Qatar is located in Western Asia, occupying the small QatarPeninsula on the northeasterly coast of the much larger Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its territory surrounded by the Persian Gulf. A strait of the Persian Gulf separates Qatar from the nearby island state of Bahrain.
Qatar has been ruled as an absolute and hereditary emirate by the Al Thani family since the mid-19th century. Formerly a British protectorate noted mainly for pearl hunting, it became independent in 1971. Since then, it has become one of the region's wealthiest states due to its enormous oil and natural gasrevenues. In 1995, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani became Emir when he seized power from his father, Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, in a peaceful coup d'état. The most important positions in Qatar are held by the members of the Al Thani family, or close confidants of the al-Thani family. Beginning in 1992, Qatar has built intimate military ties with the United States, and is now the location of U.S. Central Command’s Forward Headquarters and the Combined Air Operations Center.
Qatar has the world's highest GDP per capita and proven reserves of oil and natural gas. Qatar tops the list of the world's richest countries by Forbes. In 2010, Qatar had the world's highest GDP per capita, while the economy grew by 19%, the fastest in the world. The main drivers for this rapid growth are attributed to ongoing increases in production and exports of liquefied natural gas, oil, petrochemicals, and related industries. Qatar has the second-highest human development in the Arab World after the United Arab Emirates. In 2009, Qatar was the United States’ fifth-largest export market in the Middle East, trailing behind the U.A.E., Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.
With a small citizen population of fewer than 2,500,000 people, the Qatar workforce comprises expatriates from other Arab nations (20% of population), the Indian subcontinent (India 20%, Nepal 13%, Pakistan 7%, Sri Lanka 5%), Southeast Asia (Philippines 10%), and other countries (5%). Qatar has attracted an estimated $100 billion in investment, with approximately $60 to $70 billion coming from the United States in the energy sector. It is estimated that Qatar will invest over $120 billion in the energy sector in the next ten years.
The name may derive from Qatara, believed to refer to the Qatari town of Zubara, an important trading port and town in the region in ancient times. Another possibility is that it comes from the Persian word Gwadar which means port. There are similar places in the region with that name, such as Gwadar in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Human habitation of the Qatar Peninsula dates as far back as 50,000 years when small groups of inhabitants built coastal encampments, settlements, and sites for working flint that were dated to be from the Neolithic era, according to archaeological evidence.
Al Ubaidi Period
Recent discoveries in Wadi Debay’an, a site located a few kilometers south of Zubarah, indicate human presence from 7,500 years ago. Amongst the findings were a wall built of stone, possibly used as a fish trap. Discovery of a 6th millennium BC site at Shagra, in southeastern Qatar revealed the key role the sea (the Persian Gulf) played in the lives of Shagra’s inhabitants. Excavations at Al Khor in northeastern Qatar, Bir Zekrit and Ras Abaruk, and the discovery there of pottery, flint, flint-scraper tools, and painted ceramic vessels indicates Qatar’s connection with the Al-Ubaid civilisation, which flourished in the land between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers in present-day Iraq during the period of 5th–4th millennium BC. It is thought that Mesopotamian fisherman working the rich fishing banks off the Arabian coast visited local settlements, bringing pottery with them and exchanging it for fresh meat in an improvised barter-based trade system. The first potsherds of the Ubaid Mesopotamia were found by a Danish expedition in Al Da'asa in 1961, but not identified until later. A second expedition was held in 1973–74 led by Beatrice De Cardi.Contact between the people of Mesopotamia and the eastern Arabian coast (including Qatar) continued over centuries.
In the early 3rd millennium, Sumerians settled on Tarut Island, off the Saudi coast, approximately 100 kilometers north-west of Qatar. Later, from 2450–1700 BC, Dilmun, a peaceful trading civilization, was centered in Bahrain. Evidence that Qatar was part of the complex trading network is found from the presence of Barbar pottery, a product of the Dilmun civilization, in Ras Abrouk.
Qatar then emerged as one of the richest places in the Persian Gulf, with regard to the trade and commerce between the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC. This period witnessed the spread of the Bronze Age cultures and civilizations from Mesopotamia to the IndusValley settlements of India. Trade between Mesopotamia and Indus Valley was channeled through the Persian Gulf, with the western coast of Qatar playing a vital role in the transshipment of the commercial goods as the discovery of fragments of Barbar pottery in Ras Abaruk reveals it. Qatar also attracted seasonal migrants during the period of the Bronze Age.
