Bir Zekreet – Zekreet, Qatar - Atlas Obscura

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Bir Zekreet

Zekreet, Qatar

Some of the ancient-looking huts among these strange rock formations aren't ancient at all, but built as part of a movie set. 


Bir Zekreet (also known as Brouq Peninsula) is a strip of land on the West Coast of Qatar. The peninsula is, by and large, uninhabited, with the exception of a small village, a Coast Guard Post, an ostrich farm, and a fort called “Film City,” purposely built for movie production. Of a more transient nature, camel and goat herders can also be encountered in the area.

The most prominent feature of Bir Zekreet’s landscape is the presence of large escarpments, with pillars and mushroom-like limestone formations. This unusual geology is the result of strong winds blowing away softer sedimentary rock, leaving behind just the harder limestone skeleton exposed.

The region is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, with a special interest in oryx and gazelles. Research in the reserve includes the use of saline water for irrigation, the creation of grazing grounds, camel farming, and low-impact tourism.

North of Film City, and part of the locations created for production, is a particularly photogenic escarpment with a handful of stone huts, one of which is built on top of a stand-alone natural pillar. Although they look like it, none of these little buildings are ancient. But they do make for good, quirky photo opportunities.

Know Before You Go

Bir Zekreet is on the west coast of Qatar, about 60 miles northwest of Doha. There is no public transportation to get there, so the best and safest way is with a guide, a 4x4 vehicle and a healthy amount of food and water. Best if NOT visited after a rain fall, as mud can make the trip particularly hazardous. Note that the film set "fort" is not the ancient 9th century Murwab Fort (Zekreet Fort), which is not far. The truly ancient fort is a protected site, and cannot be accessed without special permissions and archaeological guides.

The northern part of Bir Zekreet has been closed off since 2021.  This is the part with Film City, the stone huts, oryx and ostriches.  Recently (2024), an upscale hotel has opened inside this closed-off area.  Only guests of this hotel are currently granted access to this part of Bir Zekreet.  

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