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For criticism see Criticism of Qatar
State of Qatar
دولة قطر
Dawlat Qaá¹­ar
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AnthemAs Salam al Amiri
(and largest city)
25°18′N 51°31′E / 25.300°N 51.517°E / 25.300; 51.517
Official language(s) Arabic
Demonym Qatari
Government Absolute Monarchy
 -  Emir Hamad bin Khalifa
 -  Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani
 -  current ruling family came to power December 18 1878 
 -  independence from the United Kingdom
September 3 1971 
 -  Total 11,437 km2 (164th)
4,416 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) negligible
 -  Aug estimate 1,450,000[4] (148th)
 -  census 744,029[5] (159th)
 -  Density 74/km2 (121st)
192/sq mi
GDP (PPP) estimate
 -  Total $95.130 billion[1] 
 -  Per capita $86,669[1] 
GDP (nominal) estimate
 -  Total $116.851billion[1] 
 -  Per capita $106,459[1] 
HDI  increase 0.875 (high) (35th)
Currency Riyal (QAR)
Time zone AST (UTC+3)
 -  Summer (DST) (not observed) (UTC+3)
Internet TLD .qa
Calling code 974

Qatar (Arabic: قطر ‎; IPA: [ˈqÉ‘tˁɑr],[2] local pronunciation: giá¹­ar),[3] officially the State of Qatar (Arabic: دولة قطر transliterated as Dawlat Qatar), is an Arab emirate in Southwest Asia, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeasterly coast of the larger Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south; otherwise the Persian Gulf surrounds the state. An oil rich nation, Qatar has the highest GDP per capita in the world according to the CIA. [cn]


Sources say 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. The word "Qatara" first appeared on Ptolemy's map of the Arabian Peninsula. [cn]

In Standard Arabic, the name is pronounced IPA: [ˈqɑtˁɑr], while the local dialect pronounces it giṭar.[3] In English-language broadcast media within Qatar—for example, television commercials for Qatar Airways and advertisements concerning economic development in Qatar—the name is pronounced "KA-tar", with a distinct differentiation between the syllables from the forming of the 't' sound.


Zubara fort, in northeastern Qatar

During the pre-Islamic era, the peninsula was often dominated by various foreign powers, such as Persian dynasties, the last of which (the Sasanians) included the Qatar peninsula, which they called Meshmahig ("Big Island"), in the large region of Bahran/Bahrain with its capital once at Shirin (probably, the modern Qatif). This province included the island of Bahrain and the coastal regions of modern Saudi Arabia.

In the Islamic era, Qatar was one of the earliest locales to convert to Islam. The sect of the Qarmatians arrived in the area very early during the Islamic era and spread their influence widely in the Gulf, as they did in the neighboring Hasa region. In medieval times, Qatar was more often than not independent and a participant in the great Persian Gulf-Indian Ocean commerce. Many races and ideas were introduced into the peninsula from Africa, South and Southeast Asia, as well as the Malay archipelago. Today, the traces of these early interactions with the oceanic world of the Indian Ocean survive in the small minorities of races, peoples, languages and religions, such as the presence of Africans and Shihus.

After centuries-long domination by the Ottoman and British empires, Qatar became an independent state on September 3, 1971.

Although the peninsular 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. Clans such as the Al Khalifa and the Al Saud (which would later ascend thrones of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia respectively) swept through the Arabian peninsula and camped on the coasts within small fishing and pearling villages.

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 oil and other hydrocarbons in the early twentieth century would re-invigorate their interest. During the nineteenth 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 quash the Qatari rebels, sending a massive naval force to Wakrah. However, the Bahraini aggression was in violation on the 1820 Anglo-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. 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 respected entrepreneur and long-time resident of Doha, Muhammed bin Thani. His clan, the Al Thanis, had taken relatively little part in 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 Qatar with a new-found sense of political selfhood, although it did not gain official standing as a British protectorate until 1916.

Doha Palace

The reach of the British Empire diminished after the Second World War, 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 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 seven-emirate United Arab Emirates. On September 3, 1971, Qatar became an independent sovereign state.

In 1991, Qatar played a significant role in the Gulf War, particularly during the Battle of Khafji in which Qatari tanks rolled through the streets of the town providing fire support for Saudi Arabian National Guard units which were fighting against units of the Iraqi Army. Qatar also allowed Coalition troops from Canada to use the country as an airbase to launch aircraft on CAP duty.

