Qatari, adj., n.
/kah"tahr, keuh tahr"/, n.
an independent emirate on the Persian Gulf; under British protection until 1971. 665,485; 8500 sq. mi. (22,000 sq. km). Cap.: Doha.
Also, Katar.

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Introduction Qatar
Background: Ruled by the Al Thani family since the mid-1800s, Qatar transformed itself from a poor British protectorate noted mainly for pearling into an independent state with significant oil and natural gas revenues. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Qatari economy was crippled by a continuous siphoning off of petroleum revenues by the amir who had ruled the country since 1972. He was overthrown by his son, the current Amir HAMAD bin Khalifa Al Thani, in a bloodless coup in 1995. In 2001, Qatar resolved its longstanding border disputes with both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Oil and natural gas revenues enable Qatar to have a per capita income not far below the leading industrial countries of Western Europe. Geography Qatar -
Location: Middle East, peninsula bordering the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia
Geographic coordinates: 25 30 N, 51 15 E
Map references: Middle East
Area: total: 11,437 sq km water: 0 sq km land: 11,437 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Connecticut
Land boundaries: total: 60 km border countries: Saudi Arabia 60 km
Coastline: 563 km
Maritime claims: contiguous zone: 24 NM exclusive economic zone: as determined by bilateral agreements or the median line territorial sea: 12 NM
Climate: arid; mild, pleasant winters; very hot, humid summers
Terrain: mostly flat and barren desert covered with loose sand and gravel
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m highest point: Qurayn Abu al Bawl 103 m
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, fish
Land use: arable land: 1.27% permanent crops: 0.27% other: 98.45% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 130 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: haze, dust storms, sandstorms common Environment - current issues: limited natural fresh water resources are increasing dependence on large-scale desalination facilities Environment - international party to: Biodiversity, Climate
agreements: Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography - note: strategic location in central Persian Gulf near major petroleum deposits People Qatar
Population: 793,341 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 25.2% (male 102,110; female 98,053) 15-64 years: 72.1% (male 403,508; female 168,428) 65 years and over: 2.7% (male 15,299; female 5,943) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 3.02% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 15.78 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 4.34 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: 18.75 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 2.4 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 2.57 male(s)/ female total population: 1.91 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 20.73 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 72.88 years female: 75.48 years (2002 est.) male: 70.4 years
Total fertility rate: 3.1 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.09% (1999 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Qatari(s) adjective: Qatari
Ethnic groups: Arab 40%, Pakistani 18%, Indian 18%, Iranian 10%, other 14%
Religions: Muslim 95%
Languages: Arabic (official), English commonly used as a second language
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 79% male: 79% female: 80% (1995 est.) Government Qatar
Country name: conventional long form: State of Qatar conventional short form: Qatar local short form: Qatar note: closest approximation of the native pronunciation falls between cutter and gutter, but not like guitar local long form: Dawlat Qatar
Government type: traditional monarchy
Capital: Doha Administrative divisions: 9 municipalities (baladiyat, singular - baladiyah); Ad Dawhah, Al Ghuwayriyah, Al Jumayliyah, Al Khawr, Al Wakrah, Ar Rayyan, Jarayan al Batinah, Madinat ash Shamal, Umm Salal
Independence: 3 September 1971 (from UK)
National holiday: Independence Day, 3 September (1971)
Constitution: provisional constitution enacted 19 April 1972; in July 1999 Amir HAMAD issued a decree forming a committee to draft a permanent constitution
Legal system: discretionary system of law controlled by the amir, although civil codes are being implemented; Islamic law dominates family and personal matters
Suffrage: suffrage is limited to municipal elections
Executive branch: chief of state: Amir HAMAD bin Khalifa Al Thani (since 27 June 1995 when, as crown prince, he ousted his father, Amir KHALIFA bin Hamad Al Thani, in a bloodless coup); Crown Prince JASSIM bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, third son of the monarch (selected crown prince by the monarch 22 October 1996); note - Amir HAMAD also holds the positions of minister of defense and commander-in-chief of the armed forces elections: none; the monarch is hereditary head of government: Prime Minister ABDALLAH bin Khalifa Al Thani, brother of the monarch (since 30 October 1996); Deputy Prime Minister MUHAMMAD bin Khalifa Al Thani, brother of the monarch (since 20 January 1998) cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the monarch note: in March 1999, Qatar held nationwide elections for a 29-member Central Municipal Council, which has consultative powers aimed at improving the provision of municipal services
Legislative branch: unicameral Advisory Council or Majlis al-Shura (35 seats; members appointed) note: the constitution calls for elections for part of this consultative body, but no elections have been held since 1970, when there were partial elections to the body; Council members have had their terms extended every four years since
Judicial branch: Court of Appeal Political parties and leaders: none Political pressure groups and none
leaders: International organization ABEDA, AFESD, AL, AMF, CCC, ESCWA,
participation: FAO, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDB, IFAD, IFRCS, IHO (pending member), ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITU, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, OPCW, OPEC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Badr Umar al-DAFA chancery: 4200 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20016 consulate(s) general: Houston FAX: [1] (202) 237-0061 telephone: [1] (202) 274-1600 Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Ambassador Maureen
US: E. QUINN (since September 2001) embassy: Al-Luqtas District, 22 February Road, Doha mailing address: P. O. Box 2399, Doha telephone: [974] 488 4101 FAX: [974] 486 1669 note: workweek is Saturday-Wednesday
Flag description: maroon with a broad white serrated band (nine white points) on the hoist side Economy Qatar -
Economy - overview: Oil accounts for more than 30% of GDP, roughly 80% of export earnings, and 58% of government revenues. Proved oil reserves of 3.7 billion barrels should ensure continued output at current levels for 23 years. Oil has given Qatar a per capita GDP comparable to that of the leading West European industrial countries. Qatar's proved reserves of natural gas exceed 7 trillion cubic meters, more than 5% of the world total, third largest in the world. Production and export of natural gas are becoming increasingly important. Long-term goals feature the development of offshore natural gas reserves. In 2000, Qatar posted its highest ever trade surplus of $7 billion, due mainly to high oil prices and increased natural gas exports, and managed to maintain the surplus in 2001.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $16.3 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 5.6% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $21,200 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 1% industry: 49% services: 50% (1996 est.) Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2% (2001)
Labor force: 280,122 (1997 est.)
Unemployment rate: 2.7% (2001)
Budget: revenues: $5 billion expenditures: $4.8 billion, including capital expenditures of $900 million (FY01/02 est.)
Industries: crude oil production and refining, fertilizers, petrochemicals, steel reinforcing bars, cement Industrial production growth rate: NA% Electricity - production: 9.2 billion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 100% hydro: 0% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 8.556 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: fruits, vegetables; poultry, dairy products, beef; fish
Exports: $11 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Exports - commodities: petroleum products 80%, fertilizers, steel
Exports - partners: Japan 43%, Singapore 8%, South Korea 6%, US 4%, UAE 2% (1999)
Imports: $3.5 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and transport equipment, food, chemicals
Imports - partners: UK 10%, Japan 8%, Germany 6%, Italy 6%, US 6% (1998)
Debt - external: $13.1 billion (2000 est.) Economic aid - recipient: $NA
Currency: Qatari rial (QAR)
Currency code: QAR
Exchange rates: Qatari rials per US dollar - 3.6400 (fixed rate)
Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March Communications Qatar Telephones - main lines in use: 142,000 (1997) Telephones - mobile cellular: 43,476 (1997)
Telephone system: general assessment: modern system centered in Doha domestic: NA international: tropospheric scatter to Bahrain; microwave radio relay to Saudi Arabia and UAE; submarine cable to Bahrain and UAE; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean) and 1 Arabsat Radio broadcast stations: AM 6, FM 5, shortwave 1 (1998)
Radios: 256,000 (1997) Television broadcast stations: 1 (plus three repeaters) (2001)
Televisions: 230,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .qa Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: 75,000 (2001) Transportation Qatar
Railways: 0 km
Highways: total: 1,230 km paved: 1,107 km unpaved: 123 km (1996)
Waterways: none
Pipelines: crude oil 235 km; natural gas 400 km
Ports and harbors: Doha, Halul Island, Umm Sa'id (Musay'id)
Merchant marine: total: 25 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 679,081 GRT/1,051,088 DWT ships by type: cargo 10, combination ore/oil 2, container 7, petroleum tanker 6 note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Kuwait 1, United Arab Emirates 3 (2002 est.)
Airports: 4 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 2 over 3,047 m: 2 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 2 under 914 m: 1 (2001) 914 to 1,523 m: 1
Heliports: 1 (2001) Military Qatar
Military branches: Army, Navy, Air Force Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age (2002 est.) Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 316,885 note: includes non-nationals (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 166,214 (2002 est.)
service: Military manpower - reaching males: 6,797 (2002 est.)
military age annually: Military expenditures - dollar $723 million (FY00/01)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of 10% (FY00/01)
GDP: Transnational Issues Qatar Disputes - international: none

