Qatar

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For other places with the same name, see Qatar (disambiguation).
State of Qatar
دولة قطر
Dawlaṫ Qaṭar
Flag Emblem
Anthem: السلام الأميري (Arabic)
As Salam al Amiri  (transliteration)
Amiri Salute

Location and extent of Qatar (dark green) on the Arabian Peninsula.
Location and extent of Qatar (dark green) on the Arabian Peninsula.
Capital
and largest city
Doha
25°18′N 51°31′E / 25.300°N 51.517°E / 25.300; 51.517
Official languages Arabic
Demonym Qatari
Government Unitary parliamentary absolute monarchy
 -  Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani
 -  Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani
Legislature Consultative Assembly
Establishment
 -  Qatar National Day 18 December 1878 
 -  Declared Independence
1 September 1971 
 -  Independence from the United Kingdom
3 September 1971 
Area
 -  Total 11,571 km2 (164th)
4,467.6 sq mi
 -  Water (%) negligible
Population
 -  2014 estimate 2,155,446[1] (142nd)
 -  2010 census 1,699,435[2] (148th)
 -  Density 176/km2 (76th)
455/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2014 estimate
 -  Total $214.575 billion[3]
 -  Per capita $96,993[3] (1st)
GDP (nominal) 2014 estimate
 -  Total $213.784 billion[3]
 -  Per capita $102,785[3] (2nd)
Gini (2007) 41.1[4]
medium
HDI (2013) Steady 0.851[5]
very high · 31st
Currency Riyal (QAR)
Time zone AST (UTC+3)
Drives on the right
Calling code +974
ISO 3166 code QA
Internet TLD

Qatar (Listeni/ˈkɑːtɑr/, /ˈkɑːtər/ or Listeni/kəˈtɑr/;[6] Arabic: قطرQatar [ˈqɑtˤɑr]; local vernacular pronunciation: [ɡɪtˤɑr]),[7] officially the State of Qatar (Arabic: دولة قطرDawlaṫ Qatar), is a sovereign Arab country located in Western Asia, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its territory surrounded by the Persian Gulf. A strait in the Persian Gulf separates Qatar from the nearby island kingdom of Bahrain. In 2013, Qatar's total population was 1.8 million; 278,000 Qatari citizens and 1.5 million expatriates.[8]

Following Ottoman rule, Qatar became a British protectorate in the early 20th century until gaining independence in 1971. Qatar has been ruled by the Al Thani family since the mid-19th century. Qatar is an absolute monarchy and its head of state is Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.[9] After Saudi Arabia, Qatar is the most conservative society in the GCC[10][11] as most Qataris adhere to the strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam.[12][13][14] Sharia law is the main source of Qatari legislation according to Qatar's Constitution.[15][16]

Qatar is the world's richest country per capita and has the highest human development in the Arab World; furthermore, it is recognized as a high income economy by the World Bank.[17][18] Qatar has the world's third largest natural gas reserves and oil reserves in excess of 25 billion barrels. Qatar has become an influential player in the Arab world. Qatar supported several rebel groups during the Arab Spring both financially and by asserting global influence through its expanding media group, Al Jazeera Media Network.[19][20][21] Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, becoming the first Arab country to host the event.[22]

Etymology[edit]

The name Qatar may derive from an ancient trading port or town in the region, which was known by the same name during its time.

In Standard Arabic, the name is pronounced [ˈqɑtˤɑr], while in the local dialect it is [ˈɡitˤar].[7]

History[edit]

A site located south of Zubarah indicates human presence from 7,500 years ago. Amongst the findings were a wall built of stone, possibly used as a fish trap.[23] The first potsherds of the Ubaid civilization were found in 1961.[24] Contact between the people of Mesopotamia and the Eastern Arabian coast (including Qatar) continued over centuries.

In the 10th century, migrants established pearling settlements along the coast of Qatar. In the early part of the century, the Bani Khalid people extended their power in Eastern Arabia to the area from Qatar to Southern Iraq. Qatar's Zubarah, which had emerged as one of the Persian Gulf's key sea ports, became the headquarters of the Bani Khalid administration in Qatar and the principal transit port for their Eastern and the Central Arabian territories. Some of the imported goods were retained at Zubarah for consumption there and in the immediate vicinity, while the remainder were conveyed by camel to Dariyah in Nejd and to Al Hasa, taking in the other districts under the jurisdiction of Bani Khalid.

Bahraini rule (1783–1868)[edit]

In 1783, the Al Khalifa family of Bahrain invaded and annexed Qatar.[25]

In 1821, as punishment for piracy, an East India Company vessel bombarded Doha, destroying the town and forcing hundreds of residents to flee. The residents of Doha had no idea why they were being attacked. As a result, Qatari rebel groups began to emerge to fight the Al-Khalifas and to seek independence from Bahrain. In 1825, the House of Thani was established with Sheikh Mohammed bin Thani as the first leader.[26]

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 an effort to crush the Qatari rebels, sending a massive naval force to Al Wakrah. This resulted in the maritime Qatari–Bahraini War of 1867–1868, where Bahraini forces sacked and looted Doha and Al Wakrah.[27] However, the Bahraini aggression was in violation of the 1820 Anglo-Bahraini Treaty. This attack, and the Qatari counterattack, prompted the British political agent, Colonel Lewis Pelly, to impose a settlement in 1868. His mission to Bahrain and Qatar and the peace treaty that resulted were milestones in Qatar's history because they implicitly recognized the distinctness of Qatar from Bahrain and explicitly acknowledged the position of Sheikh Mohammed bin Thani, an important representative of the peninsula's tribes. The diplomatic response of the British to this violation set into motion the political forces that would lead to the founding of the state of Qatar on 18 December 1878 (for this reason, the date of 18 December is celebrated each year as Qatar National Day). In addition to censuring Bahrain for its breach of agreement, the British Protectorate (per Colonel Lewis Pelly) asked to negotiate with a representative from Qatar.

