Many a times we have discussed about the places that we can visit in and around Doha, but a very unique location, within a stone’s throw distance from the city, has found very little mention. We are talking about Qatar’s very own ‘Purple Island’ or Jazirat bin Ghannam (Jazirat is the Arabic word for island). Not a part of the tourist map, the beauty of this island is a well kept secret.
Located near Al Khor, Purple Island is 50kms north of Doha and is an hour’s drive from the capital. The Purple Island is perfect for spending a weekend afternoon with your family and the lush green mangroves and the beach nearby is a welcome break from the bustling city life.
The mangroves are sure the main attraction of the island but one can also find a wide variety of birds, fishes and even spot crabs around the area. If you plan to go there in the winter months you can spot some unique birds that have migrated to Qatar, before continuing their flight further.
Apart from the obvious natural beauty of the Island, there is an interesting and really old history that the island has. There were four main periods of occupation on the island, dating from as early as c. 2000 BC to as late as 1900 AD.
A raised pathway connects the island to the mainland and after parking your car, you have to set out on foot from there. Guarded by mangroves on both sides the walk is an excellent natural trail. What adds to the fun and adventure to the walk are the a few small breaks in the path which involve having you to jump down a level. On a couple of occasions, you will have to cross through water, either by wading or attempting the stepping stones act.
The island is a perfect spot for a sit down family picnic by the crystal clear waters and enjoy the tranquil surroundings, so do not forget your picnic basket. The kids can continue to explore by climbing on rocks and collecting rocks and sea shells. This trip can satisfy your need for adventure and solitude at the same time.
How did the Island get its name?
The obvious guess is that the island was named after the purple hued flowers that grow in the marshy island. In reality, the island owes its name to the ancient purple dye producing site that was situated there more than 3,000 years ago! A special purple dye was produced from a species of sea snail. This extremely rare dye was used for coloring the clothes worn by the ruling class and elite.
How to get there
• Drive to Al Khor.
• Go through Al Khor town.
• Continue to Al Thakhira, go past the turning for Al Khor Hospital and go past the turning for Al Khor Community.
• After roughly 2.5km from the RasGas/Industrial Area roundabout, turn right and continue for around 5km.
• Pass the intersection on your left and continue for 200m. Look out for a small sign for the Flower Each Spring camp and after reaching this sign, turn onto the dirt track.
• Follow the firm and obvious dirt track. As you approach the pathway leading to the island, you will see a large building on your left.
• After approximately 2km, you will see the start of the raised pathway on your right.
Visit this natural beauty which shines in contrast to the glamorous and modern city of Doha. The blue sea, purple bushes and the golden desert looks like a painting all put together in a perfect setting for you to enjoy a family day out.
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