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officially State of Qatar

Independent emirate on the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula.

Area: 4,412 sq mi (11,427 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 606,000. Capital: Doha. Most of the population is Arab, with South Asian and Iranian minorities who are often migrant workers. Languages: Arabic (official), English. Religion: Islam (official). Currency: Qatar rial. Qatar is mostly stony, sandy, and barren and consists of salt flats, dune desert, and arid plains. Largely because of petroleum and natural gas exports, Qatar's gross national product per capita is one of the highest in the world. The government owns all of the agricultural land and generates most of the economic activity; the private sector participates in trade and contracting on a limited scale. Qatar is a monarchy, and its basis of legislation is Islamic law. The head of state and government is the emir, assisted by the prime minister. It was partly controlled by Bahrain in the 18th and 19th centuries and was nominally part of the Ottoman Empire until World War I (1914–18). In 1916 it became a British protectorate. Oil was discovered in 1940, and the country rapidly modernized. Qatar declared independence in 1971, when the British protectorate ended. In 1991 it served as a base for air strikes against Iraq in the Persian Gulf War.

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▪ 2009

10,836 sq km (4,184 sq mi)
(2008 est.): 1,448,000
Head of state and government:
Emir Sheikh Hamad ibn Khalifah al-Thani, assisted by Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad ibn Jasim ibn Jabr al-Thani

      In 2008 Qatar played a leading role in brokering political disputes in other countries. In Lebanon, Qatari diplomats succeeded in ending the long-standing stalemate between Lebanon's Christian-led government and Hezbollah, the country's largest and most influential Shiʿite Muslim political party and militia group. In Yemen, where diplomatic efforts were ongoing, Qatar sought a cease-fire between an armed insurgency group in the northern part of the country and the government in Sanaa. The parties to the disputes in each of these cases acknowledged Qatar's goodwill, independence, and genuinely neutral stance as well as its willingness to extend financial assistance in implementing any agreement reached. Elsewhere, Qatar's quests for conflict resolution in the war-ravaged Darfur region of The Sudan, on the one hand, and between Eritrea and Ethiopia over a major boundary dispute, on the other, proved as elusive as had numerous efforts made by others.

      Qatar's economy, which already boasted one of the world's highest per capita incomes, continued to soar as a result of increased hydrocarbon production and heightened revenues from energy exports. The country remained the world's largest producer of gas-to-liquids fuels and increasingly invested substantial surplus revenues in foreign financial institutions. In addition, in its annual Corruption Perceptions Index, the Berlin-based nongovernmental organization Transparency International ranked Qatar as the least- corrupt country in the Middle East.

      Qatar's rapid economic expansion was not without its downsides. Of particular concern was a dramatic rise in inflation resulting from a combination of factors. Among the most prominent were a pronounced shortage of housing, significantly higher costs for imported skilled labour needed for new hydrocarbon and infrastructure projects, and the scarcity of construction materials, which contributed to the doubling of costs for some major development ventures. Planning authorities moved rapidly to introduce measures aimed at stemming the inflationary trends.

John Duke Anthony

▪ 2008

10,836 sq km (4,184 sq mi)
(2007 est.): 841,000
Head of state and government:
Emir Sheikh Hamad ibn Khalifah al-Thani, assisted by Prime Ministers Sheikh Abdullah ibn Khalifah al-Thani and, from April 3, Sheikh Hamad ibn Jasim ibn Jabr al-Thani

      The year 2007 was an active one in Qatar. Prime Minister Abdullah ibn Khalifah al-Thani resigned in April and was replaced by Foreign Minister Hamad ibn Jasim ibn Jabr al-Thani, who retained the foreign ministry portfolio; the country's third municipal elections were held in the spring; and Her Highness Shaikha Mozah, the wife of the head of state, Emir Sheikh Hamad ibn Khalifah al-Thani, announced the opening of the Arab world's first centre for democracy at the conclusion in April of the seventh annual Doha Forum on Democracy, Development, and Free Trade. In international relations, Doha in December hosted the annual Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) ministerial and heads of state summit. Earlier in the year, Qatar had sought to mediate between hostile Lebanese, Palestinian, and Sudanese factions and succeeded in persuading Riyadh to return its ambassador to Doha, from whence he had been withdrawn in 2002 in reaction to treatment of Saudi Arabia by Qatar's government-financed Al-Jazeera satellite television network.

      Economic diversification highlights included the ongoing success of state-owned Qatar Airways, which garnered still more international awards for superior services and added numerous new routes, bringing to 77 its number of destinations worldwide. Meanwhile, Qatari per capita income soared to $44,200, the highest in the Gulf region and one of the highest in the world.

      Qatar National Bank again received the country's highest possible credit rating from the world's leading rating institutions, and the Qatari Financial Centre, along with its Kuwaiti and Abu Dhabi associates, continued to strengthen capital institutions in the U.S., the U.K., Lebanon, and Malaysia. Qatar's continued meteoric expansion as one of the world's most important producers and exporters of liquefied natural gas and gas-to-liquids fuels, combined with record-high oil revenues, underscored the country's expanded role as a major centre of regional and international modernization, project financing, and, increasingly, greater intra-GCC industrialization, transportation, tourism, and economic integration.