The request carried with it a tacit recognition of Qatar's status as distinct from Bahrain. The Qataris chose as their negotiator the entrepreneur and long-time resident of Doha, Muhammed bin Thani. The Al Thanis had taken relatively little part in Persian Gulf politics, but the diplomatic foray ensured their participation in the movement towards independence and their hegemony as the future ruling family, a dynasty that continues to this day. The results of the negotiations left the nation with a new-found sense of political identity, although it did not gain official standing as a British protectorate until 1916.

Ottoman rule (1871–1916)[edit]

Qatar in an 1891 Adolf Stieler map

Under military and political pressure from the Governor of the Ottoman Vilayet of Baghdad, Midhat Pasha, the House of Thani in Qatar submitted to Ottoman rule in 1871.[28] By the end of that year, Ottoman rule extended from Kuwait to Qatar.[28] The Ottoman government imposed reformist (Tanzimat) measures concerning taxation and land registration to fully integrate these areas into the empire.[28]

In March 1893, at the Battle of Wajbah (10 miles west of Doha), Shaikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani defeated the Ottomans. Although Qatar did not gain full independence from the Ottoman Empire, the result of the battle forced a treaty that would later form the basis of Qatar emerging as an autonomous separate country within the empire.[29]

The British initially sought out Qatar and the Persian Gulf as an intermediary vantage point en route to their colonial interests in India; although, the discovery of petroleum and natural gas in the early 20th century would reinvigorate their interest. During the 19th century, the time of Britain's formative ventures into the region, the Al Khalifa clan reigned over the northern Qatari peninsula from the nearby island of Bahrain to the west.

British rule (1916–1971)[edit]

The Ottoman Empire fell into disorder after losing battles in different fronts in the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I. Qataris took part in the Arab revolt against the Ottomans. The revolt was successful and Ottoman rule in Qatar collapsed.

The United Kingdom and the Ottoman Empire accorded their recognition to Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani and his successors' right to rule over the whole of the Qatari Peninsula. The Ottomans renounced all their rights to Qatar and following the outbreak of the First World War, Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani, who was pro-British, forced the Ottomans to abandon Doha in 1915.[30]

As a result of the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire, Qatar became a British protectorate on 3 November 1916. On that day, the United Kingdom, to bring Qatar under its Trucial System of Administration, signed a treaty with Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani. While Sheikh Abdullah agreed not to enter into any relations with any other power without prior consent of the British Government, Percy Zachariah Cox, the Political Resident in the Persian Gulf, who signed the treaty on behalf of his government, guaranteed the protection of Qatar "from all aggression by sea".[30]

On 5 May 1935, Sheikh Abdullah signed another treaty, which was able to obtain Britain's agreement for the protection of Qatar from inside as well as any attacks from external forces.[30] Oil reserves were first discovered in 1939. However, exploitation was delayed by World War II.

The reach of the British Empire diminished after World War II, especially following the Independence of India and Pakistan in 1947. In the 1950s, oil was beginning to replace pearling and fishing as Qatar's main source of revenue. Oil revenues began to fund the expansion and modernization of Qatar's infrastructure. Pressure for a British withdrawal from the Arab emirates in the Persian Gulf increased during the 1950s, and the British granted Kuwait's independence in 1961. When Britain officially announced in 1968 that it would disengage politically (though not economically) from the Persian Gulf in three years' time, Qatar joined Bahrain and seven other Trucial States in a federation. Regional disputes, however, quickly compelled Qatar to resign and declare independence from the coalition that would evolve into the United Arab Emirates.

Independence (1971)[edit]

Traditional dhows in front of the West Bay skyline as seen from the Doha Corniche.

On 3 September 1971, Qatar officially gained its independence from the United Kingdom and became an independent sovereign state.[31] In 1972, Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani seized power in a palace coup after infighting in the ruling family. In 1974, the Qatar General Petroleum Corporation took control of all oil operations in the country, and Qatar rapidly became a rich country.[32]

In 1991, Qatar played a significant role in the Persian 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.

In 1995, Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani seized control of the country from his father Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, with the support of the armed forces and cabinet, and neighboring states.[33] Under Emir Hamad, Qatar has experienced a moderate degree of liberalisation, including the launch of the Al Jazeera television station (1996), the endorsement of women's suffrage or right to vote in municipal elections (1999), drafting its first written constitution (2005), and inauguration of a Roman Catholic church (2008). In 2010, Qatar was selected to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and will be the first country in the Middle East to host the tournament. The Emir says Qatar will hold its first national legislative elections in 2013.

Qatar served as the US Central Command headquarters and one of the main launching sites of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.[34] In March 2005, a suicide bombing killed a British teacher at the Doha Players Theater, shocking for a country that had not previously experienced acts of terrorism. The bombing was carried out by Omar Ahmed Abdullah Ali, an Egyptian residing in Qatar, who had suspected ties to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.[35][36] In 2011, Qatar joined NATO operations in Libya and reportedly armed Libyan opposition groups.[37] It is also currently a major funder of weapons for rebel groups in the Syrian civil war.[38] Qatar is pursuing an Afghan peace deal and in January 2012 the Afghan Taliban said they were setting up a political office in Qatar to facilitate talks.

