|THE QATAR COAT OF ARMS|
Location of Qatar within the continent of [[Asia]
Map of Qatar
Qatar Flag Description: maroon with a broad white serrated band (nine white points) on the hoist side; maroon represents the blood shed in Qatari wars, white stands for peace; the nine-pointed serrated edge signifies Qatar as the ninth member of the "reconciled emirates" in the wake of the Qatari-British treaty of 1916
note: the other eight emirates are the seven that compose the UAE and Bahrain; according to some sources, the dominant color was formerly red, but this darkened to maroon upon exposure to the sun and the new shade was eventually adopted.
Official name Dawlat Qaṭar (State of Qatar)
Form of government constitutional emirate with one advisory body (Advisory Council )
Head of state and government Emir: Sheikh Tamim ibn Hamad Al Thani, assisted by Prime Minister: Sheikh Abdullah ibn Nasser ibn Khalifah Al Thani
Official language Arabic
Official religion Islam
Monetary unit Qatari riyal (QR)
Population (2013 est.) 1,991,000COLLAPSE
Total area (sq mi) 4,481
Total area (sq km) 11,607
- Urban: (2011) 98.8%
- Rural: (2011) 1.2%
Life expectancy at birth
- Male: (2011) 78.5 years
- Female: (2011) 77.9 years
Literacy: percentage of population age 15 and over literate
- Male: (2009) 95.1%
- Female: (2009) 92.9%
GNI per capita (U.S. $) (2013) 85,550
1All seats are appointed by the emir.
natives of the Arabian Peninsula, most Qataris are descended from a number of migratory tribes that came to Qatar in the 18th century to escape the harsh conditions of the neighboring areas of Nejd and Al-Hasa.
Qatar, independent emirate on the west coast of the Persian Gulf.
Occupying a small desert peninsula that extends northward from the larger Arabian Peninsula, it has been continuously but sparsely inhabited since prehistoric times. Following the rise of Islam, the region became subject to the Islamic caliphate; it later was ruled by a number of local and foreign dynasties before falling under the control of the Āl Thānī (Thānī dynasty) in the 19th century. The Āl Thānī sought British patronage against competing tribal groups and against the Ottoman Empire—which occupied the country in the late 19th and early 20th centuries—and in exchange the United Kingdom controlled Qatar’s foreign policy until the latter’s independence in 1971. Thereafter, the monarchy continued to nurture close ties with Western powers as a central pillar of its national security. Qatar has one of the world’s largest reserves of petroleum and natural gas and employs large numbers of foreign workers in its production process. Because of its oil wealth, the country’s residents enjoy a high standard of living and a well-established system of social services.
he capital is the eastern coastal city of Doha (Al-Dawḥah), which was once a centre for pearling and is home to most of the country’s inhabitants. Radiating inland from its handsome Corniche, or seaside boulevard, Doha blends premodern architecture with new office buildings, shopping malls, and apartment complexes. Qatar’s traditions draw on a nomadic past and practices that are centuries old, from hand-woven products to falconry. However, the country’s population is urban and coastal, its daily life is thoroughly modern, and its rulers have sought to enhance civil liberties. The press is among the freest in the region, and though they are religious and traditional, Qataris pride themselves on their tolerance for the cultures and beliefs of others. On the status of the country’s large expatriate community, the ruling emir has noted that “in Qatar, they find security and a dignified livelihood.”
Geography of Qatar
Slightly smaller in area than the U.S. state of Connecticut, the Qatar peninsula is about 100 miles (160 km) from north to south, 50 miles (80 km) from east to west, and is generally rectangular in shape. It shares a border with eastern Saudi Arabia where the peninsula connects to the mainland and is north and west of the United Arab Emirates. The island country of Bahrain lies some 25 miles (40 km) northwest of Qatar. A territorial dispute with Bahrain was resolved in 2001, when the International Court of Justice awarded the Ḥawār Islands (just off the coast of Qatar) to Bahrain and gave Qatar sovereignty over Janān Island and the ruined fortress-town of Al-Zubārah (on the Qatari mainland). That year Qatar also signed a final border demarcation agreement with Saudi Arabia.
- Relief and drainage
Most of Qatar’s area is flat, low-lying desert, which rises from the east to a central limestone plateau. Hills rise to about 130 feet (40 metres) along the western and northern coasts, and Abū al-Bawl Hill (335 feet [103 metres]) is the country’s highest point. Sand dunes and salt flats, or sabkhahs, are the chief topographical features of the southern and southeastern sectors. Qatar has more than 350 miles (560 km) of coastline; its border with Saudi Arabia is some 37 miles (60 km) long. There are no permanent bodies of fresh water.
