Looking for a place to unplug and get away from the hustle and bustle of city life? Purple Island - a beautiful natural gem in Qatar will satisfy this longing quite well. Located in the municipality of Al Khor on the northeast coast of Qatar - the island is also known as Jazirat bin Ghanim or Al Khor Island.
Despite its name, Purple Island is surprisingly green and a perfect destination for nature lovers where you will appreciate spotting fish, crabs, plants and blooms, fossils, and wildlife as you take a stroll along the salt marshes. Scroll all the way down to learn more about this beautiful place.
The island was probably never permanently inhabited but visited for specific reasons at different periods. According to the Qatar Museum, it was a place of transit, a temporary campsite for trade with Bahrain and was used by fishermen or pearl divers as early as the beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE. Later though, the island was a production site for red-purple dye from shellfish during the Kassite Period. It was a camp for pearling expeditions during the Sassanian Period and a fishing outpost in the Late Islamic Period.
The Purple Island, was a prominent site for dye production, particularly purple dye, hence the name of the island! Excavations have revealed a midden (shell heap) containing the remains of around 2.9 million individual crushed shells of the sea snail thais savignyi, along with large ceramic vats that were probably used to macerate the crushed molluscs. This type of shellfish lives under a rock in the intertidal basin and produces a red to dark-red dye.
The island is located about 50 km north of Doha and is an hour's journey from Doha. It's accessible even by small cars like sedans. If you want to go there, drive north to Al Khor via Shamal Highway and turn right before Al Meera Dhakira. Drive straight then turn right in the unpaved road to reach the Purple Island parking area. Click here for Google Maps location. Once you reach the place, you will find a big open space and you have to park at the edge of the causeway.
The island offers an ideal spot for nature lovers for strolling and exploring. Mangrove forest in shallow lagoons is one of the points of interest on the island. Besides this, you will be pleased to see small fish and crabs, and a number of birds. The main landmark of this place is the wooden bridge that locates within the mangroves and above the water channels which leads to some hills and purple island beach. You will feel adventurous while passing the canal by the wooden walking way.
Purple Island is not a flat sand island; you will notice several low limestone cliffs throughout the islands. While walking, do not walk on bare feet as there are many crab wholes on the ground.
Have you visited this beautiful natural wonder in Qatar? Do let us know in the comments sections below. Also, don't forget to like and share this article. You know it keeps us going!
Cover photo credit: Fatema Amin Ruma
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