s coasts reaching from Al Wakra to Zekreet. They are often V-shaped, semi-circular, rectangular or simply type a wall blocking a slender strait. The well-preserved examples in entrance of the Ruwais Police Station are V-shaped and semi-circular. 

Whereas the maskar-type fish-trap has all the time been a quite common aspect of fishery in Qatar, it’s barely recognized in different Gulf nations. Just a few examples may be discovered on a number of the western islands of the UAE which underlines the truth that any such fish-trap is a very Qatari custom. 

Al Ruwais Mosque

In strolling distance, just a few hundred metres to the west and in addition proper on the water’s edge stands the previous foremost mosque of Al Ruwais. It was based in all probability on the finish of the 17th century CE and holds a outstanding place within the nation’s historical past because the oldest standing mosque within the State of Qatar. 

Naturally, resulting from its lengthy historical past, the mosque underwent a number of phases of development, destruction, rebuilding and alterations, and the present mosque was constructed solely within the 1940s by Ezzedine bin Ahmed bin Kaseb Al Rifai Al Sada on the ruins of an older one. However, after the 1970s, this mosque was deserted in favour of latest and trendy mosques outfitted with air-conditioning and different amenities. 

The constructing was uncared for for greater than 20 years and suffered from harsh environmental circumstances, which resulted in harmful cracks alongside the partitions, the collapse of parts of the roof as a consequence of humidity and the infiltration of seawater into the mosque’s foundations. Regardless of all this injury, the mosque had preserved its previous character and authenticity, particularly an unusually deep prayer area of interest, virtually within the type of an alcove. Qatar Museums launched a undertaking to rescue this necessary monument in 2013, ending it two years in the past.  

Previous to its conservation, Qatar Museums’ Division of Archaeology carried out excavations in an effort to retrieve details about the circumstances of the mosque’s foundations, in addition to to make clear earlier phases of the constructing and the location typically. The staff excavated in a number of spots each outdoors the mosque and contained in the constructing, and located proof for the occupation of this spot that went again even earlier than the 17th century CE.

Initially, the mosque was deliberate to develop into a cultural centre, however the native inhabitants on this neighbourhood embraced the newly restored constructing and is utilizing it now as its common prayer area. Nevertheless, the imam additionally welcomes non-Muslim guests and permits them to go to this venerable constructing outdoors of normal prayer occasions, so long as they observe the suitable gown code and behavior in such a spot. 

Ras bu Omran

If one passes the fashionable harbour of Al Ruwais and follows the shoreline heading west for about 1 km, one arrives originally of a brand new strolling path that traces the Ras bu Omran, a peninsula which shields Al Ruwais harbour from easterly winds. 

This corniche was constructed by the Public Works Authority (Ashghal) over the course of 2018 and is simply now starting to draw the primary promenaders who can take pleasure in unencumbered views of the ocean and sit underneath the various shaded areas. 

Because it occurs so typically throughout development in Qatar in seemingly utterly empty tracts, traces of long-forgotten inhabitants have been unearthed right here as properly. Archaeologists of Qatar Museums’ Division of Cultural Heritage discovered right here giant quantities of pre-modern objects akin to pottery and porcelain shards, bones, shells and glass bangle fragments that have been unfold throughout an space of two.6 hectares. 

An emergency excavation delivered to mild some giant buildings, considered one of which functioned, to guage from its three massive clay ovens, with certainty as a kitchen that presumably fed the hungry inhabitants of Ras bu Omran some 250 years in the past. These excavations confirmed the good archaeological potential of Ras bu Omran and shall be continued within the close to future, hopefully including to the situation’s attractiveness.

The Ruins of Al Ruwayda

Following the coastal street to Al Zubara, solely 5 km to the west of Al Ruwais (and its trendy extension Al Shamal) lies the final vacation spot of this tour: the wreck of Al Ruwayda (comply with signal to the suitable), one of many quite a few historic settlements which line the coast from Al Ruwais to Al Zubara and past. 

Al Ruwayda stands out from the opposite settlements that have been all related to the pearl fishing business in the course of the late 1700s and the 1800s, as a result of its origins may be traced to the 1600’s and probably even a lot additional to the early medieval interval. 

The importance of the location was recognised already through the first complete archaeological research of Qatar carried out by French archaeologists within the early 1970s. Again then, students famous the presence of colourfully glazed ceramics that would clearly be dated to the 10th century CE. 

The location is definitely sooner than nearly all of all the opposite settlements within the space and can also be uncommon for its monumental measurement overlaying 90 hectares and stretching for greater than 2 km alongside the seashore. The stays on the website comprise a collection of low undulating mounds with a big fortress on the centre. 

Excavation and evaluation of the fort point out that it was inbuilt three phases. The primary comprised a small sq. fort with a big spherical tower on the northwest nook overlooking the ocean and doubtless courting from the 1600s or earlier. Most apparently, this era coincides precisely with the enlargement of the Portuguese empire which has left a rating of forts and fortresses in Oman, the UAE and Iran. 

Through the second part the small fort was included into a big (150 x 130 m) rectangular enclosure strengthened by rectangular towers. A big sunken space on the centre of the enclosure in all probability functioned as a backyard which was provided with recent water by a big nicely. Sooner or later through the late 1700s the massive enclosure was dismantled and the stones used to make a smaller enclosure with a lot thicker partitions. The explanations for this discount in measurement are unknown however the truth that the partitions have been doubled in thickness suggests worry of an assault.

Along with the fortress the stays of a mosque and a warehouse have been found and may be simply noticed if one walks from the fort in the direction of the seashore. The constructing closest to the ocean is a small mosque full with a courtyard, prayer corridor and the bottom of a minaret. Within the west wall of the prayer corridor is a deep concave area of interest or mihrab indicating the course of Mecca for the Muslim prayer. 

There’s additionally a big rectangular block subsequent to the mihrab and should have served because the minbar or pulpit for the prayer chief. One of the crucial fascinating finds of the excavation was the invention of an earlier mosque with a unique orientation beneath the courtyard and the prayer corridor of the later mosque. Modifications within the orientation of mosques over time are widespread and mirror altering perceptions and in some instances elevated accuracy within the strategies for figuring out the qibla (course in the direction of Mecca).  

For extra details about these and different settlement websites in Qatar beneath the Cultural Heritage programme, go to qm.org.qa.


Writer: Sarah Palmer

This function has been written with the help of Dr Thomas Leisten, Chief Cultural Heritage Officer, Division of Cultural Heritage at Qatar Museums.

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