Soils in Qatar are marked by a small degree of organic material and are generally calcareous and agriculturally unproductive. Windblown sand dunes are common, and soil distribution over bedrock is light and uneven. Soil salinity is high in coastal regions and in agricultural regions where poor regulation of irrigation has led to increased salinity.
The climate is hot and humid from June to September, with daytime temperatures as high as 122 °F (50 °C). The spring and fall months—April, May, October, and November—are temperate, averaging about 63 °F (17 °C), and the winters are slightly cooler. Precipitation is scarce, with less than 3 inches (75 mm) falling annually (generally in winter).
- Plant and animal life
Vegetation is found only in the north, where the country’s irrigated farming areas are located and where desert plants blossom briefly during the spring rains. Fauna is limited, and the government has implemented a program to protect the Arabian oryx, Qatar’s national animal.
Demography of Qatar
- Ethnic groups and languages
Qatar was originally settled by Bedouin nomads from the central part of the Arabian Peninsula. Qatari citizens, however, constitute only a small portion—roughly one-seventh—of the total population today. Economic growth beginning in the 1970s created an economy dependent on foreign workers—mostly from Pakistan, India, and Iran—who now far outnumber nationals. More than one-tenth of the population is Palestinian. Few nomads remain.
Arabic is the official language, and most Qataris speak a dialect of Gulf Arabic similar to that spoken in surrounding states. Modern Standard Arabic is taught in schools, and English is commonly used. Among the large expatriate population, Persian and Urdu are often spoken.
Islam is the official religion, and Qataris are largely Sunni Muslims. There is a small Shīʿite minority. The ruling Āl Thānī (Thānī family) adheres to the same Wahhābī interpretation of Islam as the rulers of Saudi Arabia, though not as strictly. Women, for example, have greater freedom in Qatar than in Saudi Arabia.
- Settlement patterns
Qataris are largely urban dwellers; less than one-tenth of the population lives in rural areas. Doha, on the east coast, is Qatar’s largest city and commercial centre and contains about half of the emirate’s population. It has a deepwater port and an international airport. The main oil port and industrial centre is Umm Saʿīd, to the south of Doha on the eastern coast. Al-Rayyān, just northwest of Doha, is the country’s second major urban area. These three cities and many smaller settlements are linked by roads. Of the many islands and coral reefs belonging to Qatar, Ḥālūl, in the Persian Gulf 60 miles (97 km) east of Doha, serves as a collecting and storage point for the country’s three offshore oil fields.
- Demographic trends
The population of Qatar has been steadily growing; despite a markedly low death rate, however, the country’s relatively low birth rate has led to a rate of natural increase that is slightly lower than the world average. Males outnumber females almost two to one—in large part because of the disproportionate number of expatriate males. The average life expectancy is about 71 years for males and 76 for females.
Economy of Qatar
Qatar’s economic prosperity is derived from the extraction and export of petroleum—discovered in 1939 and first produced in 1949—and natural gas. Before World War II, Qatar’s population engaged in pearling, fishing, and some trade (with little exception the only occupations available) and was one of the poorest in the world. By the 1970s, however, native Qataris enjoyed one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, despite subsequent declines in income due to fluctuations in world oil prices. Qatar’s original oil concession was granted to the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC), a consortium of European and American firms. This and later concessions were nationalized in the 1970s. While state-owned Qatar Petroleum (formerly Qatar General Petroleum Corporation) oversees oil and gas operations, private corporations continue to play an important role as service companies.
- Agriculture and fishing
The government has attempted to modernize the fishing and agriculture sectors by offering interest-free loans; yet food production continues to generate only a tiny fraction of gross domestic product (GDP). The scarcity of fertile land and water imposes severe limitations on agriculture, and a large proportion of the country’s food must be imported. Use of treated sewage effluent and desalinated water for irrigation, however, has helped to expand the production of fruits such as dates and melons and vegetables such as tomatoes, squash, and eggplant, which Qatar now exports to other Persian Gulf countries. Production of meat, cereal-grains, and milk also began to increase by the end of the 20th century.
Once the mainstays of Qatar’s economy, fishing and pearling have greatly declined in importance. Pearling is almost non-existent, in large part because of Japan’s dominant cultured-pearl industry. The government maintains a fishing fleet and since the late 1990s has placed greater emphasis on commercial fishing and shrimp harvesting.