Kassite of the Zagros Mountains, which is located in the province of Lorestan, assumed power in Babylonia after the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire after circa 1531 BC to circa 1155 BC and spread their influence throughout the Persian Gulf region including a small island on the bay of Al Khor in the north of Doha. Ceramics, which were of Kassite origin that were unearthened while excavating in Al Khor for archaeological evidences, clearly indicate the close links between Qatar and Babylonia during this period.
The Greco-Roman trade between Europe and India was carried on via the Persian Gulf during 140 BC. Archaeological evidence found in Qatar suggests the Greek and Roman influences in the peninsula, particularly at Ras Abaruk, included stone structures, such as dwellings, cairns, hearths and low mounds containing large quantities of fish bones. Excavation of the dwelling revealed two chambers; linked by a cross-wall, with a third room open to the sea. Ras Abaruk was a temporary fishing station where periodic landing were made to dry fish during this period. In fact, pearls and dried fish were the major items for exportation from Qatar during the Greco-Roman period.
The whole Persian Gulf region afterwards emerged as the most important trade centre, linking between the West and the East, during the time of the Sassanid Persian Empire in the 3rd century AD. Cargoes of copper, spices, sandalwood, teak, blackwood, etc., arriving from the East were exchanged for shipments of purple dye, clothing, pearls, dates, gold and silver. Qatar played a pre-eminent role in that commercial activity contributing at least two of these commodities to the Sassanid trade – purple dye and precious pearls.
Although the peninsula land mass that makes up Qatar has sustained humans for thousands of years, for the bulk of its history, the arid climate fostered only short-term settlements by Nomadic tribes.
Islam was spread in the entire Arabian region by the end of the 7th century resulting in the Islamization of the native Arabian pagans. With the spread of Islam in Qatar, the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, sent his first military envoy, Al Ala Al-Hadrami, to Al-Mundhir Ibn Sawa Al-Tamimi, the ruler of Bahrain (which extended from the coast of Kuwait to the south of Qatar, including Al-Hasa and Bahrain Islands), in the year 628, inviting him to accept Islam as he had invited other kingdoms and empires of his time such as Byzantium and Persia. Mundhir, in response to Muhammad, announced his acceptance of Islam, and the inhabitants of Qatar became Muslim, heralding the beginning of the Islamic era in Qatar. However, it is likely that some settled populations in Qatar did not instantaneously convert. An important seventh-century saint and mystic, named Isaac of Qatar, became a leader in the Syrian church.
Umayyad and the Abbasid Period
During the Umayyad and the Abbasid rules in Damascus and Baghdad respectively, there was further growth of trade and commerce in Qatar. Yaqut Al Hamawi, an Arab historian and biographer, who died in 1229, considered Qatar as a village and famous for camel and horse breeding centre during the Umayyad period. During the ascendancy of the Abbasid in Baghdad, the pearling industry in the rich waters around Qatar developed considerably and the demand for Qatari pearl increased in the East, which extended as far as China. With the expansion of the mercantile activities on the coasts of Qatar, settlements began to grow on the north of Qatar, particularly at Murwab in the Yoghbi area between Zubarah and Umm el-Ma with more than 100 small stone built houses.
At the beginning of the 16th century, the Portuguese Empire enhanced their power and influence over the Persian Gulf of the Arabian Peninsula after establishing hold over the Strait of Hormuz. The Portuguese Empire settled its commercial relations with many Gulf harbors including Qatar, where it exported gold, silver, silk textiles, Dianthus, all kinds of pearls, amber and horses.
Bani Khalid Period
The Bani Khalid, which established their hold over Eastern Arabia, extended their power in the area from Qatar to Kuwait in the first half of the 18th century. Zubarah, which already emerged as one of the most salient sea ports in the Persian Gulf in view of the increased exportation of pearls to the different parts of the world, became the headquarters of the Bani Khalid administration in Qatar and the principal transit port for their Eastern and the Central Arabian territories. The importations made from Surat of India to the port of Zubarah were Surat blue and other piece goods, cambay, chauders, shawls, bamboo, coffee, sugar, pepper, spices, iron, tin, oil, ghee, rice, etc. A part of these importations was retained at Zubarah for the consumption there and its immediate vicinities and the remainder were conveyed by means of camels to Dariyah in Nejd and to Al Hasa including the other districts under the jurisdiction of Bani Khalid.
Under Ottoman rule (1871-1916)
Qatar did not emerge as a separate political entity until the mid-19th century when the British recognized Sheikh Mohamed bin Thani. The recognition came in the aftermath of the maritime Qatari–Bahraini War of 1867–1868, prior to which the British saw Qatar as a Bahraini dependency of al-Khalifa.