In June 2013, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani became the Emir of Qatar after his father handed over power in a televised speech.[39] Sheikh Tamin has prioritized improving the domestic welfare of Qataris, including establishing advanced healthcare and education systems and expanding the country's infrastructure in advance of hosting the 2022 World Cup.[40]

Government and politics[edit]

Main article: Politics of Qatar
Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani with US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

Qatar's monarchy is the Al Thani family. The Al Thani dynasty has been ruling Qatar since the family house was established in 1825.[41] There is no independent legislature, and political parties are forbidden.[42] Parliamentary elections, which were originally promised for 2005, have been postponed indefinitely.[42]

The eighth Emir of Qatar is Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, whose father Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani handed power to him on 25 June 2013.[43] The supreme chancellor has the exclusive power to appoint and remove the prime minister and cabinet ministers who, together, constitute the Council of Ministers, which is the supreme executive authority in the country.[44] The Council of Ministers also initiates legislation. Laws and decrees proposed by the Council of Ministers are referred to the Advisory Council (Majilis Al Shura) for discussion after which they are submitted to the Emir for ratification.[44]

A Consultative Assembly or Majlis Al-Shura has limited legislative authority to draft and approve laws, but the Emir has final say on all matters.[41] The Council is composed entirely of members appointed by the Emir,[41] as no legislative elections have been held since 1970 when there were partial elections to the body.[41]

In 2003, Qatar adopted a new constitution that provided for the direct election of 30 of the 45 members of Advisory Council.[41][45] These elections have been announced, and then postponed, several times.[45] In 2011 the seventh Emir announced that elections to the council would be held in the second half of 2013.[46] The planned 2013 elections, however, were "in effect indefinitely postponed" in June 2013 after the retiring Emir extended the Consultative Assembly's term, prior to transferring power to his son.[47]

An elected 29-member Central Municipal Council (CMC) has limited consultative authority aimed at improving municipal services.[41] The CMC makes recommendations to the Ministry for Municipal Affairs and Agriculture. Disagreement between the CMC and the Ministry can be brought to the Council of Ministers for resolution.[45] Municipal elections are scheduled for every four years.[45] Before 1999, members of the CMC were appointed by the government. The most recent elections for the council were in May 2011.[41]

Law[edit]

Sharia law is the main source of Qatari legislation according to Qatar's Constitution.[15][16] Sharia law is applied to laws pertaining to family law, inheritance, and certain criminal acts (including adultery and murder).[48] In some cases in Sharia-based family courts, a female's testimony is worth half a man's and in some cases a female witness is not accepted at all.[49] Codified family law was introduced in 2006. In practice, Qatar's legal system is a mixture of civil law and Islamic law.[50][51]

Flogging is used in Qatar as a punishment for alcohol consumption or illicit sexual relations.[52] In 2012, more than six expatriates were sentenced to floggings of either 40 or 100 lashes.[52] More recently in April 2013, a Muslim expatriate was sentenced to 40 lashes for alcohol consumption.[53][54][55] In June 2014, a Muslim expatriate was sentenced to 40 lashes for consuming alcohol and driving under the influence.[56] Judicial corporal punishment is common in Qatar due to the Hanbali interpretation of Sharia Law.

Alcohol consumption is partially legal in Qatar, some five-star luxury hotels are allowed to sell alcohol to their non-Muslim customers.[57][58] Muslims are not allowed to consume alcohol in Qatar and Muslims caught consuming alcohol are liable to flogging or deportation. Non-Muslim expatriates can obtain a permit to purchase alcohol for personal consumption. The Qatar Distribution Company (a subsidiary of Qatar Airways) is permitted to import alcohol and pork; it operates the one and only liquor store in the country, which also sells pork to holders of liquor licences.[59] Qatari officials have also indicated a willingness to allow alcohol in "fan zones" at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.[60]

Until recently, restaurants on the Pearl-Qatar (a man-made island near Doha) were allowed to serve alcoholic drinks.[57][58] In December 2011, however, restaurants on the Pearl were told to stop selling alcohol.[57][61] No explanation was given for the ban.[57][58] Speculation about the reason includes the government's desire to project a more pious image in advance of the country's first election of a royal advisory body and rumours of a financial dispute between the government and the resort's developers.[61]

In 2014, Qatar launched a campaign to remind tourists how to dress appropriately.[62] Female tourists are advised not to wear leggings, miniskirts, sleeveless dresses and short or tight clothing in public. Men are advised against wearing only shorts and singlets.[63]

As of 2014, certain provisions of the Qatari Criminal Code allowed punishments such as flogging and stoning to be imposed as criminal sanctions. The UN Committee Against Torture found that these practices constituted a breach of the obligations imposed by the UN Convention Against Torture.[64][65] Qatar retains the death penalty, mainly for threats against national security.

