Umm Bab Clay Quarry – Umm Bab, Qatar - Atlas Obscura
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Umm Bab, Qatar

Umm Bab Clay Quarry

This unconventionally beautiful landscape possesses stunning scenery you won't easily forget. 

Umm Bab clay quarry may not be conventionally beautiful, but it possesses stunning scenery that is not forgotten easily. After decades of digging, the quarry has become a largely barren landscape with deep canals and high ridges.

Umm Bab is primarily known for its beach, but it’s also home to a historic business. Back in 1965, Qatar National Cement Company started its operations here, and to date, it’s still operational.

The location was not randomly chosen. Umm Bab was selected due to its large and easily accessible quantities of limestone and clay.

About 12 miles (20 kilometers) south of the settlement of Umm Bab is the clay quarry. Clay excavation started in the 1960s, and it’s also still ongoing.

Strangely, the excavator-operators began digging around some trees. This seemingly arbitrary action was then replicated during the next phase of the excavation, and so on. After decades, the result is the presence of 20-to-30-foot-tall towers of clay, with solitary spindly trees sitting at the very tops.

The other prominent feature of the quarry is the mounds of discarded soil piled up in neat, straight rows. Strong wind and sandstorms have turned these mounds into perfectly rounded hills surrounded by vast expanses of flatland.

Know Before You Go

As no public transport comes to the quarry, you’ll need your own mode of transportation, preferably a sturdy 4x4. Please note that the quarry is operational, and there is a constant flow of trucks coming, loading, and leaving. There are no paved roads or signs, and size matters. Driving a private vehicle, it’s your responsibility to get out of the trucks’ way. The terrain can be treacherous, especially when wet. Avoid all puddles, which can easily turn into quicksand under pressure exercised by a vehicle. Parts of the quarry have guarded post-blocks that may or may not grant access to non-authorized people. To avoid trucks, the best bet is to visit the quarry on Friday mornings, which also means that you’ll be alone, should anything go wrong with your vehicle.

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