Under military and political pressure from the Governor of the Ottoman province of Baghdad, Midhat Pasha, the The Al-Thani shaykhs in Qatar submitted to Ottoman rule in 1871. By the end of that year, Ottoman rule extended from Kuwait to Qatar.The Ottoman government imposed reformist (Tanzimat) measures concerning taxation and land registration to fully integrate these areas into the empire.
In March 1893, at the Battle of Wajbah (10 miles west of Doha), Shaikh Jassim defeated the Ottomans and forced a treaty that would later form the basis of Qatar emerging as a separate country.
The British initially sought out Qatar and the Persian Gulf as an intermediary vantage point en route to their colonial interests in India; although, the discovery of petroleum and other hydrocarbons in the early 20th century would reinvigorate their interest. During the 19th century, the time of Britain’s formative ventures into the region, the Al Khalifa clan reigned over the northern Qatari peninsula from the nearby island of Bahrain to the west.
Although Qatar had the legal status of a dependency, resentment festered against the Bahraini Al Khalifas along the eastern seaboard of the Qatari peninsula. In 1867 the Al Khalifas launched a successful effort to crush the Qatari rebels, sending a massive naval force to Al Wakrah. However, the Bahraini aggression was in violation of the 1820Anglo-Bahraini Treaty. The diplomatic response of the British to this violation set into motion the political forces that would eventuate in the founding of the state of Qatar on 18 December 1878 (for this reason, the date of 18 December is celebrated each year as the Qatar National Day). In addition to censuring Bahrain for its breach of agreement, the British Protectorate (per Colonel Lewis Pelly) asked to negotiate with a representative from Qatar.
The request carried with it a tacit recognition of Qatar’s status as distinct from Bahrain. The Qataris chose as their negotiator the entrepreneur and long-time resident of Doha, Muhammed bin Thani. The Al Thanis had taken relatively little part in Persian Gulf politics, but the diplomatic foray ensured their participation in the movement towards independence and their hegemony as the future ruling family, a dynasty that continues to this day. The results of the negotiations left the nation with a new-found sense of political identity, although it did not gain official standing as a British protectorate until 1916.
Under British rule (1916-1971)
The reach of the British Empire diminished after World War II, especially following Indian independence in 1947. Pressure for a British withdrawal from the Arab emirates in the Persian Gulf increased during the 1950s, and the British welcomed Kuwait’s declaration of independence in 1961. When Britain officially announced in 1968 that it would disengage politically (though not economically) from the Persian Gulf in three years’ time, Qatar joined Bahrain and seven other Trucial States in a federation. Regional disputes, however, quickly compelled Qatar to resign and declare independence from the coalition that would evolve into the United Arab Emirates.
On 3 September 1971, Qatar became an independent sovereign state.
Since 1995, Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani has ruled Qatar, seizing control of the country from his father Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani while the latter vacationed in Switzerland. Under Emir Hamad, Qatar has experienced a notable amount of sociopolitical liberalization, including the endorsement of women's suffrage or right to vote, drafting a new constitution, and the launch of Al Jazeera.
Qatar served as the headquarters and one of the main launching sites of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
In December 2010, Qatar was selected to host the 2022 FIFA WorldCup, and will be the first country in the Middle East to host the tournament.
Qatar National Day on 18 December is the day Qataris celebrate their national identity and history. On that day, expressions of affection and gratitude are conveyed to the people of Qatar who cooperated in solidarity and vowed allegiance and obedience to Shaikh Jassim bin Mohammed al-Thani as a leader in 1878.
Desert landscape in Qatar
Much of the country consists of a low, barren plain, covered with sand. To the southeast lies the spectacular Khor alAdaid (“Inland Sea”), an area of rolling sand dunes surrounding an inlet of the Persian Gulf. There are mild winters and very hot, humid summers.
The highest point in Qatar is Qurayn Abu al Bawl at 103 metres (338 ft) in the Jebel Dukhan to the west, a range of low limestone outcroppings running north-south from Zikrit through Umm Bab to the southern border. The Jebel Dukhan area also contains Qatar’s main onshore oil deposits, while the natural gas fields lie offshore, to the northwest of the peninsula.
Government and politics
Qatar is a monarchy, its ruler is the emir
Council of Ministers
The supreme chancellor has the exclusive power to appoint and remove the prime minister and cabinet ministers who, together, comprise the Council of Ministers, which is the supreme executive authority in the country. The Council of Ministers also initiates legislation. Laws and decrees proposed by the Council of Ministers are referred to the Advisory Council (Majilis Al Shura) for discussion after which they are submitted to the Emir for ratification.