Under the provisions of Qatar's sponsorship law, sponsors have the unilateral power to cancel workers' residency permits, deny workers' ability to change employers, report a worker as "absconded" to police authorities, and deny permission to leave the country.[66] As a result, sponsors may restrict workers’ movements and workers may be afraid to report abuses or claim their rights.[66] According to the ITUC, the visa sponsorship system allows the exaction of forced labour by making it difficult for a migrant worker to leave an abusive employer or travel overseas without permission.[67] Qatar also does not maintain wage standards for its immigrant labour. Qatar commissioned international law firm DLA Piper to produce a report investigating the immigrant labour system. In May 2014 DLA Piper released over 60 recommendations for reforming the kafala system including the abolition of exit visas and the introduction of a minimum wage which Qatar has pledged to implement.[68]

Cases of ill-treatment of immigrant labour have been observed. The Nepalese ambassador to Qatar, Maya Kumari Sharma, described the emirate as an "open jail".[69] Qatar does not have national occupational health standards or guidelines, and workplace injuries are the third highest cause of accidental deaths.[70] In May 2012, Qatari officials declared their intention to allow the establishment of an independent trade union.[71] Qatar also announced it will scrap its sponsor system for foreign labour, which requires that all foreign workers be sponsored by local employers, who in some cases hold workers' passports and can deny them permission to change jobs.[71]

Foreign relations[edit]

Former Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and US Secretary of State John Kerry in 2013.
Qatar's flag in Libya after the Libyan civil war, Qatar played an influential role during the Arab Spring.

Qatar was also an early member of OPEC and a founding member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It is a member of the Arab League. The country has not accepted compulsory International Court of Justice jurisdiction.[41]

Qatar hosts the Al Udeid Air Base, which acts as the hub for all American air operations in the Persian Gulf.[72] Qatar has bilateral relationships with a variety of foreign powers. It has allowed American forces to use an air base to send supplies to Iraq and Afghanistan.[73]

Qatar signed a defence co-operation agreement with Saudi Arabia,[74] with whom it shares the largest single non-associated gas field in the world. It was the second nation, the first being France, to have publicly announced its recognition of the Libyan opposition's National Transitional Council as the legitimate government of Libya amidst the 2011 Libyan civil war.[75] Qatar's relations with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are strained, owing to the perceived closeness between the Qatari government and the Muslim Brotherhood.[33]

The history of Qatar's alliances provides insight into the basis of their policy. Between 1760 and 1971, Qatar sought formal protection from the high transitory powers of the Ottomans, British, the Al-Khalifa's from Bahrain, the Persians, and the Wahhabis from Saudi Arabia.[76][page needed] According to leaked documents published in The New York Times, Qatar's record of counter-terrorism efforts was the "worst in the region" although Qatar had been a generous host to the American military.[77] The cable suggested that Qatar's security service was "hesitant to act against known terrorists out of concern for appearing to be aligned with the U.S. and provoking reprisals".[77]

Qatar has hosted academic, religious, political, and economic conferences. The 11th annual Doha Forum recently brought in key thinkers, professionals of various backgrounds, and political figures from all over the world to discuss democracy, media and information technology, free trade, and water security issues. This year was the first year the forum featured the Middle East Economic Future conference.[78] In more recent times, Qatar has been active in initiating peaceful talks between rival factions across the globe. Notable among these include the Darfur Agreement. The Doha Declaration is the basis of the peace process in Darfur and it has achieved significant gains on the ground for the African region. Notable achievements included the restoration of security and stability, progress made in construction and reconstruction processes, return of displaced residents and uniting of Darfur people to face challenges and push forward the peace process.[79] Qatar was one of the main backers of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. Qatar lent or gave Egypt $7.5 billion during the year he was in power.[80]

Since 2011, Qatar has actively supported Syrian opposition groups by providing them with weapons.[81] There is evidence that these groups supported by Qatar include the hard-line Islamic militant groups active in northern Syria.[81] Qatar has also pledged $60 million in humanitarian aid to Syrian civilians and refugees.[82]

Qatar’s alignment with Hamas has drawn criticism from Israel, the United States, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, "who accuse Qatar of undermining regional stability by supporting Hamas."[83]

Military[edit]

Main article: Qatar Armed Forces
Qatar's Dassault Mirage 2000 flying over Libya.

The Qatar Armed Forces are the military forces of Qatar. The country maintains a modest military force of approximately 11,800 men, including an army (8,500), navy (1,800) and air force (1,500). Qatar's defence expenditures accounted for approximately 4.2% of gross national product in 1993. Qatar has recently signed defence pacts with the United States and United Kingdom, as well as with France earlier in 1994. Qatar plays an active role in the collective defence efforts of the Gulf Cooperation Council; the other five members are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the UAE, and Oman. The presence of a large Qatari Air Base, operated by the United States and several other UN nations, provides a guaranteed source of defence and national security. In 2008 Qatar spent US$2.355 billion on military expenditures, 2.3% of the gross domestic product.[84] Qatari special forces have been trained by French and other Western countries, and are believed to possess considerable skills.[42] They also helped the Libyan rebels during the 2011 Battle of Tripoli.[42]

Administrative divisions[edit]

Municipalities of Qatar since 2004

Since 2004, Qatar has been divided into seven municipalities (Arabic: baladiyah).[85]

  1. Madinat ash Shamal
  2. Al Khor
  3. Umm Salal
  4. Al Daayen
  5. Al Rayyan
  6. Doha
  7. Al Wakrah

For statistical purposes, the municipalities are further subdivided into 98 zones (as of 2010),[86] which are in turn subdivided into blocks.[87]

Geography[edit]

Main article: Geography of Qatar
Map of Qatar.

The Qatari peninsula is just 100 miles (161 km) north into the Persian Gulf from Saudi Arabia. It lies between latitudes 24° and 27° N, and longitudes 50° and 52° E.