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, a leading English and Arabic news source which operates a website and satellite television news channel.

The International Monetary Fund states that Qatar has the highest GDP per capita in the world, followed by Luxembourg. The World Factbook ranks Qatar at second, following Luxembourg.

Qatar served as the headquarters and one of the main launching sites of the US invasion of Iraq [6] in.

In March a suicide-bombing killed a British teacher at the Doha Players Theatre, 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.[4][5]

Government and politics

Administrative divisions

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Qatar is divided into ten municipalities (Arabic: baladiyah), also occasionally or rarely translated as governorates or provinces:

  1. Ad Dawhah
  2. Al Ghuwariyah
  3. Al Jumaliyah
  4. Al Khawr
  5. Al Wakrah
  6. Ar Rayyan
  7. Jariyan al Batnah
  8. Ash Shamal
  9. Umm Salal
  10. Mesaieed


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Qatar's capital, Doha.

Before the discovery of oil, the economy of the Qatari region focused on fishing and pearling. After the introduction of the Japanese cultured pearl onto the world market in the 1920s and 1930s, Qatar's pearling industry faltered. 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.

Qatar’s national income primarily derives from oil and natural gas exports. The country has oil estimated at 15 billion barrels (2.4 km³), while gas reserves in the giant north field (South Pars for Iran) which straddles the border with Iran and are almost as large as the peninsula itself are estimated to be between 800 trillion cubic feet (23,000 km3) to 80 trillion cubic feet (2,300 km3) (1 trillion cubic foot is equivalent to about 80 million barrels (13,000,000 m3) of oil). Qatar is sometimes referred to as the Saudi Arabia of natural gas. 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 [6] and the highest GDP per capita in the world according to the CIA,[7] though it was previously the United Arab Emirates that was the wealthiest Arab country according to the University of Pennsylvania.[8] With no income tax, Qatar is also one of the two least-taxed sovereign states in the world (the other is Bahrain).

The Aspire Tower, built for the Asian Games, is visible across Doha, and is now a hotel. While oil and gas will probably remain the backbone of Qatar’s economy for some time to come, the country seeks to stimulate the private sector and develop a “knowledge economy”. In 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 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 its official bid to host the Summer Olympics in October.[9] Qatar also plans to build an "entertainment city" in the future.

Qatar is aiming to become a role model for economic and social transformation in the region. Large scale investment in all social and economic sectors will also lead to the development of a strong financial market.

The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) provides financial institutions with a world class financial services platform situated in an economy founded on the development of its hydrocarbons resources. 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 the capacity of its financial services to support more than $130 billion worth of projects, the QFC also provides a conduit for financial services providers to access nearly $1 trillion of investment across the GCC as a whole over the next decade.

The largest project ever in Qatar, the new town of Lusail, is under construction.


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Desert landscape in Qatar
Map of Qatar

The Qatari peninsula juts 100 miles (161 km) north into the Persian Gulf from Saudi Arabia and is slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut, USA. Much of the country consists of a low, barren plain, covered with sand. To the southeast lies the spectacular Khor al Adaid (“Inland Sea”), an area of rolling sand dunes surrounding an inlet of the 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)[7] in the Jebel Dukhan to the west, a range of low limestone outcrops 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.


Almost all Qataris profess Islam. Besides ethnic Arabs, much of the population migrated from various nations to work in the country’s oil industry. Arabic serves as the official language. However, English as well as many other languages like Hindi, Malayalam, Urdu, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, and Persian are widely spoken in Qatar.

Expatriates form the majority of Qatar’s residents. The petrochemical industry has attracted people from all around the world. Most of the expatriates come from South Asia and from non-oil-rich Arab states. Because a large percentage of the expatriates are male, Qatar has a heavily skewed sex ratio, with 1.8528 males per female.[7]

In July the country had a growing population of approximately 907,229 people,[7] of whom approximately 350,000 were believed to be citizens.[10] Of the citizen population, Sunni Muslims form a majority, while the Shi'a Muslims count up to 10-13% of the population. The Wahhabi Muslims form the third group in size, probably no more than 10% of the population, to include the ruling dynasty and a large number of the elite families. The ancient Shia community of Qatar are historically related to the Shia majority in Bahrain and the al-Hasa coastal province of Saudi Arabia.