John Duke Anthony

▪ 2007

10,836 sq km (4,184 sq mi)
(2006 est.): 838,000
Head of state and government:
Emir Sheikh Hamad ibn Khalifah al-Thani, assisted by Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah ibn Khalifah al-Thani

      Qatar's energy industry, especially its liquefied natural gas (LNG) and gas-to-liquids (GTL) sectors, continued its phenomenal growth in 2006. Progress was also ongoing in the country's long-planned Dolphin Gas Project to deliver substantial quantities of gas to the neighbouring United Arab Emirates via an undersea pipeline. In addition, the government announced plans to spend $15 billion to increase the number of the country's tanker fleet to further expand its already substantial exports of LNG. These and other investments underscored Qatar's quest to become the world's largest LNG supplier, the gas capital of the less-developed world, and an increased source of LNG for the U.S., British, and Asian economies.

      Adding to its already-thriving Education City, which showcased branch campuses of leading Western universities, Qatar unveiled plans for building an equally ambitious multibillion-dollar Energy City, which would serve as a Middle East energy hub.

      Qatar continued to share its fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member countries' concern regarding the extent to which the continuing insurgency in Iraq had not only emboldened but significantly enhanced the regional strategic, geopolitical, and military position of Iran. (See Iran: Special Report.) At the GCC summit in December, the heads of state of the member countries declared that they would henceforth collectively develop their own nuclear program. In line with Iran's declared policies, their objective would be to enrich uranium with a view to diversifying their energy sources. They would allow the International Atomic Energy Agency the right of inspections throughout the process.

      Although already a member of the World Trade Organization, Qatar hit a snag in its negotiations with the United States to conclude a free-trade agreement; Qatar disagreed with Washington's demands for revisions to Doha's labour laws. Qatar's ability to produce LNG and GTL for export to the United States and elsewhere came at a time of mounting Western pressures for lessened dependence upon foreign oil sources coupled with demands for utilizing different and more diversified sources of energy. In Qatar's case, these alternative fuels existed in relative abundance while being more environmentally friendly than traditional sources of hydrocarbon fuels.

John Duke Anthony

▪ 2006

11,427 sq km (4,412 sq mi)
(2005 est.): 773,000
Head of state and government:
Emir Sheikh Hamad ibn Khalifah al-Thani, assisted by Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah ibn Khalifah al-Thani

      Major accomplishments in Qatar in 2005 included the ground breaking for a new international airport and the announcement of plans for the establishment of a United Nations human rights centre. The latter would be the first of its kind in the Arabian Peninsula and Persian Gulf. Focusing on southwestern Asia and the Arab world, the centre's role would be to facilitate cooperation and exchange of information among civil society organizations and governments with a view to safeguarding and implementing human rights.

      Qatar increased its role as a provider of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe and North America. Doha signed deals with global energy giants Shell, Exxon Mobil, Total, and Chevron valued at more than $20 billion. In addition, it concluded a 25-year agreement to supply substantial amounts of LNG to Great Britain. Qatar also continued to pursue the possibility of providing gas on a long-term basis to the U.S. The latter prospect took on added importance as the effects of major hurricanes revealed the extent to which the large energy component of the U.S. economy was constrained by distribution bottlenecks and an inadequate number of refineries.

      Qatar hosted its fifth annual international Forum on Democracy and Free Trade. As a result of exchanges between the more than 500 conference participants from virtually every corner of the globe, a heightened emphasis was placed on two global requirements. One was the need to enhance living standards in the world's poorest countries, particularly among rural populations and women. The other was increased attention to improving the effectiveness of political systems and representative governance worldwide. Within Arabia and the Gulf region, these and related initiatives furthered Qatar's activist profile in selected areas of international affairs.

John Duke Anthony

▪ 2005

11,427 sq km (4,412 sq mi)
(2004 est.): 754,000
Head of state and government:
Emir Sheikh Hamad ibn Khalifah al-Thani, assisted by Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah ibn Khalifah al-Thani

      Several achievements in 2004 underscored Qatar's continuing robust economic, social, and political development together with the further modernization of its system of governance. Qatar signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the U.S., an essential stepping-stone to a bilateral free-trade accord. The potential benefits—for the U.S. an assured long-term supply of the world's most prodigious and least-expensive sources of natural gas and for Qatar a deepening strategic energy relationship with the world's largest economy—highlighted the growing depth and diversity of their bilateral cooperation. In the educational and social fields, the establishment of branch campuses of five of the U.S.'s most prominent universities in Qatar's new Education City surpassed the previous norm for cooperative academic arrangements between countries worldwide. Qatar was also importing and applying these universities' exact standards for measuring academic achievement and awarding degrees in the fields of engineering, medicine, information technology, business administration, design, and educational planning. The breakthrough represented a first not only for the Arab countries, the Middle East, and the Islamic world but also for less-developed countries in general.

      Qatar hosted the fourth annual international Conference on Free Trade and Democracy; the largest percentage of featured speakers and participants among the record 480 attendees were from Great Britain and France. The annual conference complemented other Qatari efforts involving the U.S. Middle East Partnership Initiative, which provided support for expanding education and economic reforms as well as human rights and democracy among Arab and Islamic countries.

John Duke Anthony

▪ 2004

11,427 sq km (4,412 sq mi)
(2003 est.): 626,000
Head of state and government:
Emir Sheikh Hamad ibn Khalifah al-Thani, assisted by Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah ibn Khalifah al-Thani

      In late March 2003, Qatar served as regional headquarters for the U.S.-led allied coalition that invaded Iraq, and Qatar became the principal centre for the U.S. Central Command's air command and control operations in the Persian Gulf.

      Sheikh Jassim ibn Hamad al-Thani, the emir's son, relinquished the post of crown prince to his younger brother Sheikh Tamim, who was later named deputy commander in chief of the country's armed forces. In a referendum in April, voters elected to make permanent a draft constitution that provided for universal suffrage and a 45-member advisory assembly, which paved the way for parliamentary elections in 2004.

      In October Qatar relinquished leadership to Malaysia of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and in December it completed its year of holding the presidency of the Supreme Council and chairmanship of the Ministerial Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Qatar remained first among GCC countries in annual GDP growth rate. Qatar continued to develop the offshore North Field, the world's largest nonassociated natural-gas reservoir, while revenue from liquefied natural gas (LNG), whose infrastructure had long received the country's greatest investment, approached that from oil. It was announced that Qatar would become the Middle East's first and, soon thereafter, premier producer of gas-to-liquids, including an environmentally cleaner and reduced-emissions version of conventional diesel fuel.

John Duke Anthony

▪ 2003

11,427 sq km (4,412 sq mi)
(2002 est.): 606,000
Head of state and government:
Emir Sheikh Hamad ibn Khalifah al-Thani, assisted by Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah ibn Khalifah al-Thani

      In 2002 Qatar continued to figure prominently in regional and international news, largely as a result of its ongoing chairmanship of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and its 57 member countries. Qatar was a prominent interlocutor with international and regional organizations and, in particular, with the United Nations, the United States, and other allied governments engaged in the global campaign against terrorism.

      Three developments advanced Qatar closer to its potential role as a prominent player in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region integration: the scheduled launch of the pan-GCC common external tariff (5%) and customs union, which was expected to increase trade between Qatar and the rest of the GCC region; the provision in the future of low-cost gas supplies to Bahrain, Dubai, and Kuwait; and the selection of Qatar to chair the GCC's Supreme Council for 2003.

      The country's phenomenal economic success continued to validate the government's earlier pathbreaking role in amassing immense foreign and domestic investment to build its state-of-the-art gas infrastructure. Qatar owned the world's third largest natural gas reserves and was on its way to becoming the leading exporter of liquefied natural gas within the next five years.