Much of the country consists of a low, barren plain, covered with sand. To the southeast lies the Khor al Adaid ("Inland Sea"), an area of rolling sand dunes surrounding an inlet of the Persian Gulf. There are mild winters and very hot, humid summers.

The highest point in Qatar is Qurayn Abu al Bawl at 103 metres (338 ft)[41] in the Jebel Dukhan to the west, a range of low limestone outcroppings running north-south from Zikrit through Umm Bab to the southern border. The Jebel Dukhan area also contains Qatar's main onshore oil deposits, while the natural gas fields lie offshore, to the northwest of the peninsula.

Biodiversity and environment[edit]

Qatar signed the Rio Convention on Biological Diversity on 11 June 1992, and became a party to the convention on 21 August 1996.[88] It has subsequently produced a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, which was received by the convention on 18 May 2005.[89] A total of 142 fungal species have been recorded from Qatar.[90] A book recently produced by the Ministry of Environment documents the lizards known or believed to occur in Qatar, based on surveys conducted by an international team of scientists and other collaborators.[91]

For two decades, Qatar has had the highest per-capita carbon dioxide emissions in the world, at 49.1 metric tons per person in 2008.[92] Qataris are also some of the highest consumers of water per capita per day, using around 400 litres.[93]

In 2008 Qatar launched its National Vision 2030 which highlights environmental development as one of the four main goals for Qatar over the next two decades. The National Vision pledges to develop sustainable alternatives to oil-based energy to preserve the local and global environment.[94]

Climate[edit]

Climate data for Qatar
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 22
(72)
23
(73)
23
(73)
32
(90)
38
(100)
39
(102)
41
(106)
45
(113)
40
(104)
35
(95)
29
(84)
24
(75)
32.6
(90.6)
Average low °C (°F) 09
(48)
13
(55)
17
(63)
21
(70)
25
(77)
27
(81)
29
(84)
29
(84)
26
(79)
23
(73)
19
(66)
15
(59)
21.1
(69.9)
Precipitation mm (inches) 12.7
(0.5)
17.8
(0.701)
15.2
(0.598)
7.6
(0.299)
2.5
(0.098)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
2.5
(0.098)
12.7
(0.5)
71
(2.794)
Source: weather.com[95]

Economy[edit]

Main article: Economy of Qatar
Graphical depiction of Qatar's product exports in 28 color-coded categories.
Qatar Airways Boeing 787-8, Qatar Airways links over 100 international destinations from its base in Doha.

Before the discovery of oil, the economy of the Qatari region focused on fishing and pearl hunting. Report prepared by local governors of Ottoman Empire in 1892 states that total income from pearl hunting in year of 1892 is 2,450,000 kran.[27] After the introduction of the Japanese cultured pearl onto the world market in the 1920s and 1930s, Qatar's pearling industry crashed. Oil was discovered in Qatar in 1940, in Dukhan Field.[96] The discovery transformed the state's economy. Now, the country has a high standard of living. With no income tax, Qatar (along with Bahrain) is one of the countries with the lowest tax rates in the world. The unemployment rate in June 2013 was 0.1%.[97]

Qatar has the 9th highest GDP per capita in the world as of 2013, according to the CIA World Factbook[98] and approximately 14% of households are dollar millionaires.[99] It relies heavily on foreign labour to grow its economy, to the extent that migrant workers comprise 94% of the workforce.[100] Qatar has been ranked as one of the worst places in the world for workers by the International Trade Union Confederation.[101] The economic growth of Qatar has been almost exclusively based on its petroleum and natural gas industries, which began in 1940.[102] Qatar is the leading exporter of liquefied natural gas.[42] In 2012, it was estimated that Qatar would invest over $120 billion in the energy sector in the next ten years.[103] The country is a member state of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), having joined the organisation in 1961.[104]

In 2012, Qatar retained its title of richest country in the world (according to per capita income) for the third time in a row, having first overtaken Luxembourg in 2010. According to the study published by the Washington based Institute of International Finance, Qatar's per capita GDP at purchasing power parity (PPP) was $106,000 (QR387,000) in 2012, helping the country retain its ranking as the world's wealthiest nation. Luxembourg came a distant second with nearly $80,000 and Singapore third with per capita income of about $61,000. The research put Qatar's GDP at $182bn in 2012 and said it had climbed to an all-time high due to soaring gas exports and high oil prices. Its population stood at 1.8 million in 2012. The same study published that Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), with assets of $115bn, was ranked 12th among the richest sovereign wealth funds in the world.[105]

Energy[edit]

As of 2012, Qatar has proven oil reserves of 15 billion barrels and gas fields that account for more than 5% of the global resource. As a result, it is the richest state per-capita in the world. None of its 2 million residents live below the poverty line and less than 1% are unemployed.[106]

Qatar's economy was in a downturn from 1982 to 1989. OPEC quotas on crude oil production, the lower price for oil, and the generally unpromising outlook on international markets reduced oil earnings. In turn, the Qatari government's spending plans had to be cut to match lower income. The resulting recessionary local business climate caused many firms to lay off expatriate staff. With the economy recovering in the 1990s, expatriate populations, particularly from Egypt and South Asia, have grown again.

Oil production will not long remain at peak levels of 500,000 barrels (80,000 m³) per day, as oil fields are projected to be mostly depleted by 2023. However, large natural gas reserves have been located off Qatar's northeast coast. Qatar's proved reserves of gas are the third-largest in the world, exceeding 250 trillion cubic feet (7000 km³). The economy was boosted in 1991 by completion of the $1.5-billion Phase I of North Field gas development. In 1996, the Qatargas project began exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Japan. Further phases of North Field gas development costing billions of dollars are in various stages of planning and development.