An Advisory Council or Majlis al-Shura has limited legislative authority to draft and approve laws, but the Emir has final say on all matters. No legislative elections have been held since 1970 when there were partial elections to the body.
In 2003, Qatar adopted a new constitution that provided for the direct election of 30 of the 45 members of Advisory Council.As of 2012, the Council is composed entirely of members appointed by the Emir.
Elections to the Majlis al-Shurahave have been announced, and then postponed, several times. In 2011 the emir announced that elections to the council would be held in the second half of 2013.
An elected 29-member Central Municipal Council (CMC) has limited consultative authority aimed at improving municipal services.The CMC makes recommendations to the Ministry for Municipal Affairs and Agriculture. Disagreement between the CMC and the Ministry can be brought to the Council of Ministers for resolution. Municipal elections are scheduled for every four years. The most recent elections for the council were in May 2011. Before 1999, members of the CMC were appointed by the government.
Municipalities of Qatar
Map of the municipalities of Qatar, since 2004Before 2004, Qatar was divided into ten municipalities (Arabic: baladiyah), also occasionally or rarely translated as governorates or provinces:
Since 2004, Qatar has been divided into seven municipalities.A new municipality, Al Daayen, was created under Resolution No. 13, formed from parts of Umm Salal and Al Khawr; at the same time, Al Ghuwariyah was merged with Al Khawr; Al Jumaliyah was merged with Ar Rayyan; Jarayan al Batnah was split between Ar Rayyan and Al Wakrah; and Mesaieed was merged with Al Wakrah.
For statistical purposes, the municipalities are further subdivided into zones (87 in number as of 2004), which are in turn subdivided into blocks.
Qatar is a civil law jurisdiction. However, Shari'a or Islamic law is applied to aspects of family law, inheritance, and certain criminal acts.
Many cases of ill-treatment of immigrantlabour have been observed. Qatar does not maintain wage standards for its immigrant labor, and does not permit labor-unions. Under the provisions of Qatar’s sponsorship law, sponsors have the unilateral power to cancel workers’ residency permits, deny workers’ ability to change employers, report a worker as “absconded” to police authorities, and deny permission to leave the country. As a result, sponsors may restrict workers’ movements and workers may be afraid to report abuses or claim their rights.
As of 2005, certain provisions of the Qatari Criminal Code allowed punishments such as flogging and stoning to be imposed as criminal sanctions. The UN Committee Against Torture found that these practices constituted a breach of the obligations imposed by the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Qatar retains the death penalty, mainly for threats against national security.
Laws governing alcohol and other dietary issues
Alcohol consumption is legal in Qatar, with many restrictions. Luxury hotels are allowed to sell alcohol to their adult non-Muslim customers. Foreign nationals may obtain a permit to purchase alcohol for personal consumption. The Qatar Distribution Company (a subsidiary of Qatar Airways) is permitted to import alcohol and operates the only liquor stores in the country.
Until recently, restaurants on the Pearl-Qatar (a man-made island near Doha) were allowed to serve alcoholic drinks. In December 2011, however, restaurants on the Pearl were told to stop selling alcohol.No explanation was given for the ban. Speculation about the reason includes the government's desire to project a more pious image in advance of the country’s first election of a royal advisory body and rumors of a financial dispute between the government and the resort’s developers.
Foreign relations of Qatar
Qatar was also an early member of OPEC and a founding member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It is a member of the Arab League. The country has not accepted compulsory International Court of Justice jurisdiction.
Qatar has bilateral relationships with a variety of foreign powers. It has allowed American forces to use an air base to send supplies to Iraq and Afghanistan. It has also signed a defense cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia, with whom it shares the largest single non-associated gas field in the world. It was the second nation, the first being France, to have publicly announced its recognition of the Libyan opposition's National Transitional Council as the legitimate government of Libya amidst the 2011 Libyan civil war.
The history of Qatar’s alliances provides insight into the basis of their policy. Between 1760 and 1971, Qatar sought formal protection from the high transitory powers of the Ottomans, British, the Al-Khalifa’s from Bahrain, the Persians, and the Wahhabis from Saudi Arabia. It has undoubtedly been a powerless nation between influential nations and always fearful of losing their sovereignty. It was quickly determined that creating permanent alliances is not in Qatar’s best interest and that it could not rest its security in the hands of another; the only thing that is permanent is Qatar’s interests. Qatar sought to secure the growing threat of being in a volatile geographic region, with mistrust and nuclear threats within close proximity, by inviting the United States to create a full-functioning military base. Sheikh Hamad’s coup in 1995 reinvigorated its foreign policy, allowing it to step out of Saudi Arabia’s shadow, and unaligned its policies from them, surprising the region. Speculation of a Saudi Arabian-sponsored coup attempt in the late 1990s to reinstate the ousted Emir’s father, and border disputes, led to obstreperous relations, resulting in Riyadh withdrawing diplomatic representation from 2002 to 2007. Launch of Al-Jazeera certainly did not help; it bred mistrust within the region, and brought into question the motives behind it and Qatar’s road to modernity in relation to the various countries it affected.