      Qatar's constitutional process also proceeded apace. Building on the experience of the 1999 municipal elections, in which women voted and stood as candidates, Qatar continued to prepare for its first national parliamentary elections in 2003.

John Duke Anthony

▪ 2002

11,427 sq km (4,412 sq mi)
(2001 est.): 596,000
Head of state and government:
Emir Sheikh Hamad ibn Khalifah ath-Thani, assisted by Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah ibn Khalifah ath-Thani

      In 2001 Qatar continued its increasingly prominent role in regional, interregional, and global affairs. In November 2000 Qatar had succeeded Iran as head of the 57-member-state Organization of the Islamic Conference. During its three-year term, Qatar would enjoy unprecedented standing among the world's 1.2 billion Muslims.

      In addition, Qatar's Al-Jazeera television station remained the Arab world's most prominent media force in publicizing the al-Aqsa intifadah (Palestinian uprising). In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., Al-Jazeera became the leading source for news and analysis, with reports about Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network. (See Sidebar (Media Voices of the Muslim World ).)

      In November Qatar hosted the meeting of the World Trade Organization, WHO's first summit since 1999 in Seattle, Wash. In December, at the annual heads of state summit in Muscat, Oman, Qatar was elected to head the Gulf Cooperation Council's Secretariat-General in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. As a result, a Qatari would be the senior-most official responsible for the day-to-day administration of the six member-states' (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates) efforts to establish a common market and customs union by 2003.

      In March the International Court of Justice resolved a long-standing territorial dispute between Qatar and Bahrain; Bahrain was awarded the Hawar Islands, and Qatar retained sovereignty over the Zubarah town and land strip in the northern part of the country. Qatar also continued to make progress in widening the base of its elected representatives and in developing its niche as the Gulf region's leading exporter of natural gas.

John Duke Anthony

▪ 2001

(including Hawar Islands, also claimed by Bahrain) 11,437 sq km (4,416 sq mi)
(2000 est.): 599,000
Head of state and government:
Emir Sheikh Hamad ibn Khalifah ath-Thani, assisted by Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah ibn Khalifah ath-Thani

      Qatar in 2000 continued to make major inroads into the international energy industry as the world's fastest-growing exporter of natural gas. During visits to China, France, Germany, India, South Korea, Thailand, and the United Kingdom, Emir Sheikh Hamad ibn Khalifah ath-Thani concluded memorandums of understanding with the governments of each of those major energy-importing countries. (See Biographies (Thani, Sheikh Hamad ibn Khalifah ath- ).) Coupled to the assets imbedded in its prodigious and extraordinarily low-cost gas reserves, the agreements furthered Qatar's potential, in partnership with some of the world's leading corporations, to become the engine of regional economic integration in the Persian Gulf.

      Qatar also played important roles in several high-profile OPEC summits that addressed the implications of spiraling international oil prices. At the summit in September, Qatar was a major force in enabling the members to reach agreement on a manageable price range for oil that would satisfy producers as well as consumers. The successful demarcation of the border between Qatar and Saudi Arabia was an achievement of major international significance.

John Duke Anthony

▪ 2000

(including Hawar Islands, also claimed by Bahrain) 11,437 sq km (4,416 sq mi)
(1999 est.): 589,000
Head of state and government:
Emir Sheikh Hamad ibn Khalifah ath-Thani, assisted by Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah ibn Khalifah ath-Thani

      Qatar's emir, Sheikh Hamad ibn Khalifah ath-Thani, in 1999 elaborated further on his vision for the country's future development. It would continue to proceed along three main lines. First, in cooperation with the Mobil Corp. and other multinational energy firms, Qatar would increase the production and exportation of the world's largest offshore natural gas deposits to improve the economic well-being of its citizens, whose per capita incomes were expected soon to surpass those of Brunei's as the highest in the world. Second, using the revenues from its natural gas exports, Qatar would continue to make major investments in education. The emir's wife led the drive to open a branch of an American university in Qatar that would educate and train Qatari students to run the country's burgeoning economy. Third, the emir appointed a 32-member committee to draft a permanent constitution.

      In addition, Qatar further opened its economy to foreign investment in equity-sharing arrangements with most of the world's leading multinational oil and gas firms. Also, in what was a first for the Arabian Peninsula countries, women voted and campaigned as candidates in elections in March for Doha's municipal council.

John Duke Anthony

▪ 1999

      Area (including Hawar Islands, also claimed by Bahrain): 11,437 sq km (4,416 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 579,000

      Capital: Doha

      Head of state and government: Emir Sheikh Hamad ibn Khalifah ath-Thani, assisted by Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah ibn Khalifah ath-Thani

      Qatar continued in 1998 to take steps to raise gradually the level of public participation in government. The emir announced plans to establish a 29-member municipal council, which would be open to women, to be elected in February 1999. In May the sight of some 50 women contesting in a public track and field meet before a crowd of more than 35,000 sparked debate over the participation of women in such events.

      After the November 1997 Doha regional economic conference, which was boycotted by Egypt and other Arab states, Qatar placed a ban on employing Egyptian workers, but it lifted the ban in June 1998. In April military officials signed a defense and military cooperation agreement with Russia. Qatar's national oil-distribution company reached agreement in July with a consortium of German and South Korean firms to increase the capacity of two existing oil refineries and build two additional refineries in the Musay!id region.


▪ 1998

      Area (including Hawar Islands, also claimed by Bahrain): 11,437 sq km (4,416 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 561,000

      Capital: Doha

      Head of state and government: Emir Sheikh Hamad ibn Khalifah ath-Thani, assisted by Prime Minister Sheikh Adbullah ibn Khalifah ath-Thani

      Major events in Qatar during 1997 focused on the emirate's foreign relations and oil and natural gas industries. The dispute between Qatar and Bahrain over control of a number of islands in the Persian Gulf cooled off in March after both sides agreed to let the International Court of Justice decide the issue. The two countries also agreed to establish an embassy in each other's capital for the first time since they achieved independence in 1971. Qatar froze its relations with Israel following the Arab League's decision in March to reactivate the Arab boycott of Israel but, as part of the peace process, agreed to be host of a regional economic summit in November in Doha.

      Significant progress was made in 1997 to develop oil and natural gas resources. As part of the North Field Development Project, Qatar Liquefied Gas, the world's largest liquefied gas export facility, was inaugurated in February at Ras Laffan. The Ras Laffan project was a joint venture of the Qatar General Petroleum Corp. (70%) and Mobil Corp. (30%). An agreement was signed in March with an international consortium to build a $340 million oil refinery in Qatar.

      This article updates Qatar, history of (Qatar).

▪ 1997

      A monarchy (emirate) on the Arabian Peninsula, Qatar occupies a desert peninsula and the nearby small Hawar Islands (also claimed by Bahrain) on the west coast of the Persian Gulf. Area (including Hawar Islands): 11,427 sq km (4,412 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 590,000. Cap.: Doha. Monetary unit: Qatar riyal, with (Oct. 11, 1996) an official rate of 3.64 riyals to U.S. $1 (5.73 riyals = £1 sterling). Emir and prime minister in 1996, Sheikh Hamad ibn Khalifah ath-Thani; prime minister from October 28, Sheikh Abdullah ibn Khalifa ath-Thani.