- Resources and power
Qatar possesses enormous deposits of natural gas, and its offshore North Field is one of the largest gas fields in the world. The country’s petroleum reserves, found both onshore along the western coast at Dukhān and offshore from the eastern coast, are modest by regional standards.
In an attempt to reduce its dependency on oil, Qatar began to develop its natural gas resources in the mid-1990s. To develop its gas fields, Qatar had to borrow heavily, but high oil prices in the early 21st century put the country on more firm financial footing. Qatar’s strategy has been to develop its natural gas reserves aggressively through joint projects with major international oil and gas companies, focusing on the North Field. Natural gas surpassed oil as the largest share of the government’s revenues and the country’s GDP in the first decade of the 21st century.
Qatar has sought to diversify its economy through industrialization. Most of the manufacturing sector comprises large firms of mixed state and foreign private ownership. For example, the Qatar Petrochemical Company is largely owned by a government holding company, and a French firm has a minor stake. Flour milling and cement production have also been undertaken. Diversification by expanding manufacturing depends on an abundance of cheap energy for running plants, however, and is thus tied to Qatar’s hydrocarbon resources. Its natural gas reserves have been used to develop a strong liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry.
The Qatar Central Bank (Maṣraf Qaṭar al-Markazī), founded in 1993, provides banking functions for the state and issues the Qatari rial, the national currency. In addition to domestic banks, including commercial, development, and Islamic banks (institutions bound by strict religious rules governing transactions), licensed foreign banks are also authorized to operate. Qatar has been generous in its foreign aid disbursements, particularly to other Arab and Islamic countries. The Doha Stock Exchange began operations in 1997.
Machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, and food and live animals are Qatar’s major imports. LNG, crude petroleum, and refined petroleum account for the bulk of the value of exports. Japan, South Korea, and France are among Qatar’s most important trading partners—Japan alone receives by far the largest proportion of Qatar’s exports, largely in the form of petroleum and petroleum products.
The service sector, including public administration and defense, accounts for some one-fourth of GDP and employs more than half of the workforce. The country’s military expenditure as percentage of gross national product is high, at nearly four times the world average. In an attempt to further diversify Qatar’s economy, the government has sought to develop tourism, in particular by promoting the country as a site for international conferences; however, tourism remains a relatively small component of the economy.
- Labour and taxation
Foreigners account for the great bulk of Qatar’s workforce, a matter of continuing concern for Qatari officials. Qatar has banned the employment of Egyptians since 1996, when the government claimed that Egypt was involved in an unsuccessful coup. The government has actively pursued programs to encourage employing and promoting Qatari nationals in the workforce. However, a five-year plan introduced in 2000 to boost significantly the number of Qataris in the labour force fell far short of its goals. Labour unions and associations are forbidden. As in most countries of the region, the standard workweek is Saturday through Wednesday.
Qatar does not levy taxes on personal income nor does it have sales or value-added taxes. Foreign corporations (excluding those owned by Gulf Cooperation Council members) are taxed, but the amount accounts for less than one-tenth of the government’s revenue; the bulk of its revenue comes from the sale of petroleum and natural gas.
- Transportation and telecommunications
Qatar has more than 760 miles (1,230 km) of road, nearly all of which are paved. There are no railroads. The country has several important ports, including those at Doha and Umm Saʿīd. An international airport is located at Doha, and Qatar Airways is the country’s national carrier.
Qatar Public Telecommunications Corporation is the sole provider of telecommunication services in the country. It also sets policies and makes administrative decisions for the sector. In 1996 the Internet was made available to the public, with Qatar Public Telecommunications Corporation as the sole service provider. Internet use is highest among Qatari nationals. A submarine fibre-optic cable system completed in the late 1990s links Qatar with Bahrain, Oman, and Kuwait.
Government and politics of Qatar
The politics of Qatar take place in a framework of an absolute monarchy whereby the Emir of Qatar is not only head of state, but also the head of government. The head of state is the emir, and the right to rule Qatar is passed on within the Al Thani family. Politically, Qatar is evolving from a traditional society into a modern welfare state.
As a hereditary monarch, the emir also holds the positions of Minister of Defense and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani has been emir since June 1995. His fourth son, Crown Prince Tamin bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, is heir apparent. There is a prime minister. The emir appoints the Council of Ministers. There are no elections.