In March 2005, a suicide bombing killed a British teacher at the Doha Players Theater, shocking for a country that had not previously experienced acts of terrorism. The bombing was carried out by Omar Ahmed Abdullah Ali, an Egyptian residing in Qatar, who had suspected ties to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. According to leaked documents published in The New YorkTimes, Qatar's record of counter-terrorism efforts was the "worst in the region" although Qatar had been a generous host to the American military. The cable suggested that Qatar’s security service was "hesitant to act against known terrorists out of concern for appearing to be aligned with the U.S. and provoking reprisals".
Role in international community
Besides causing a stir in the media world, Qatar has also made a name for itself in the international arena, with its attempt to brand itself as a peaceful neutral world power. It has attempted to achieve that goal by acting as a mediator, and promoting peace in the region and beyond.
As of 2011, Qatar has engaged in mediation efforts in Western Sahara,Yemen, the Ethiopia-Eritreaconflict, Indonesia, Somalia, and famously in Darfur and Lebanon. In addition, Qatar has involved itself in deep negotiations between the Palestinian authorities, Hamas and Fatah. Qatar’s involvement as a mediator in all of these situations may be vindicated by its lack of ties to any super-national or regional powers, and by the strategy of neutrality it has followed in order to be seen as an unbiased entity in conflicts.
International Organizations and Conferences
Qatar has continued to take on more roles in the international organizational realm. In 1997 Qatar hosted the Middle East and North African summit, where it invited Israeli representation. In 2001, Qatar took the initiative and held a WTO ministerial meeting to further trade negotiations, commonly known as the "Doha Round". Most notably, Qatar held an elected seat for two years in the United Nations Security Council from 2005 to 2007, maximizing its exposure and solidifying its presence in the international community.
Qatar has hosted academic, religious, political, and economic conferences. The 11th annual Doha Forum recently brought in key thinkers, professionals of various backgrounds, and political figures from all over the world to discuss democracy, media and information technology, free trade, and water security issues. This year was the first year the forum featured the Middle East Economic Future conference.
Immigrant labor and human trafficking
Qataris a destination for men and women from South Asia and Southeast Asia who migrate willingly, but are subsequently trafficked into involuntary servitude as domestic workers and laborers, and, to a lesser extent, commercial sexual exploitation. The most common offense was forcing workers to accept worse contract terms than those under which they were recruited. Other offenses include bonded labor, withholding of pay, restrictions on movement, arbitrary detention, and physical, mental, and sexual abuse.
According to the "Trafficking in Persons" report by the U.S. State Department, men and women who are lured into Qatar by promises of high wages are often forced into underpaid labor. The report states that Qatari laws against forced labor are rarely enforced, and that labor laws often result in the detention of victims in deportation centers, pending the completion of legal proceedings. The report places Qatar at tier 3, as one of the countries that neither satisfies the minimum standards, nor demonstrates significant efforts to come into compliance.
The government maintains that it is setting the benchmark when it comes to human rights and treatment of laborers.
In common with other Arab countries of the Persian Gulf, sponsorship laws exist in Qatar. These laws have been widely described as akin to modern-day slavery. The sponsorship system (kafeel or kafala) exists throughout the GCC, apart from Bahrain, and means that a worker (not a tourist) may not enter the country without having a kafeel; cannot leave without the kafeel`s permission (an exit permit must first be awarded by the sponsor, or kafeel); and the sponsor has the right to ban the employee from entering Qatar within 2–5 years of his first departure. Various governmental sponsors have recently exercised their right to prevent employees from leaving the country, effectively holding them against their will for no good reason. Some individuals after resigning have not been issued with their exit permits, denying them their basic right to leave the country. Many sponsors do not allow the transfer of one employee to another sponsor. This does not apply to special sponsorship of a Qatar Financial Center-sponsored worker, where it is encouraged and regulated that sponsorship should be uninhibited and assistance should be given to allow for such transfers of sponsorship.