      Although Qatar's emir, Sheikh Hamad ibn Khalifah ath-Thani, had deposed his father, Sheikh Khalifah ibn Hamad ath-Thani, in June 1995, the latter in 1996 continued to control much of Qatar's state reserves and to seek the aid of neighbouring countries to reinstate him as the country's ruler. On February 20 Qatari authorities announced they had foiled a coup attempt by "foreign-backed saboteurs" supporting Sheikh Khalifah. By the fall, however, father and son reportedly had reconciled, which allowed Sheikh Khalifah to return to Qatar but not as ruler.

      While 1996 began with strained relations between Qatar and its neighbours, Qatar and Saudi Arabia agreed in April to demarcate their common border in accordance with an earlier agreement. A border dispute with Bahrain remained unresolved.


      This article updates Qatar, history of (Qatar).

▪ 1996

      A monarchy (emirate) on the Arabian Peninsula, Qatar occupies a desert peninsula and the nearby small Hawar Islands (also claimed by Bahrain) on the west coast of the Persian Gulf. Area (including Hawar Islands): 11,427 sq km (4,412 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 579,000. Cap.: Doha. Monetary unit: Qatar riyal, with (Oct. 6, 1995) an official rate of 3.64 riyals to U.S. $1 (5.76 riyals = £1 sterling). Emirs and prime ministers in 1995, Sheikh Khalifah ibn Hamad ath-Thani and, from June 27, Sheikh Hamad ibn Khalifah ath-Thani.

      On June 27, 1995, in a nonviolent palace coup, Crown Prince Hamad ibn Khalifah ath-Thani ousted his father as emir of Qatar while the latter was traveling abroad. Sheikh Hamad's assumption of power received broad support within the ruling family as well as prompt recognition from neighbouring states. Sheikh Hamad had already been running the country's day-to-day affairs for three years. His move was reportedly motivated mainly by differences with his father's more conservative approach to the pace of economic development and by indications that his father was planning to reassert his authority. Sheikh Hamad promised to intensify efforts to resolve Qatar's border disputes with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Negotiations continued with Saudi Arabia. In the case of the dispute with Bahrain over the Hawar Islands, Qatar was prepared to accept adjudication by the International Court of Justice, but Bahrain refused. Qatar surprised its neighbours by walking out of a Gulf Cooperation Council meeting in December on a procedural point and announcing it was "reviewing" its membership.

      Qatar pressed ahead with development of its huge gas resources. In September the first phase of Qatargas' North Field project, producing four million tons per year of liquefied natural gas, was inaugurated. (MICHAEL STERNER)

      This updates the article Qatar, history of (Qatar).

▪ 1995

      A monarchy (emirate) on the Arabian Peninsula, Qatar occupies a desert peninsula and the nearby small Hawar Islands (also claimed by Bahrain) on the west coast of the Persian Gulf. Area (including Hawar Islands): 11,427 sq km (4,412 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 552,000. Cap.: Doha. Monetary unit: Qatar riyal, with (Oct. 7, 1994) a free rate of 3.64 riyals to U.S. $1 (5.79 riyals = £1 sterling). Emir and prime minister in 1994, Sheikh Khalifah ibn Hamad ath-Thani.

      In May 1994 an Israeli delegation invited to weapons-control talks in Doha along with representatives from 42 other countries caused controversy when other delegates attacked the Jewish state for its nuclear policy. The invitation to Israel emphasized Qatar's independent line in foreign policy. King Hussein I of Jordan, shunned by many of the other Arab Gulf states for his support of Iraq, visited Qatar in March, and other delegations were received from hard-line Arab states, including The Sudan (National Islamic Front) in February and Yemen in April. An Iraqi Information Ministry team visited Doha for a week.

      The national budget provided for a 19.4% decline in revenues due to lower oil prices. Expenditure was cut to $3,250,000,000 from $3,590,000,000 in 1993, but the budget deficit was also slated to rise from $807 million in 1993 to $953 million in 1994. In a bid to replace oil income with other sources of wealth, new liquefied natural gas (LNG) contracts were negotiated with energy companies in East Asia. Qatar expected to export 24 million metric tons a year of LNG from its North Field by the year 2005.

      On January 20 Qatar Airways, the Gulf's youngest airline, inaugurated its first scheduled passenger flight to the United Arab Emirates. The airline, which opened for business with two leased aircraft, had traffic rights for Dubayy, ash-Shariqah, and Khartoum in The Sudan. (JOHN WHELAN)

      This updates the article Qatar, history of (Qatar).

▪ 1994

      A monarchy (emirate) on the Arabian Peninsula, Qatar occupies a desert peninsula and nearby small islands on the west coast of the Persian Gulf. Area: 11,427 sq km (4,412 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 539,000. Cap.: Doha. Monetary unit: Qatar riyal, with (Oct. 4, 1993) a free rate of 3.61 riyals to U.S. $1 (5.47 riyals = £1 sterling). Emir and prime minister in 1993, Sheikh Khalifah ibn Hamad ath-Thani.

      In May 1993 a border agreement, which had been struck by Qatar and Saudi Arabia on Dec. 20, 1992, was the subject of amicable talks held in the capital of Doha between Emir Sheikh Khalifah ibn Hamad ath-Thani and Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan ibn 'Abd al-Aziz as-Sa'ud. The meeting reportedly ended hostilities between the two desert states. Qatar continued, however, to maintain an independent line in foreign policy, which was sometimes at odds with other Gulf Arab partners. In April the Qatari government became the first Arab state to receive a visit by South African Foreign Minister Pik Botha, symbolizing the end of the Arab boycott of South Africa.

      The territorial dispute with Bahrain over ownership of the Hawar Islands soured Qatari relations with its neighbour. The matter, however, was scheduled for a hearing at the International Court of Justice at The Hague on Feb. 28, 1994.

      The North Field gas project, Qatar's most ambitious industrial scheme, took another step forward on January 31 when Mobil Oil Corp. purchased a 10% stake in the Qatar Liquefied Gas Co., assuring a wider market for its products. J.P. Morgan, the leading New York investment bank, was appointed financial adviser to the project and was given a mandate to advise on borrowing requirements.

      In October Qatar was host to round-robin soccer matches between the six Asian Zone nations (Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea) attempting to qualify for the 1994 World Cup in the U.S.


      This updates the article Qatar, history of (Qatar).

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Qatar, flag of  independent emirate on the west coast of the Persian Gulf.

 Occupying a small desert peninsula that extends northward from the larger Arabian Peninsula, it has been continuously but sparsely inhabited since prehistoric times. Following the rise of Islam, the region became subject to the Islamic caliphate; it later was ruled by a number of local and foreign dynasties before falling under the control of the Āl Thānī (Thānī dynasty) in the 19th century. The Āl Thānī sought British patronage against competing tribal groups and against the Ottoman Empire—which occupied the country in the late 19th and early 20th centuries—and in exchange the United Kingdom controlled Qatar's foreign policy until the latter's independence in 1971. Thereafter, the monarchy continued to nurture close ties with Western powers as a central pillar of its national security. Qatar has one of the world's largest reserves of petroleum and natural gas and employs large numbers of foreign workers in its production process. Because of its oil wealth, the country's residents enjoy a high standard of living and a well-established system of social services.