The majority of the estimated 800,000 non-citizens are individuals from South and South East Asian and Arab countries working on temporary employment contracts in most cases without their accompanying family members. They are of the following faiths: Sunni Muslims, Shi'a Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Bahá'ís. Most foreign workers and their families live near the major employment centers of Doha, Al Khor, Messaeed, and Dukhan.

No foreign missionary groups operate openly in the country but in the government allowed some churches to conduct mass. In March the Roman Catholic church “Our Lady of the Rosary” was consecrated in Doha.

Year Month Population
1908 est. 26,000 - 27,000[11]
1939 est. 28,000[11]
late 1960s 70,000[12]
1986 369,079
1997 522,023[13]
2000 744,483
2001 769,152
2002 793,341
2003 817,052
2004 840,290
2005 863,051
2006 885,359
2007 907,229
2008 1,407,000[14]



See also: Music of Qatar

Qatari culture (music, art, dress, and cuisine) is extremely similar to that of other Gulf Arab countries. Arab tribes from Saudi Arabia migrate to Qatar and other places in the Gulf; therefore, the culture in the Gulf region varies little from country to country.

Qatar explicitly uses Sunni law as the basis of its government, and the vast majority of its citizens follow Hanbali Madhhab. Hanbali (Arabic: حنبلى ) is one of the four schools (Madhhabs) of Fiqh or religious law within Sunni Islam (The other three are 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 (rusul) were different, they came to different judgments on particular matters. Shi'as comprise 10% of the Muslim population in Qatar.

Qatari law

When contrasted with other Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, for instance, Qatar has comparatively liberal laws, but is still not as liberal as some of its neighbours like UAE or Bahrain. Qatar is a civil law jurisdiction. However, Shari'a or Islamic law is applied to aspects of family law, inheritance and certain criminal acts. Women can legally drive in Qatar, whereas they may not in Saudi Arabia and there is a strong emphasis in equality and human rights brought by the HRA.

The country has undergone a period of liberalization and modernisation during the reign of the current Emir, Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, who came to power in 1995. Under his rule, Qatar became the first Arab country in the Persian Gulf where women gained the right to vote[18] as well as holding senior positions in government. Also, women can dress mostly as they please in public (although in practice local Qatari women generally don the black abaya). Before the liberalisation, it was taboo for men to wear shorts in public. The laws of Qatar tolerate alcohol to a certain extent. However, public bars and nightclubs in Qatar operate only in expensive hotels and clubs, much like in the UAE, though the number of establishments has yet to equal that of UAE. Non-Muslim expatriates resident in Qatar are eligible to receive liquor permits permitting them to purchase alcohol for personal use through Qatar Distribution Company, the exclusive importer and retailer for alcohol in Qatar. Qatar has further been liberalised due to the 15th Asian Games, but is cautious of becoming too liberal in their law. Overall Qatar has yet to reach the more western laws of UAE or Bahrain, and though plans are being made for more development, the government is cautious.


The Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar

In recent years Qatar has placed great emphasis on education. Along with the country’s free healthcare, citizens enjoy free education from kindergarten through to high school. Qatar University was founded in 1973. More recently, with the support of the Qatar Foundation, some major American universities have opened branch campuses in Education City, Qatar. These include Carnegie Mellon University, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Texas A&M University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Cornell University’s Weill Medical College. In addition, Northwestern University will offer undergraduate programs in communication and journalism starting in fall. In 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.

Moreover,Stenden University Qatar (Former CHN University of Professional Education) has been around in Doha for 8 years. It offers four year bachelor degree programs (BBA) in International Hospitality Management, International Business & Management Studies, and Tourism Management. It is a Dutch university and its programs are fully accredited by Ministry of Education, Qatar.

In November the Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani created the Supreme Education Council.[19] 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”[20] 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.


Hamad Medical Corporation is the primary, publicly funded healthcare provider for the State of Qatar. It has formed partnerships with Western healthcare concerns, including University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Toronto's Sick Children's Hospital.


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 - 2 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean) and 1 Arabsat. People can call to Qatar using their submarine cable, satellite or using VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol); 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 been permanently blocked.

Qtel’s ISP branch, Internet Qatar, uses SmartFilter to block websites they deem inappropriate to Qatari interests and morality.

Vodafone, in partnership with Qatar Foundation, has been announced to be opening in Qatar in mid.