Barwa, a Qatari contracting agency, is constructing a residential area for laborers known as Barwa Al Baraha (also called "Worker's City"). The project was launched after a recent scandal in Dubai's labor camps. The project aims to provide a reasonable standard of living as defined by the new Human Rights Legislation. The Barwa Al Baraha will cost around $1.1 billion and will be a completely integrated city in the industrial area in Doha. Along with 4.25 square meters of living space per person, the residential project will provide parks, recreational areas, malls, and shops for laborers. Phase one of the project was set to be completed by the end of 2008, and the project itself is set to be completed by the middle of 2010.
Women in Qatar vote and may run for public office. Qatar enfranchised women at the same time as men in connection with the 1999 elections for a Central Municipal Council. These elections—the first ever in Qatar—were deliberately held on 8 March 1999, International Women’s Day.
Qatar sent women athletes to the 2012 Summer Olympics that began on 27 July in London.
The government uses Sunni law as the basis of its criminal and civil regulations. Some religious tolerance is granted. Foreign nationals are free to affiliate with their faiths other than Islam, e.g. Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism and Bahai, as long as they are religious in private and do not offend 'public order' or 'morality'.
In March 2008, a Roman Catholic church, Our Lady of the Rosary, was consecrated in Doha. No missionaries were allowed in the community. The church will have no bells, crosses or other Christian symbols on it and its premises.
Graphical depiction of Qatar's product exports in 28 color coded categoriesThe economic growth of Qatar has been almost exclusively based on its petrol and natural gas industry, which began in 1940.The country has experienced rapid growth over the last several years due to high oil prices, and in 2008 posted its eighth consecutive budget surplus. Economic policy is focused on developing Qatar's non-associated natural gas reserves and increasing private and foreign investment in non-energy sectors, but oil and gas still account for more than 50% of GDP; roughly 85% of export earnings, and 70% of government revenues.
Oil and gas have made Qatar one of the highest per-capita income countries, and one of the world's fastest growing. The World Factbook states that Qatar has the second-highest GDP per capita in the world, after Liechtenstein. Proved oil reserves of 15 billion barrels should enable continued output at current levels for 37 years. Qatar'sproved reserves of natural gas are nearly 26 trillion cubic metres, about 14% of the world total and the third largest in the world.
Before the discovery of oil, the economy of the Qatari region focused on fishing and pearl hunting. After the introduction of the Japanese cultured pearl onto the world market in the 1920s and 1930s, Qatar's pearling industry crashed. However, the discovery of oil, beginning in the 1940s, completely transformed the state's economy. Now, the country has a high standard of living, with many social services offered to its citizens and all the amenities of any modern state. It relies heavily on foreign labour to grow its economy, to the extent that 94% of its labour is carried out by foreigners. Labour laws in Qatar have improved over recent years, and Qatar is now the only state in the GCC to allow labour unions.
Qatar’snational income primarily derives from oil and natural gas exports. The country has oil reserves of 15 billion barrels, while gas reserves in the giant North Field (which straddles the border with Iran and is almost as large as the peninsula itself) are estimated to be between 80 trillion cubic feet (2.3×10^12 m3) to 800 trillion cubic feet (23×10^12 m3) (1 trillion cubic feet of gas is equivalent to about 180 million barrels (29×10^6 m3) of oil). Qataris’ wealth and standard of living compare well with those of Western European states; Qatar has the highest GDP per capita in the Arab World, according to the International Monetary Fund (2010) and the CIA World Factbook. With no income tax, Qatar (along with Bahrain) is one of the countries with the lowest tax rates in the world. Qatar has been ranked as the world's richest country per capita in a new list compiled by US-based Forbes magazine. Blessed with the third-largest natural gas reserves in the world, the Persian Gulf emirate of 1.7 million people is benefiting from a rebound in oil prices. Adjusted for purchasing power (PPP), Qatar has an estimated gross domestic product per capita of $88,222.
While oil and gas will probably remain thebackbone of Qatar’seconomy for some time to come, the country seeks to stimulate the private sector and develop a “knowledge economy”. In 2004, it established the Qatar Science & Technology Park to attract and serve technology-based companies and entrepreneurs, from overseas and within Qatar. Qatar also established Education City, which consists of international colleges. For the 15th Asian Games in Doha, it established Doha Sports City, consisting of Khalifa stadium, the Aspire Sports Academy, aquatic centres, exhibition centres and many other sports related buildings and centres. Following the success of the Asian Games, Doha kicked off an official bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics in October 2007. Its bid was finally eliminated from consideration in June 2008. Qatar also plans to build an "entertainment city" in the future.
The Qatari government hopes that large-scale investment in all social and economic sectors will lead to the development of a strong financial market.
The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) provides financial institutions with world-class services in investment, margin and no-interest loans, and capital support. These platforms are situated in an economy founded on the development of its hydrocarbons resources, specifically its exportation of petroleum. It has been created with a long-term perspective to support the development of Qatar and the wider region, develop local and regional markets, and strengthen the links between the energy based economies and global financial markets.