      The capital is the eastern coastal city of Doha (Al-Dawḥah), which was once a centre for pearling and is home to most of the country's inhabitants. Radiating inland from its handsome Corniche, or seaside boulevard, Doha blends premodern architecture with new office buildings, shopping malls, and apartment complexes. Qatar's traditions draw on a nomadic past and practices that are centuries old, from hand-woven products to falconry. However, the country's population is urban and coastal, its daily life is thoroughly modern, and its rulers have sought to enhance civil liberties. The press is among the freest in the region, and though they are religious and traditional, Qataris pride themselves on their tolerance for the cultures and beliefs of others. On the status of the country's large expatriate community, the ruling emir has noted that “in Qatar, they find security and a dignified livelihood.”

 Slightly smaller in area than the U.S. state of Connecticut, the Qatar peninsula (Qatar) is about 100 miles (160 km) from north to south, 50 miles (80 km) from east to west, and is generally rectangular in shape. It shares a border with eastern Saudi Arabia where the peninsula connects to the mainland and is north and west of the United Arab Emirates. The island country of Bahrain lies some 25 miles (40 km) northwest of Qatar. A territorial dispute with Bahrain was resolved in 2001, when the International Court of Justice awarded the Ḥawār Islands (just off the coast of Qatar) to Bahrain and gave Qatar sovereignty over Janān Island and the ruined fortress-town of Al-Zubārah (on the Qatari mainland). That year Qatar also signed a final border demarcation agreement with Saudi Arabia.

Relief and drainage
      Most of Qatar's area is flat, low-lying desert, which rises from the east to a central limestone plateau. Hills rise to about 130 feet (40 metres) along the western and northern coasts, and Abū al-Bawl Hill (335 feet [103 metres]) is the country's highest point. Sand dunes and salt flats, or sabkhahs, are the chief topographical features of the southern and southeastern sectors. Qatar has more than 350 miles (560 km) of coastline; its border with Saudi Arabia is some 37 miles (60 km) long. There are no permanent bodies of fresh water.

      Soils in Qatar are marked by a small degree of organic material and are generally calcareous and agriculturally unproductive. Windblown sand dunes are common, and soil distribution over bedrock is light and uneven. Soil salinity is high in coastal regions and in agricultural regions where poor regulation of irrigation has led to increased salinity.

      The climate is hot and humid from June to September, with daytime temperatures as high as 122 °F (50 °C). The spring and fall months—April, May, October, and November—are temperate, averaging about 63 °F (17 °C), and the winters are slightly cooler. Precipitation is scarce, with less than 3 inches (75 mm) falling annually (generally in winter).

Plant and animal life
      Vegetation is found only in the north, where the country's irrigated farming areas are located and where desert plants blossom briefly during the spring rains. Fauna is limited, and the government has implemented a program to protect the Arabian oryx, Qatar's national animal.

People (Qatar)

Ethnic groups and languages
      Qatar was originally settled by Bedouin nomads from the central part of the Arabian Peninsula. Qatari citizens, however, constitute only a small portion—roughly one-seventh—of the total population today. Economic growth beginning in the 1970s created an economy dependent on foreign workers—mostly from Pakistan, India, and Iran—who now far outnumber nationals. Few nomads remain.

      Arabic is the official language, and most Qataris speak a dialect of Gulf Arabic similar to that spoken in surrounding states. Modern Standard Arabic is taught in schools, and English is commonly used. Among the large expatriate population, Persian and Urdu are often spoken.

 Islam is the official religion, and Qataris are largely Sunni Muslims. There is a small Shīʿite minority. The ruling Āl Thānī (Thānī family) adheres to the same Wahhābī interpretation of Islam as the rulers of Saudi Arabia, though not as strictly. Women, for example, have greater freedom in Qatar than in Saudi Arabia.

Settlement patterns
      Qataris are largely urban dwellers; less than one-tenth of the population lives in rural areas. Doha, on the east coast, is Qatar's largest city and commercial centre and contains about half of the emirate's population. It has a deepwater port and an international airport. The main oil port and industrial centre is Umm Saʿīd, to the south of Doha on the eastern coast. Al-Rayyān, just northwest of Doha, is the country's second major urban area. These three cities and many smaller settlements are linked by roads. Of the many islands and coral reefs belonging to Qatar, Ḥālūl, in the Persian Gulf 60 miles (97 km) east of Doha, serves as a collecting and storage point for the country's three offshore oil fields.

Demographic trends
      The population of Qatar has been steadily growing; despite a markedly low death rate, however, the country's relatively low birth rate has led to a rate of natural increase that is slightly lower than the world average. Males outnumber females almost two to one— in large part because of the disproportionate number of expatriate males. The average life expectancy is about 71 years for males and 76 for females.

      Qatar's economic prosperity is derived from the extraction and export of petroleum—discovered in 1939 and first produced in 1949—and natural gas. Before World War II, Qatar's population engaged in pearling, fishing, and some trade (with little exception the only occupations available) and was one of the poorest in the world. By the 1970s, however, native Qataris enjoyed one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, despite subsequent declines in income due to fluctuations in world oil prices. Qatar's original oil concession was granted to the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC), a consortium of European and American firms. This and later concessions were nationalized in the 1970s. While state-owned Qatar Petroleum (formerly Qatar General Petroleum Corporation) oversees oil operations, private corporations continue to play an important role as service companies.

Agriculture and fishing
      The government has attempted to modernize the fishing and agriculture sectors by offering interest-free loans; yet food production continues to generate only a tiny fraction of gross domestic product (GDP). The scarcity of fertile land and water imposes severe limitations on agriculture, and a large proportion of the country's food must be imported. Use of treated sewage effluent and desalinated water for irrigation, however, has helped to expand the production of fruits such as dates and melons and vegetables such as tomatoes, squash, and eggplant, which Qatar now exports to other Persian Gulf countries. Production of meat, cereal-grains, and milk also began to increase by the end of the 20th century.

      Once the mainstays of Qatar's economy, fishing and pearling have greatly declined in importance. Pearling is almost non-existent, in large part because of Japan's dominant cultured-pearl industry. The government maintains a fishing fleet and since the late 1990s has placed greater emphasis on commercial fishing and shrimp harvesting.

Resources and power
 Qatar's petroleum reserves, found both onshore along the western coast at Dukhān and offshore from the eastern coast, are modest by regional standards. However, oil dominates Qatar's economy, accounting for much of government revenues and the country's GDP.

      In an attempt to reduce its dependency on oil, Qatar began to develop its natural gas resources in the mid-1990s. The country possesses enormous deposits of natural gas, and its offshore North Field is one of the largest gas fields in the world. To develop its gas fields, Qatar had to borrow heavily, but high oil prices in the early 21st century put the country on more firm financial footing. Qatar's strategy has been to develop its natural gas reserves aggressively through joint projects with major international oil and gas companies, focusing on the North Field.

      Qatar has sought to diversify its economy through industrialization. Most of the manufacturing sector comprises large firms of mixed state and foreign private ownership. For example, the Qatar Petrochemical Company is largely owned by a government holding company, and a French firm has a minor stake. Flour milling and cement production have also been undertaken. Diversification by expanding manufacturing depends on an abundance of cheap energy for running plants, however, and is thus tied to Qatar's hydrocarbon resources. Its natural gas reserves have been used to develop a strong liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry.