Qatar's heavy industrial projects, all based in Umm Said, include a refinery with a 50,000 barrels (8,000 m³) per day capacity, a fertiliser plant for urea and ammonia, a steel plant, and a petrochemical plant. All these industries use gas for fuel. Most are joint ventures between European and Japanese firms and the state-owned Qatar General Petroleum Corporation (QGPC). The US is the major equipment supplier for Qatar's oil and gas industry, and US companies are playing a major role in North Field gas development.[106]

Qatar's National Vision 2030 has made investment in renewable resources a major goal for the country over the next two decades.[94]

Qatar pursues a vigorous program of "Qatarization", under which all joint venture industries and government departments strive to move Qatari nationals into positions of greater authority. Growing numbers of foreign-educated Qataris, including many educated in the US, are returning home to assume key positions formerly occupied by expatriates. To control the influx of expatriate workers, Qatar has tightened the administration of its foreign manpower programs over the past several years. Security is the principal basis for Qatar's strict entry and immigration rules and regulations.[106]

International holdings[edit]

Established in 2005, Qatar Investment Authority is the country's sovereign wealth fund, specialising in foreign investment.[107] Due to billions of dollars in surpluses from the oil and gas industry, the Qatari government has directed investments into United States, Europe, and Asia Pacific. As of 2013, the holdings were valued at $100 billion in assets. Qatar Holding is the international investment arm of QIA. Since 2009, Qatar Holding has received $30bn-$40bn a year from the state. As of 2014, it has investments around the world in Valentino, Siemens, Printemps, Harrods, The Shard, Barclays Bank, Heathrow Airport, Paris Saint-Germain F.C., Volkswagen, Royal Dutch Shell, Bank of America, Tiffany, Agricultural Bank of China, Sainsbury's, BlackBerry,[108] and Santander Brasil.[109][110]

Demographics[edit]

Main article: Demographics of Qatar

In 2013, Qatar's total population was 1.8 million; 278,000 Qatari citizens and 1.5 million expatriates.[8] Qatari nationals are merely 13% of the population. Non-Arab expatriates make up the majority of Qatar's population. Indians are the largest expatriate community, there were 545,000 Indians in 2013.[8] In addition, there were 341,000 Nepalis, 185,000 Filipinos, 137,000 Bangladeshis, 100,000 Sri Lankans and 90,000 Pakistanis.[8]

First records about the demographics of Qatar dated back to 1892 which was prepared by Ottoman governors in the region. Based on this census, which only includes the residents in cities, total population of Qatar in 1892 was 9,830.[27]

Populations
Year Pop. ±%
1904 27,000 —    
1970 111,133 +311.6%
1986 369,079 +232.1%
1997 522,023 +41.4%
2004 744,029 +42.5%
2010 1,699,435 +128.4%
2013 1,903,447 +12.0%
Source: Qatar Statistics Authority (1904–2004);[111] 2010 Census;[2] 2013 est.[112]

The 2010 census recorded the total population at 1,699,435.[2] In January 2013, the Qatar Statistics Authority estimated the country's population at 1,903,447, of which 1,405,164 were males and 498,283 females.[112] At the time of the first census, held in 1970, the population was 111,133.[111] The population has tripled in the decade to 2011, up from just over 600,000 people in 2001, leaving Qatari nationals as less than 15% of the total population.[113] The influx of male labourers has skewed the gender balance, and women are now just one-quarter of the population.[113]

Projections released by Qatar Statistical Authority indicates that the total population of Qatar could reach 2.8 million by 2020. Qatar's National Development Strategy (2011–16) had estimated that the country's population would reach 1.78m in 2013, 1.81m in 2014, 1.84m in 2015 and 1.86m in 2016 – the yearly growth rate being merely 2.1 percent. But the country's population have soared to 1.83 million by the end of 2012, showing 7.5 percent growth over the previous year.[114]

Skyline of Doha at night

Religion[edit]

Main article: Religion in Qatar
Mosque in Qatar

Islam is the predominant religion. Qatar's official state religion is Wahhabi Islam.[115] Most Qatari citizens belong to the strict Wahhabi sect of Islam.[12][13][14] Most Qatari citizens are Sunni Muslims, only between 5–15% of Qatari citizens are Shia Muslims.[116] According to the 2004 census, 71.5% of the population are Sunni Muslim and about 10% Shi'a Muslim, 8.5% are Christian and 10% are "Other".[41][117][118]

In 2010, the religious affiliation in the country was estimated by the Pew Forum as 67.7% Muslim, 13.8% Christian, 13.8% Hindu and 3.1% Buddhist. Other religions and religiously unaffiliated people accounted for the remaining 1.6%.[119]

In March 2008, a Roman Catholic church, Our Lady of the Rosary, was consecrated in Doha. No missionaries are allowed in the community. The church displays no Christian symbols such as crosses, bells, or a steeple on its exterior.[120]

The Christian population is composed almost entirely of foreigners. Active churches are Mar Thoma Church, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church from Southern India, Arab Evangelicals from Syria and Palestine, and Anglicans,[121] about 50,000 Catholics and Copts from Egypt.[122] No foreign missionary groups operate openly in the country,[123] but the government allows churches to conduct Mass. Since 2008 Christians have been allowed to build churches on ground donated by the government.[124]

Languages[edit]

