The Gulf Architecture Project

traditional house in Qatar


Traditional architecture is one of the most important aspects of Qatar’s heritage and material culture. These were the historic homes, mosques, markets, and forts around which Qataris lived their daily lives before oil. These buildings offered more than protection from the elements or others, they were the physical manifestation of Qatar’s cultural identity.

While most of the Gulf’s historical buildings were lost long ago, records of them remain in the form of photographs, films, drawings, maps, and descriptions –– to be found in private family archives in Qatar and around the world. The Gulf Architecture Project (GAP), launched in January 2019, is locating and digitizing these collections for the Qatar Digital Library before they are also lost, as part of its mission to preserve Qatar’s heritage for current and future generations.  It is also collecting all known studies on the subject to create a comprehensive reference library.  

Through these collections, the project provides a unique cultural and economic history of Qatar and the Gulf through the story of its traditional architecture, focusing on houses, their associated material culture, social customs, and history from the 1700s to 1960s.  It does this by identifying and recording the varieties of vernacular domestic architecture in Qatar and the Gulf, by mapping their geographical extent, and by examining how the trade and migration flows between Arabia and the wider world shaped Gulf Arab domestic architecture and material culture before oil.  

The project is a collaborative undertaking in partnership with Qatar’s architecture community –– Ibrahim Jaidah (Arab Engineering Bureau), Mohammed Ali Abel (Private Engineering Office), Qatar University’s Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, Qatar’s Urban Planning Authority, and Qatar Museums –– working with the world’s leading research center for the study of traditional Gulf architecture at Liverpool University’s School of Architecture. The results of this project will be of invaluable importance to Qatar’s architecture community.   

To learn more about the Gulf Architecture Conference and Exhibition, click here


  • Digital collection for the Qatar Digital Library
  • Online encyclopedia for the Qatar Digital Library
  • Publications database
  • Publications
  • Conferences
  • Exhibitions
  • Specialist network

Research Team

Qatar National Library: 

  • Dr. James Onley, Director of Historical Research and Partnerships
  • Dr. Haitham Al-Abri, Project Coordinator

School of Architecture, Liverpool University:

  • Professor Soumyen Bandyopadhyay, Project Leader 
  • Dr. Giamila Quattrone, Project Co-Leader
  • Dr. Ataa Alsalloum, Researcher
  • Matina Vrettou, Research Assistant, Digitization 
  • Konstantina Georgiadou, Research Assistant, Metadata Research
  • Claudia Briguglio, Research Assistant
  • Professor Robert Carter, Research Consultant
  • Dr. Ron Hawker, Research Consultant
  • Dr. Martin Goffriller, Research Consultant

Project Webpage, Liverpool University


Research Affiliates

  • Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, Qatar University
  • Arab Engineering Bureau 
  • Architectural Department, Private Engineering Office
  • Qatar Museums
  • Urban Planning Department, Ministry of Municipality and Environment

Advisory Committee

  • Ibrahim Jaidah, CEO and Chief Architect, Arab Engineering Bureau
  • Mohammed Ali Abdulla Abel, Head, Architectural Department, Private Engineering Office
  • Dr. Fodil Fadli, Head, Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, Qatar University
  • Dr. Anna Paolini, Director, UNESCO Regional Office in Doha   
  • Nur Alah Abdelzayed Valdeolmillos, Senior Architect, Capital Projects Directorate, Qatar Foundation
  • Dr. Ali A. Alraouf, Professor of Architecture and Urbanism, and Research Coordinator, Urban Planning Department, Ministry of Municipality and Environment
  • Fatma Al-Sahlawi, Founder, Doha Architecture Forum
  • Prof. Thomas Leisten, Chief Archaeology Officer, Cultural Heritage Division & Director, Heritage Site Protection, Qatar Museums


  • Gulf Architecture Conference & Exhibition, October 2019
  • Traditional Gulf Architecture Week, April 2018

Contact the Project Team

  • Dr. Haitham Al-Abri, Project Coordinator

         email: [email protected]

         Tel.: +974 4454 5645