      Qatar has a relatively small banking system, which is one of the least developed of the Arab gulf states. The Qatar Central Bank (Maṣraf Qaṭar al-Markazī), founded in 1993, provides banking functions for the state and issues the Qatari rial, the national currency. In addition to domestic banks, including commercial, development, and Islamic banks (institutions bound by strict religious rules governing transactions), licensed foreign banks are also authorized to operate. Qatar has been generous in its foreign aid disbursements, particularly to other Arab and Islamic countries. The Doha Stock Exchange began operations in 1997.

      Machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, and food and live animals are Qatar's major imports. LNG, crude petroleum, and refined petroleum account for the bulk of the value of exports. Japan, South Korea, and France are among Qatar's most important trading partners—Japan alone receives by far the largest proportion of Qatar's exports, largely in the form of petroleum and petroleum products.

      The service sector, including public administration and defense, accounts for some one-fourth of GDP and employs more than half of the workforce. The country's military expenditure as percentage of gross national product is high, at nearly four times the world average. In an attempt to further diversify Qatar's economy, the government has sought to develop tourism, in particular by promoting the country as a site for international conferences; however, tourism remains a relatively small component of the economy.

Labour and taxation
      Foreigners account for the great bulk of Qatar's workforce, a matter of continuing concern for Qatari officials. Qatar has banned the employment of Egyptians since 1996, when the government claimed that Egypt was involved in an unsuccessful coup. The government has actively pursued programs to encourage employing and promoting Qatari nationals in the workforce. However, a five-year plan introduced in 2000 to boost significantly the number of Qataris in the labour force fell far short of its goals. Labour unions and associations are forbidden. As in most countries of the region, the standard workweek is Saturday through Wednesday.

      Qatar does not levy taxes on personal income nor does it have sales or value-added taxes. Foreign corporations (excluding those owned by Gulf Cooperation Council members) are taxed, but the amount accounts for less than one-tenth of the government's revenue; the bulk of its revenue comes from the sale of petroleum and natural gas.

Transportation and telecommunications
      Qatar has more than 760 miles (1,230 km) of road, nearly all of which are paved. There are no railroads. The country has several important ports, including those at Doha and Umm Saʿīd. An international airport is located at Doha, and Qatar Airways is the country's national carrier.

      Qatar Public Telecommunications Corporation (Q-Tel) is the sole provider of telecommunication services in the country. It also sets policies and makes administrative decisions for the sector. In 1996 the Internet was made available to the public, with Q-Tel as the sole service provider. Internet use is highest among Qatari nationals. A submarine fibre-optic cable system completed in the late 1990s links Qatar with Bahrain, Oman, and Kuwait.

Government and society

Constitutional framework
      Qatar is ruled by a hereditary emir from the Āl Thānī. Members of the ruling family hold almost all the major ministerial posts, which are appointed by the emir. The family, however, is large and fragmented. As oil revenues rose after World War II, contention within the ruling family grew, and there have been several bloodless palace coups.

      The emir's power is constrained by the need to maintain the support of important family members, many of whom occupy high governmental posts. The homogeneity of the ruling family and the country's wealth contribute to Qatar's political stability. The emir has also cautiously expanded political participation, allowing the first municipal elections to take place in 1999, with an electorate that included both female and male Qataris. Under a provisional constitution enacted in 1972, the emir ruled in consultation with a Council of Ministers (Majlis al-Wuzarāʾ) and an appointed Advisory Council (Majlis al-Shūrā). However, a new constitution was approved by referendum in 2003 and enacted in 2005; among its provisions was a new National Assembly, two-thirds of whose members would be popularly elected and one-third appointed.

      Qatar's legal system has several sources: the Sharīʿah (Islamic law), Ottoman law, and European civil and (to a lesser extent) common law. The latter was introduced through the borrowing of codes of other European-influenced Arab states. Personal status law is governed largely by the Sharīʿah, while criminal law is influenced but not governed by it. In addition to a Higher Judicial Council, there are also several lower courts and a system of appeals courts. The emir sometimes acts as the final court of appeal. Formal civil and criminal codes were introduced in the 1970s.

Political process
      There are no political parties in Qatar. Since 1999, Qataris have been allowed to vote in municipal elections. Voting is open to all citizens aged 18 years and older, except for members of the police and armed forces, and women are allowed to stand for public office.

      Military service is voluntary for males aged 18 years and older. Qatar has a small defense force—of some 12,000 troops, most of whom serve in the army—and the country depends on the protection of its neighbours and allies to deter possible external threats.

Health and welfare
      Health care and medical services are provided free to all residents through government programs. The government also funds recreational and cultural clubs and facilities for young people as part of its extensive “youth welfare” campaign.

      Education is free but not compulsory for all citizens between the ages of 6 and 16. Classes are segregated by sex. Qatar spends generously on education, having one of the highest per-pupil expenditures in the world. Its system has expanded rapidly. Two teacher-training faculties, one for men and one for women, were established in 1973, and together they were given university status, as the University of Qatar, in 1977. The university has continued to expand, and a new campus was completed in Doha in 1985.

      The government also provides adult education classes in schools and centres throughout the country, with an emphasis on increasing adult literacy. About four-fifths of the country's population is literate, with roughly equal proportions of males and females.

Cultural life

Daily life and social customs
 The Qatari people are descendants of Bedouin and have maintained a tradition of generous hospitality. Qatari society, however, tends to be conservative in most respects and is heavily influenced by Islamic customs. The consumption of alcohol, for example, is frowned upon, although alcohol may be served in a limited number of hotels catering mainly to foreigners. Likewise, dress is generally traditional and conservative. Qatari Arab men usually dress in a flowing white shirt (thawb) and a head scarf (kaffiyeh) held in place by a cord (ʿiqāl). Dress for Qatari women, although still conservative, is much less formal than in neighbouring Saudi Arabia. Many women still wear the full length black cloak (ʿabāyah), generally over Western clothing, but others simply wear the veil (ḥijāb). Their traditional dress is often decorated with gold or silver embroidery. In public the sexes are customarily separated.

      Qatari cuisine features fresh fish and rice cooked with Indian spices. A typical meal might include broiled fish served on a bed of spiced rice with curry and potatoes. Coffee is the beverage of choice and is usually served strong, boiling hot, and without sugar. The capital of Doha also abounds in restaurants offering cuisines from throughout the world.

      Qataris celebrate the standard Islamic holidays, including Ramadan and the two ʿīds, Īd al-Fiṭrʿ and Īd al-Aḍḥāʿ. They also celebrate several secular holidays, such as Independence Day and the anniversary of the emir's ascension to power.

The arts
      The Qatari Fine Arts Society promotes and exhibits work by local painters, as do the handful of galleries to be found in Doha. The National Council for Culture, Arts, and Heritage and several other agencies and departments oversee literary, artistic, and cultural activities as well as recreation and tourism. The traditional Bedouin arts of weaving (mostly rugs and pillows), poetry, and singing are still practiced. A genre of music known as nahmah, once popular among pearl divers in Qatar and the broader Persian Gulf region, virtually disappeared with the decline of the pearling industry, although the Qatari government has made great efforts to preserve it. Arab, Pakistani, Indian, and other expatriate workers have brought their musical styles to the country, but Qatari youth listen more to Western and Arab popular music than to Bedouin or other traditional forms.