Arabic is the official language of Qatar, with Qatari Arabic the local dialect. Qatari Sign Language is the language of the deaf community. English is also widely spoken,[125] and is considered to be a rising lingua franca, especially in commerce, to the extent that steps are being taken to try to preserve Arabic from English's encroachment.[126] English is particularly useful for communication with Qatar's large expatriate community. In 2012, Qatar joined the international French-speaking organisation of La Francophonie as a new associate member.[127] Reflecting the multicultural make-up of the country, many other languages are also spoken, including Hindi, Malayalam, Urdu, Tamil, Nepali and Tagalog.[128]

Culture[edit]

Qatar's culture is similar to that of other countries in Eastern Arabia. The Qatar National Day hosted every 18 December is the day Qataris celebrate their national identity and history. On that day, expressions of affection and gratitude are conveyed to the people of Qatar who cooperated in solidarity and vowed allegiance and obedience to Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani as a leader in 1878.[129][130]

Most Qataris belong to the strict Wahhabi sect of Islam.[12][13][14] Societal obstacles prevent Qatari women from driving a car.[131]

Arts and museums[edit]

Several senior members of Qatar's ruling Al Thani family are noted collectors of Islamic and contemporary art (see Collecting practices of the Al-Thani Family).

The Museum of Islamic Art, opened in 2008, has quickly come to be regarded as one of the great museums of the world.[132] This, and several other Qatari museums, like the Arab Museum of Modern Art, falls under the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) which is led by Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the daughter of the ruling Emir of the State of Qatar, and the prominent collector and art patron Sheikh Hassan bin Mohammed Al Thani.[133] The QMA also sponsors artistic events abroad, such as major exhibitions by Takahashi Murakami in Versailles (2010) and Damien Hirst in London (2012).

Qatar is the world's biggest buyer in the art market by value.[134] The Qatari cultural sector is being developed to enable the country to reach world recognition to contribute to the development of a country that comes mainly from its resources from the gas industry.[135]

Media[edit]

The news desk of Al Jazeera English, a Qatari news channel

Qatar's media was classified as "not free" in the 2012 Freedom of the Press report by Freedom House.[136] TV broadcasting in Qatar was started in 1970.[137] Al Jazeera is a main television network headquartered in Doha, Qatar. Al Jazeera initially launched in 1996 as an Arabic news and current affairs satellite TV channel of the same name, but has since expanded into a leading global network of several speciality TV channels known collectively as the Al Jazeera Media Network. Criticism of the Emir in the media is illegal: according to article 46 of the press law “The emir of the state of Qatar shall not be criticized and no statement can be attributed to him unless under a written permission from the manager of his office.”[138]

Print media is going through expansion, with over three English dailies and Arabic titles. The number of locally published magazines has also increased with several monthly, bi-monthly and quarterly magazines being published in both Arabic and English.

In more recent times, with the advent of Social Media, online news portals such as Peninsula Online, Gulf Times Online and Qatar Chronicle have gained popularity among the public in Qatar. The latter of which has been particularly noted for their bold articles that are often not in line with the publicly accepted propaganda.[139]

In regards to telecommunication infrastructure, Qatar is the highest ranked Middle Eastern country in the World Economic Forum's Network Readiness Index (NRI) – an indicator for determining the development level of a country’s information and communication technologies. Qatar ranked number 23 overall in the 2014 NRI ranking, unchanged from 2013.[140]

Music[edit]

Main article: Music of Qatar

The music of Qatar is based on Bedouin poetry, song and dance. Most of Qatari music uses an array of percussion instruments, including al-ras (a large drum whose leather is heated by an open fire).

Sport[edit]

Main article: Sport in Qatar

Soccer is the most popular sport in Qatar. The Qatar under-20 national soccer team finished second in the 1981 FIFA World Youth Championship after a 4–0 defeat to West Germany in the final.

The Asian Football Confederation's 2011 AFC Asian Cup finals was held in Qatar in January 2011. It was the fifteenth time the tournament has been held, and the second time it has been hosted by Qatar, the other being the 1988 AFC Asian Cup.

On 2 December 2010, Qatar won their bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, despite never having qualified for the FIFA World Cup Finals before.[141] Qatari organizers are planning to build 9 new stadiums and expand 3 existing stadiums for this event. Qatar's winning bid for the 2022 World Cup was greeted enthusiastically in the Persian Gulf region as it would be the first time that the Middle East will host the FIFA World Cup. However, the bid has been embroiled in much controversy since then and European football associations have objected to the 2022 World Cup being held in Qatar for a variety of reasons, from the impact of warm temperatures on player's fitness to the confusion it might cause in European domestic league calendars, should the event be moved to the winter.[142][143] In May 2014 Qatar football official Mohamed Bin Hammam was alleged to have made payments totalling £3m to officials, in return for their support for the Qatar bid.[144] Similarly, The Guardian, a British national daily newspaper, made a documentary on "Abuse and exploitation of migrant workers preparing emirate for 2022".[69] A 2014 investigation by The Guardian reports that migrant workers who have been constructing luxurious offices for the organizers of the 2022 World Cup have not been paid in over a year, and are now "working illegally from cockroach-infested lodgings."[145]

The Qatar 2022 organising committee have responded to various allegations by claiming that hosting the World Cup in Qatar would act as a "catalyst for change" in the region.[146]

Even though soccer is the country's most popular sport, other team sports yield better international results at senior level. An example is the country's basketball team, which won more medals at the Asian Basketball Championship than any other Arab country.