Al Jazeera (Arabic: الجزيرة‎, al-ğazīrä, [al.dʒaˈziː.ra], meaning “The Island”) is a television network headquartered in Doha, Qatar. Al Jazeera initially launched as an Arabic news and current affairs satellite TV channel of the same name, but has since expanded into a network of several specialty TV channels. Print media is going through expansion, with over 3 English dailies and Arabic titles. The magazine segment is dominated by Qatar Today, which is the country's only news, business monthly magazine. It is published by Oryx Advertising Co, which is the largest magazine publisher of the country. The group also brings out several titles like Qatar Al Youm, Qatar's only Arabic monthly business magazine, Woman Today, the only working women's magazine and GLAM, the only fashion title.

Human rights and labour

According to the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report, men and women who are lured into Qatar by promises of high wages are often forced into underpaid labour. The report states that Qatari laws against forced labour are rarely enforced and that labour laws often result in the detention of victims in deportation centers pending the completion of legal proceedings. The report ranks Qatar at Tier-3, which groups countries that neither satisfy the minimum standards nor demonstrate a significant effort to come into compliance.[21][22]

The Government of Qatar maintains that it is setting the benchmark when it comes to human rights[23] and treatment of labourers.

Qatari contracting agency Barwa is constructing a residential area for labourers known as Barwa Al Baraha (also called Workers City). The project was launched after a recent scandal in Dubai's Labour 'Slave' camps. The project aims to provide a reasonable standard of living as defined by the new Human Rights Legislation.[24] The Barwa Al Baraha will cost around $1.1 billion and will be a completely integrated city in the Industrial area of Doha. Along with 4.25 square metres of living space per person, the residential project will provide parks, recreational areas, malls, and shops for labourers. Phase one of the project is set to be completed at the end of while all phases will be complete by mid.[25]

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Qatar". International Monetary Fund. 
  2. The pronunciation of Qatar in English varies; see List of words of disputed pronunciation for details. In terms of English phonemics, the vowels sound halfway between short u /ʌ/ and broad a /ɑ/. The q and the t have no direct counterparts, but are closest to the unaspirated allophones of English k and t. However, since these allophones cannot occur in these positions in English, in this context they will sound more like English g and d. So the closest pronunciation, according to English phonemics, to the original Arabic might be /ˈgɑdər/ or /ˈgʌdər/
  3. 3.0 3.1 Johnstone, T.M. "Ķaṭar." Encyclopaedia of Islam. Edited by: P. Bearman , Th. Bianquis , C.E. Bosworth , E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill. Brill Online. 04 April [1]
  4. Coman, Julian (March 21). "Egyptian Suicide Bomber Blamed for Attack in Qatar". The Independent. 
  5. "The Advent of Terrorism in Qatar". Forbes. March 25. 
  6. International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database, October for the year: Countries
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 "Qatar". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. 
  8. Alan Heston, Robert Summers and Bettina Aten, Penn World Table Version 6.2, Center for International Comparisons of Production, Income and Prices at the University of Pennsylvania, September. [2]
  9. "Doha bid brings wind of change". aljazeera (Doha: Al Jazeera). 
  10. "Qatar". International Religious Freedom Report. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor - United States Department of State. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 The population of Qatar
  12. Qatar - Country overview, Location and size, Population, Industry, Mining, Manufacturing, Services, Tourism
  13. CGIS Home Page - Main Section
  14. [3]
  15. Current population in Qatar, Doha
  16. CIA - The World Factbook - Qatar
  17. Qatar's population doubles since '04 - Politics & Economics - ArabianBusiness
  18. Elbagir, Nima. "The role of Saudi women". Channel 4.  Link to the full Channel 4 video report.
  19. "About the SEC". Supreme Education Council. 
  20. "Education for a New Era". Supreme Education Council. 
  21. "Country Narratives -- Countries Q through Z". Trafficking in Persons Report. Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, United States Department of State. 
  22. "India escapes U.S. list of worst human traffickers". cnn (Washington: Cable News Network). 
  23. "Qatar: National Human Rights Committee report". Qatar National Human Rights Committee. . According to the source at zawya, the web link “ the unofficial translation by The Peninsula team of the 57-page Arabic text of the report released by the National Human Rights Committee yesterday.”
  24. "Qatar: National Human Rights Committee Support Expats". The Peninsula via iLoveQatar. 
  25. Bowman, D. "Qatar to build $1.1bn labourer city". ArabianBusiness (Dubai: ITP Digital Publishing). 

See also

External links

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Qatar Statistics Authority
  • ILQ News and Information
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