Cultural institutions
      Located in a former palace, the Qatar National Museum (founded 1975), in Doha, includes displays on the country's history and archaeology as well as a model lagoon in which Qatari sailing and pearling vessels are featured; the museum's large aquarium is a popular attraction. A fort at Doha has been converted into a museum for traditional crafts. Qatar's National Theatre performs programs in the capital.

Sports and recreation
      Qatar's sports culture blends the traditional sports of Arabia's desert society with contemporary sports of Western origin. Popular traditional sports include Arabian horse racing, camel racing, and falconry, all rooted in the country's nomadic past. Western sports such as basketball, golf, handball, football (soccer), swimming, table tennis, track, and volleyball are practiced widely, but primarily by the expatriate population; football is overwhelmingly the most popular of these. The country also hosts several annual sporting events, of which tennis, golf, and automobile racing are the most notable. Founded in 1961, the Qatar National Sport Federation serves as an organizing body for sports education. Qatar made its Olympic debut at the 1984 Summer Games; the country has never participated in the Winter Games.

Media and publishing
      Government-owned radio and television stations broadcast in Arabic, English, French, and Urdu (Urdu language). Satellite television transmissions from outside the country are easily accessible through local providers, and Qatar receives radio broadcasts from the neighbouring gulf states and from such international broadcasters as the BBC World Service. In 1996 media restrictions in Qatar were relaxed—the country's press is among the freest in the region—and that year al-Jazeera, a satellite television network, was founded by a member of the ruling family. The outspoken news channel is received throughout much of the Muslim world and has become one of the most popular stations in the Middle East, as well as one of the most important sources of news in a region where there is little toleration for a free press. It became internationally known in 2001 after broadcasting several speeches and interviews of the militant Islamist Osama bin Laden (bin Laden, Osama). Several local daily newspapers and weekly publications are also available in Qatar.

      Little is known of Qatar's history before the 18th century, when the region's population consisted largely of Bedouin nomads and there were only a few small fishing villages. Qatar's modern history begins conventionally in 1766 with the migration to the peninsula of families from Kuwait, notably the Āl Khalīfah. Their settlement at the new town of Al-Zubārah grew into a small pearl-diving and trade centre. In 1783 the Āl Khalīfah led the conquest of nearby Bahrain, where they remained the ruling family throughout the 20th century. Following the departure of the Āl Khalīfah from Qatar, the country was ruled by a series of transitory sheikhs, the most famous of whom was Raḥmah ibn Jābir al-Jalāhimah, who was regarded by the British (British Empire) as a leading pirate of the so-called Pirate Coast.

      Qatar came to the attention of the British in 1867 when a dispute between the Bahraini Āl Khalīfah, who continued to hold some claim to Al-Zubārah, and the Qatari residents escalated into a major confrontation, in the course of which Doha was virtually destroyed. Until the attack, Britain had viewed Qatar as a Bahraini dependency. It then signed a separate treaty with Muḥammad ibn Thānī in 1868, setting the course both for Qatar's future independence and for the rule of the Āl Thānī, who until the treaty were only one among several important families on the peninsula.

      Ottoman (Ottoman Empire) forces, which had conquered the nearby Al-Ḥasā province of Saudi Arabia, occupied Qatar in 1871 at the invitation of the ruler's son, then left following the Saudi reconquest of Al-Ḥasā in 1913. In 1916 Britain signed a treaty with Qatar's leader that resembled earlier agreements with other gulf states, giving Britain control over foreign policy in return for British protection.

      In 1935 Qatar signed a concession agreement with the Iraq Petroleum Company; four years later oil was discovered. Oil was not recovered on a commercial scale, however, until 1949. The revenues from the oil company, later named Petroleum Development (Qatar) Limited and then the Qatar Petroleum Company, rose dramatically. The distribution of these revenues stirred serious infighting in the Āl Thānī, prompting the British to intervene in the succession of 1949 and eventually precipitating a palace coup in 1972 that brought Sheikh Khalīfah ibn Ḥamad Āl Thānī (Thāni, Shaykh Khalīfa ibn Hạmad al-) to power. In 1968 Britain announced plans to withdraw from the gulf. After negotiations with neighbouring sheikhdoms—those comprising the present United Arab Emirates and Bahrain—Qatar declared independence on September 1, 1971. The earlier agreements with Britain were replaced with a treaty of friendship. That same month, Qatar became a member of the Arab League and of the United Nations. In 1981 the emirate joined its five Arab gulf neighbours in establishing the Gulf Cooperation Council, an alliance formed to promote economic cooperation and enhance both internal security and external defense against the threats generated by the Islamic revolution in Iran and the Iran-Iraq War.

      Qatari troops participated in the Persian Gulf War of 1990–91, notably in the battle for control of the Saudi border town of Raʿs al-Khafjī on January 30–31. Doha, which served as a base for offensive strikes by French, Canadian, and U.S. aircraft against Iraq and the Iraqi forces occupying Kuwait, remained minimally affected by the conflict.

      Renewed arguments over the distribution of oil revenues also caused the 1995 palace coup that brought Sheikh Khalīfah's son, Sheikh Ḥamad, to power. Although his father had permitted Ḥamad to take over day-to-day governing some years before, Khalīfah contested the coup. Before Ḥamad fully consolidated his power, he had to weather an attempted countercoup in 1996 and a protracted lawsuit with his father over the rightful ownership of billions of dollars of invested oil revenues, which was finally settled out of court.

      During the 1990s Qatar agreed to permit U.S. military forces to place equipment in several sites throughout the country and granted them use of Qatari airstrips during U.S. operations in Afghanistan in 2001. These agreements were formalized in late 2002, and Qatar became the headquarters for American and allied military operations in Iraq the following year.

John Duke Anthony Jill Ann Crystal

Additional Reading
Comparative coverage with the other Persian Gulf states is provided by Helen Chapin Metz (ed.), Persian Gulf States: Country Studies, 3rd ed. (1994); F. Gregory Gause, III, Oil Monarchies: Domestic and Security Challenges in the Arab Gulf States (1994); Rosemarie Said Zahlan, The Making of the Modern Gulf States, rev. and updated ed. (1998); Khaldoun Hasan al-Naqeeb, Society and State in the Gulf and Arab Peninsula: A Different Perspective, trans. from Arabic (1990); and Michael Herb, All in the Family: Absolutism, Revolution, and Democracy in the Middle Eastern Monarchies (1999). Historical overviews are found in Frederick F. Anscombe, The Ottoman Gulf: The Creation of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar (1997); and Rosemarie Said Zahlan, The Creation of Qatar (1979). Sources on social conditions include Klaus Ferdinand, Bedouins of Qatar, trans. from Danish (1993); and Abeer Abu Saud, Qatari Women: Past and Present (1984). Ragaei El Mallakh, Qatar: Energy and Development (1985); and Zuhair Ahmed Nafi, Economic and Social Development in Qatar (1983), examine economic issues. Nathan J. Brown, The Rule of Law in the Arab World: Courts in Egypt and the Gulf (1997), is a study of the judicial system. An analysis of historical and contemporary politics is provided by Jill Crystal, Oil and Politics in the Gulf: Rulers and Merchants in Kuwait and Qatar, updated ed. (1995).Jill Ann Crystal

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Universalium. 2010.

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