Apart from Qatar itself, which needs to raise capital to finance projects of more than $130 billion, the QFC also provides a conduit for financial institutions to access nearly $1 trillion of investments which stretch across the GCC (Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf) as a whole over the next decade. Commercial ties between the United States and Qatar have been expanding at a rapid pace over the last five years, with trade volumes growing by more than 340%, from $738 million in 2003 to $3.2 billion in 2009. Over the same period, U.S. exports increased by 580% to $2.7 billion, making the United States the largest import partner for Qatar. U.S. companies look to play key role in the $60 billion dollars that Qatar will invest in roads, infrastructure development, housing and real estate, health/medical and sanitation projects in the next decade.
Primary means of transportation in Qatar is by road, due to the very cheap price of petroleum. The country as a result has an advanced road system undergoing vast upgrades in response to the country's rapidly rising population, with several highways undergoing upgrades and new expressways within Doha under construction. A large bus network connects Doha with other towns in the country, and is the primary means of public transportation in the city.
The Salwa International Highway currently connects Doha to the border with Saudi Arabia, and a causeway with both road and rail links to Bahrain at Zubarah is due to begin construction shortly. The causeway will become the largest in the world, and will be the second to connect Bahrain to the Arabian Peninsula.
Currently, no rail networks exist in the country. In November 2009, however, the government signed a $26 billion contract with the German company Deutsche Bahn to construct a railway system over the next 20 years. The network will connect the country itself, and will include an international link with neighbouring states as part of a larger rail network being constructed across the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council. A railway link is also under construction between Qatar and Bahrain as part of the Qatar Bahrain Causeway.
Qatar's main airport is the Doha International Airport, which served almost 15 million passengers in 2007. In comparison, the airport served only 2 million passengers in 1998. As a result of the much larger volumes of passengers flying into and through the country today, the New Doha International Airport is currently under construction, and will replace the existing airport in 2013.
For two decades Qatar has had the highest per-capita carbon dioxide emissions in the world, at 49.1 metric tons per person (2008). This is almost double the next highest per-capita emitting country, which is Kuwait at 30.1 metric tons (2008) and they are three times those of the United States. Other sources state that by 2007, Qatar’s emission rate increased to 69 tons per person per year. Qatar had the highest per capita carbon dioxide emissions for the past 18 years. These emissions are largely due to high rates of energy use in Qatar. Major uses of energy in Qatar include air conditioning, natural gas processing, water desalination and electricity production. Between 1995 and 2011 the electricity generating capacity of Qatar will have increased to six times the previous level. The fact that Qataris do not have to pay for either their water or electricity supplies is thought to contribute to their high rate of energy use. They are also one of the highest consumers of water per capita per day, using around 400 litres.
Out of the total population of approximately 1.5 million (May 2008 est.), the make up of ethnic groups is as follows: Qatari (Arab) 20%; other Arab 20%; Indian 20%; Filipino 10%; Nepali 13%; Pakistani 7%; Sri Lankan 5%; other 5%. Arabic, English, Malayalam, Hindi, Tamil,Telugu, Kannada, Tagalog, Urdu, and Punjabi are the most widely spoken languages..
Qatari culture (music, art, dress, and cuisine) is similar to that of other Arab countries of the Persian Gulf; see Culture of the Arab States of the Persian Gulf. Arab tribes from Saudi Arabia migrated to Qatar and other places in the Persian Gulf; therefore, the culture in the Persian Gulf region varies little from country to country.
Qatar explicitly uses Sharia law as the basis of its government, and the vast majority of its citizens follow Hanbali Madhhab. Hanbali is one of the four schools (Madhhabs) of Fiqh or religious law within Sunni Islam (the other three being Hanafi, Maliki and Shafii). Sunni Muslims believe that all four schools have "correct guidance", and the differences between them lie not in the fundamentals of faith, but in finer judgments and jurisprudence, which are a result of the independent reasoning of the imams and the scholars who followed them. Because their individual methodologies of interpretation and extraction from the primary sources (usul) were different, they came to different judgments on particular matters.
Islam in Qatar and Christianity in Qatar
Islam is the predominant religion. According to the 2004 census, 77.5% of the population are Muslim, 8.5% are Christian and 14% are "Other". Shi'as comprise between 5% to 10% of the Muslim population in Qatar.
Qatar is the only other Wahhabi state in the Arabian Peninsula. The other one being Saudi Arabia.