Doha is also home to Qatar Racing Club, a drag racing facility where the Arabian Drag Racing League competes. His Excellency Sheik Khalid bin Hamad Al Thani is very involved in the sport and is the owner of Al-Anabi Racing. In 2009, he brought his racing company to the United States as a team competing in National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) competition with the help of 11 time NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series World Champion Alan Johnson who serves as the Team Manager. The Al-Anabi Racing Team has won three NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel World Championships in the last four years. Larry Dixon won the title in 2010, Del Worsham won it in 2011, and Shawn Langdon won the World Championship in 2013. Langdon remains with the team as the driver of the silver Al-Anabi team and is teammates with Khalid alBalooshi who drives the gold Al-Anabi Top Fuel dragster. AlBalooshi, a native of Dubai, UAE, is the first driver of Middle Eastern descent to compete in a major United States motorsports series. He is a three-time winner in the Top Fuel category. The Al-Anabi Racing Team's races are televised internationally on ESPN. The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series comprises 24 national events in 21 markets throughout the United States.

Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha hosted the WTA Tour Championships in women's tennis between 2008 and 2010. Doha holds the WTA Premier tournament Qatar Ladies Open annually.

Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar won the 2011 Dakar Rally and the Production World Rally Championship in 2006. In addition, he has also won gold medals at the 2002 Asian Games and 2010 Asian Games as part of the Qatari skeet shooting team, as well as a bronze medal in the individual skeet event at the 2010 Games in Guangzhou. In the 2012 Summer Games, he won the bronze medal in clay pigeon shooting.[147]

Since 2002, Qatar has hosted the annual Tour of Qatar, a cycling race in six stages. Every February, riders are racing on the roads across Qatar's flat land for six days. Each stage covers a distance of more than 100 km, though the time trial usually is a shorter distance. Tour of Qatar is organised by the Qatar Cycling Federation for professional riders in the category of Elite Men.[148]

In March 2013, Qatar hosted the first round of the FIM Motocross World Championship, becoming the first Motocross Grand Prix to be held in the Middle East.

In November 2015, Qatar will host the World Robot Olympiad.

Education[edit]

Main article: Education in Qatar
Qatar University, east view

Qatar has hired RAND to reform its K–12 education system.[42] Through the Qatar Foundation, the country has built an "Education City", hosting local branches of the Weill Cornell Medical College, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, Texas A&M's School of Engineering, and other Western institutions.[42]

The illiteracy rate in Qatar was 3.1% for males and 4.2% for females in 2012, the lowest in the Arab-speaking world, but 86th in the world.[149] Citizens are required to attend government-provided education from kindergarten through high school.[150] Qatar University was founded in 1973.

In 2008, Qatar established the Qatar Science & Technology Park at Education City to link those universities with industry. Education City is also home to a fully accredited International Baccalaureate school, Qatar Academy. Two Canadian institutions, the College of the North Atlantic and the University of Calgary, also operate campuses in Doha. Other for-profit universities have also established campuses in the city.[151]

In November 2002, the Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani created the Supreme Education Council.[152] 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"[153] reform initiative.

According to the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities, the top-ranking universities in the country are Qatar University (1881st worldwide), Texas A&M University at Qatar (3905th) and Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (6855th).[154]

In 2012, Qatar was ranked near the bottom of the OECD countries participating in the PISA test of math, reading and skills for 15 to 16-year olds, comparable to Colombia or Albania, despite having the highest per capita income in the world.[155]

Innovative Education[edit]

AL-Bairaq Students during activities

In 2010, AL-Bairaq Educational program was launched in Qatar. AL-Bairaq is an outreach program targeting high school students. The idea behind AL-Bairaq is to offer the high school students the opportunity to connect with the research environment in the Center for Advanced Materials (CAM) at Qatar University. AL-Bairaq learning system adopts curriculum integration. Where it is modules cover a blend of academic disciplines including, in addition to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM fields), In addition to language and beauty of science. What is special in AL-Bairaq project is that it links between learning and fun, which motivate youth to join it. It doesn't depend on the ready prepared lessons but make the students to be partners in the learning process.[156]

Healthcare[edit]

In 2010, spending on healthcare accounted for 1.40% of the country's GDP. In 2006, there were 23.12 physicians and 61.81 nurses per 10,000 inhabitants.[157] The life expectancy at birth was 78.25 years in 2010, or 78.54 years for males and 77.95 years for females.[158] Qatar has made developing a world class public health system one of its key goals through its National Vision 2030.[94]

Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), affiliated with Cornell University, is the premier non-profit health care provider in Doha, Qatar. Established by the Emiri decree in 1979, HMC manages five highly specialised hospitals and a health care centre: Hamad General Hospital, Rumailah Hospital, Women’s Hospital, Psychiatric Hospital and the Primary Health Care Centres and Al Khor Hospital. These hospitals are quite sophisticated by the standards of the region, with most hosting advanced fMRI and other scanning machines.

Other private hospitals consist of Sidra Hospital, Al-Ahli Hospital, Doha Clinic, Al-Emadi Hospital, Aster Medical Centre, Alkharashy Dental Centers, Naseem Al Rabeeh, The American Hospital, Apollo Clinic, Future Medical Center, Future Dental Center, Life Line Medical Centre, Al Salam Poly Clinic and Tadawi Medical. Find more information about Doctors and Clinics in Qatar at Meddy

Qatar has among the highest rates in the world for obesity, diabetes and genetic disorders.[159]

See also[edit]

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