The clay quarry near Umm Bab is in use since the late sixties. It is a bizarre place with a unique vibe and many opportunities to explore. You will find a ton of great photo scenes and picnic sites with a view. Due to occasional muddy spots there is a high chance of getting stuck, therefore be sure to stay on the clear tracks. Getting stuck in clay mud is not a matter to be taken lightly! Stay clear of any pools of water and lose chunks of clay, that might crumble and fall down on you. Most importantly use caution and go ahead at your own calculated risk.
Explore the Clay Quarry of Umm Bab
Years of extraction of clay and limestone created a lunar landscape with hills, valleys, rocky ridges and towers. For reasons unknown to us, little towers of clay with a tree or bush on top remained They look like islands in a barren landscape, and you’ll feel like being on another planet. This place is not developed for visitors and definitely unfit for families with small kids. It is a long drive to get to, but worth the efforts if you want to go really off the beaten path in Qatar. When driving here, we recommend to go only with a well equipped 4×4 car. The tracks are dusty and if your car has low ground clearance they are sometimes impossible to maneuver on. As the quarry is still used for production, expect large trucks to drive around and cross your path. Therefore, park the car only off the main trackson a relatively safe place.
Photo opportunities, surreal landscape & great picnic sites
Look out for truly amazing photo scenes. The landscape is known as the Grand Canyon of Qatar, and not without reason. Due to the high level of erosion after rain, the Umm Bab clay quarry will frequently change its look. The clay does not absorb water and will run off in little streams when it rains. One result of this are deep trenches and occasional mud-slides, after heavy rain. In such wheather conditions, the fine dust in the area will turn into a thick sludge. So if it is rainy, which is more often than you would expect, go with extreme caution if you want to avoid getting stuck.
Geology of Qatar
If you are curious about the geology of Qatar, this quarry is especially interesting. The machines left deep scars in the soil, which exposed different layers of the ground. Compared to the common sandy color of Qatar, the colors here range from different shades of brown to yellow to green to purple and gray. Minerals that are part of layers of clay are responsible for these colors. Clay is the result of decomposition of rocks through weathering processes. Its uses are mainly as building material and for various industries. When firing clay at high temperatures, the clay becomes hard. This is the process of making pottery. Other uses of clay include medicine, cosmetics, paper production, as a chemical filter and as a natural seal against toxic liquids or in the core of dams.
History of Umm Bab
Umm Bab is the name of a town nearby the Clay quarry. For many years it was just a small village. This changed when oil drilling workers started to live just south of Umm Bab in 1948. Once again, in 1965, the town saw an increase in population, when the National Cement Company started its operation nearby. This was due to the rich deposits of limestone and clay in the area. The origin of the name of Umm Bab is not entirely clear, but a number of folkloric beliefs and speculation surround the name. Talk to elderly Qatari and they might be able to tell you stories. It is certain though, that some parents used to tell their kids “Umm Bab” might come and get them, if they do not take a nap in the afternoon.