The majority of non-citizens are from South and Southeast Asian and Arab countries working on temporary employment contracts, accompanied by family members in some cases. Non-citizens can be Sunni or Shi'a Muslims, Protestant or Catholic Christians, Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs, or Bahá'ís.
Religion is not a criterion for citizenship, according to the Nationality Law.
The Christian population consists nearly completely of foreigners. Active churches are Mar Thoma Church, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church from Southern India, Arab Evangelicals from Syria and Palestine, and Anglicans, about 50,000 Catholics and Copts from Egypt. No foreign missionary groups operate openly in the country, but the government allows churches to conduct Mass. Since 2008 Christians have been allowed to build churches on ground donated by the government.
Cornell University's Weill Medical College in QatarIn recent years, Qatar has placed great emphasis on education. Citizens are required to attend government-provided education from kindergarten through high school. Qatar University was founded in 1973. More recently, with the support of the Qatar Foundation, a number of leading US universities have opened branch campuses in the Education City. These include
- Carnegie Mellon University
- Cornell University’s Weill Cornell Medical College
- Georgetown University School of Foreign Service
- Houston Community College System
- Northwestern University
- Texas A&M University
- Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts
In 2008, Qatar established the Qatar Science & Technology Park at Education City to link those universities with industry. Education City is also home to a fully accredited International Baccalaureate school, Qatar Academy. Two Canadian institutions, the College of the North Atlantic and the University of Calgary, also operate campuses in Doha. Other for-profit universities have also established campuses in the city.
In 2009, Qatar Foundation launched a non-profit radio station, QF Radio 93.7 FM , which offers a streaming online service providing regular programs about education, science, community development, and the arts in Qatar to a global online audience. It also broadcasts to Doha, Qatar, on 93.7 FM. The program is produced as 70% in Arabic and 30% in English.
In 2009, the Qatar Foundation launched the World Innovation Summit for Education – WISE – a global forum that brought together education stakeholders, opinion leaders, and decision makers from all over the world to discuss educational issues. The first edition was held in Doha from 16 to 18 November 2009, the second from 7 to 9 December 2010. The third edition will be held from 1 to 3 November 2011.
Moreover, in 2007, the American Brookings Institution announced that it was opening the Brookings Doha Center to undertake research and programming on the socioeconomic and geopolitical issues facing the region.
In November 2002, the Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani created the Supreme Education Council.The Council directs and controls education for all ages from the pre-school level through the university level, including the “Education for a New Era” reform initiative.
The Emir’s second wife, Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned, has been instrumental in new education initiatives in Qatar. She chairs the Qatar Foundation, sits on the board of Qatar’s Supreme Education Council, and is a major driving force behind the importation of Western expertise into the education system, particularly at the college level. In addition, The Qatar Foundation has supported the implementation of Arabic language programs in American public schools through the establishment of Qatar Foundation International, a U.S.‑based non-profit dedicated to connecting the culture of American and Qatari students.
There are currently a total of 567 schools in operation within Qatar, both in the public and the private sector. A large number of new schools are also under construction, particularly public schools, in order to meet increased demand which arose as a result of the large increase in population that the country has seen of late. There are nine universities in the country, serving 12,480 students.
Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC)—affiliated with Cornell University—is the premier non-profit health care provider in Doha, Qatar. Established by the Emiri decree in 1979, HMC manages five highly specialised hospitals and a health care centre: Hamad General Hospital, Rumailah Hospital, Women’s Hospital, Psychiatric Hospital and the Primary Health Care Centres and Al Khor Hospital. These hospitals are quite sophisticated by the standards of the region, with most hosting advanced MRI and other scanning machines. Other private hospitals and polyclinics consist of Sidra Hospital, Al-Ahli Hospital, Doha Clinic, Al-Emadi Hospital, The American Hospital, Apollo Clinic, Future Medical Center, Future Dental Center, and Tadawi Medical. Qatar has among the highest rates in the world for obesity, diabetes and genetic disorders. On the Qatar border, Saudi Arabia has set up the Salwa General Hospital, which is also serving all Qatari patients in good will of GCC.
Qatar has a modern telecommunication system centered in Doha. Tropospheric scatter to Bahrain; microwave radio relay to Saudi Arabia and UAE; submarine cable to Bahrain and UAE; satellite earth stations – two Intelsat (one Atlantic Ocean and one Indian Ocean) and one Arabsat. Callers can call Qatar using submarine cable, satellite or VoIP (Skype/ Internet calling). However, Qtel has interfered with VoIP systems in the past, and Skype's website has been blocked before. Following complaints from individuals, the website has been unblocked and Paltalk has previously been blocked.
With thanks to wikipedia.