Qatar -- Geography --
The Qatari peninsula juts 100 miles (161 km) north into the Arabian 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 (340 ft) 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.In July 2007, the country had a growing population of approximately 907,229 people, of whom approximately 350,000 were believed to be citizens. 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 Bah?'?s. Most foreign workers and their families live near the major employment centers of Doha, Al Khor, Messaeed, and Dukhan
Qatar -- History --
During the pre-Islamic era, the peninsula was often dominated by various foreign powers, such as Persian dynasties, the last of which included the Qatar peninsula, which they called Meshmahig (Big Island), in the large region of 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 Arabian 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 Arabian 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.
The Emiri Diwan.
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 Arabian Gulf increased during the 1950s, and the British welcomed Kuwait's declaration of independence in 1961. When Britain officially announced in 1968 that it would disengage politically (though not economically) from the Arabian 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 in 2003.
In March 2005, 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.
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.
Qatar -- Economy --
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 km?), 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 (2006) and the highest GDP per capita in the world according to the CIA (2007), though it was previously the United Arab Emirates that was the wealthiest Arab country according to the University of Pennsylvania (2003). With no income tax, Qatar is also one of the two least-taxed sovereign states in the world (the other is Bahrain).
Aspire Tower, located in the Doha Sports City.
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 2004, it established the Qatar Science & Technology Park to attract and serve technology-based companies and entrepreneurs, from overseas and within Qatar. Qatar also established Education City, which consists of international colleges. For the 15th Asian Games in Doha, it established 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 2016 Summer Olympics in October 2007. 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.
Qatar -- Culture --
Qatar culture is a matter of immense pride and glory for the people of Qatar. The Qatari people are culturally very active and love to exhibit their rich cultural heritage. Since the country is Arabic in origin, there are many Arabic elements in the culture of Qatar. From the very beginning of the establishment of the country, Qatar has developed a deep traditional and cultural value. There are certain customs and traditions in Qatar, which are typical to the country and without, which the cultural heritage of Qatar seems incomplete.
Qatar culture has combined several cultural heritages in itself. There are many people who have migrated from various parts of the world and brought in their own customs and traditions to Qatar. These have been well-amalgamated with the original Arabic culture of the Qatari people. Predominantly, the country follows Islam. Almost 90% of the people belong to Islam, but they are tolerant towards other religions too. As a result, there are people who follow both Hinduism and Christianity in Qatar.
The cultural heritage of Qatar is evident in several cultural events that are put up by several organizations. The cultural events depict the various cultural aspects of the country like the customs and traditions that are typical of the country. There are traces of Bedouin culture that are found in the Qatar culture. The National Council for Culture, Arts and Heritage in Qatar is provided with the responsibility of preserving the rich cultural heritage of Qatar.
Qatar -- Political system, law and government --
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 Arabian Gulf where women gained the right to vote 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.