In the desert of the Brouq or Zekreet peninsula, not far from the sea, you’ll find a real ghost town. No one lives in it and yet it is well kept. It is called Film City, and is a purely artificial city. It was built for an Arabic TV series. Close by is another ghost town: Mystery Village which was used in the same TV series. Despite the long drive from Doha (80 km) it is relatively easy to reach with a 4×4 car. Wildlife in the neighborhood (Oryx and ostriches) is a delight for kids and offers great photo opportunities. If you are on a short stopover with Qatar Airways in Doha, and like adventure, this is one of the most picturesque places to discover. You just need to rent a 4×4 or have friends who take you there.
Offroad track to Film City
Explore Film City
The landscape of the Zekreet peninsula has a unique and fascinating geology. Salt flats, plateau rocks and open desert dominate this scenery. There are no sand dunes here, but bizarre rock formations and great views over the blue waters of the gulf. Shortly before reaching film city you will drive up a slope and see the buildings in the distance. The walled city is rather the size of a village, yet it does feature a main gate and city walls with guard towers on the front.
You can park your car in front of the main gate and enter on foot from there. While nothing is authentic, the buildings show how a traditional village in the region might have looked in the past. For the best view continue through to the back and climb the stairs to a covered terrace overlooking the houses and the green oasis in the back.
There is a small shop that sells potato chips and bottled water / soda. If you are looking for the wash-rooms ask the shop clerk for directions.
Photo opportunities, Oryx, Ostriches & spectacular scenery
If the weather is nice, you could walk into the oasis next to Film City. An artificial drinking pond sometimes attracts the herd of Oryx grazing nearby. Warning: Even though Oryx are beautiful photo models, they will defend their young ones and might attack if you get closer than 30-40 meters. Thus keep kids supervised.
Qatar’s own Hollywood
Film City was built for an Arabic TV series called Eyaal Al Theeb (Arabic: Sons of the wolf). It tells the story of a tribe living in the village of Eyaal Al Theeb, which is Film City. The main plot is a fight with the neighboring tribe: Eyaal Al Ghadab (Arabic: sons of anger). The latter tribe is living in a nearby village called mystery village . It features a famous mushroom-shaped rock-pillar with a hut on top. If you are curious about the series, check out one episode on this YouTube video.
Best time to visit Film City, Zekreet
As the area does not get huge numbers of visitors, there is no restriction on when you can go. To be sure that the gates are open, go before the late afternoon. It is advisable though, to start your return trip to Doha at least 1.5 hours before sunset to avoid having to navigate on the graded road in the dark. It is possible to visit film city in summer, as there are walls and some shading. In case the front gate is not open, you might still be able to enter from the left side.
Directions to Film City, Zekreet
From Doha drive West on Dukhan Road until you reach the exit to Cuban Hospital & Zekreet. Follow the brown signs to East-West/West-East for a few kilometers until you reach the village of Zekreet. Just before the end of the tarmac road turn left and immediately right again. Continue until you reach the small minaret of an old mosque in the village (ignore the large newly build mosque). From here follow the path on the google maps below.
The path follows mostly compacted dirt or graded roads. Avoid leaving the main track and never drive over any bushes. Plan 45 minutes for the drive from Zekreet Village to Film City and the same time back.
Offroad track to Film City
Important: The last section is part of Al Reem UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, in many ways a unique area. Littering, hunting, picking flowers, making fires and disturbing wildlife are of course prohibited. Have your camera ready to take many pictures along the way.
What to bring
- Twice the amount of water you would normally take, to be safe
- Hats, sunglasses, sun-screen lotion
- Checked spare tire and working car jack
- A fully charged mobile phone with mobile data, to be able to follow the route