The legislature comprises a unicameral advisory council or Majlis al-Shura. The 35 members are appointed. No legislative elections have been held since 1970, when there were partial elections. Council members have had their terms extended every four years since. A new constitution, which came into force in June 2005, provides for a 45-member Consultative Council, or Majlis al-Shura. The public would elect two-thirds of the Majlis al-Shura, and the emir would appoint the remaining members. Elections were planned for late 2007. Suffrage is universal for those aged 18 years and over.
The judiciary comprises courts of first instance, appeal, and cassation (annulment). The emir appoints all judges based on the recommendation of the Supreme Judiciary Council—for renewable three-year terms. The legal system is a discretionary system of law controlled by the emir, although civil codes are being implemented. Islamic law dominates family and personal matters.
Qatar explicitly uses Wahhabi law, a puritanical version of Islam which takes a literal interpretation of the Qur'an as the basis of its government. In the early twentieth century, when the Al-Thanis realized that converting to the doctrine of their larger neighbor might bode well for the survival of their regime, they imported Wahhabi Islam from Saudi Arabia. Wahhabism takes a more tolerant form in Qatar than in Saudi Arabia, though it still governs a large portion of Qatari mores and rituals.
The Basic Law of Qatar, 1970, institutionalized customs rooted in Qatar's Wahhabi heritage, granting the emir pre-eminent power. The emir's role is influenced by continuing traditions of consultation, rule by consensus, and the citizen's right to appeal personally to the emir. The emir, while directly accountable to no one, cannot violate the Shari’a (Islamic law) and, in practice, must consider the opinions of leading notables and the religious establishment. Their position was institutionalized in the advisory council, an appointed body that assists the emir in formulating policy. There is no electoral system. Political parties are banned.
The influx of expatriate Arabs has introduced ideas that call into question the tenets of Qatar's traditional society, but there has been no serious challenge to Al Thani rule.
The country has undergone a period of liberalization and modernization after Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani came to power. Under his rule, Qatar became the first Persian Gulf country where women gained the right to vote. Also, women can dress mostly as they please in public (although in practice local Qatari women generally don the black abaya). Before the liberalization, 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 operate only in expensive hotels, much like in the Emirates and Bahrain, though the number of establishments has yet to equal that of UAE. The 15th Asian Games brought further liberalization, but Qatari authorities are cautious of becoming too liberal.
Qatar is divided into 10 municipalities: Ad Dawhah, Al Ghuwariyah, Al Jumaliyah, Al Khawr, Al Wakrah, Ar Rayyan, Jariyan al Batnah, Ash Shamal, Umm Salal, Mesaieed, Old Airport.
Qatar's military is made of soldiers from other Arabian Peninsula countries. This Middle Eastern Alliance is called the United Persian Gulf Fighters. It includes soldiers from Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Oman. Most soldiers come from Oman, but the headquarters is set in Doha, Qatar.
To Western eyes, the Qatari authorities seem to keep a relatively tight rein on freedom of expression and moves for equality. But when compared to Saudi Arabia, Qatar boasts one of the best standards-of-living and quality-of-life in its region. Freedom in the World 2006 lists Qatar as "Not Free," and on a one-to-seven scale ("one" being the most free) rates the country a "six" for political rights and five for civil liberties.
Culture of Qatar
History of Qatar
The area occupied by Qatar has been settled since the Stone Age. After the rise of Islam in the 7th cent. A.D. it became part of the Arab caliphate, and later of the Ottoman Empire. In the late 18th cent. it became subject to Wahhabis from the region of present-day Saudi Arabia; they were later supplanted by the Al Thani dynasty. During the Turkish occupation from 1871 to 1913, senior members of the Al Thani family were named deputy governors; subsequently, Qatar became a British protectorate, with Abdullah bin Jassim al-Thani recognized as emir. In 1971, Qatar became independent of Great Britain. In 1972 the reigning emir, Ahmad ibn Ali al-Thani, was deposed by his cousin Khalifa ibn Hamad al-Thani. He in turn was deposed in June, 1995, by his son and heir, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who as crown prince was credited with having launched a major industrial modernization program.
In 1981, Qatar joined neighboring countries in the formation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to strengthen economic relations among the participating nations. The country's stability was threatened by the Iran-Iraq War throughout the 1980s. Territorial disputes with Bahrain over the Hawar Islands and gas fields in the separating sea erupted in 1986, and there were armed clashes with Saudi Arabia in 1992 over their common border. These disputes were not completely settled until 2008.
During the Persian Gulf War (1991), international coalition forces were deployed on Qatari soil. Palestinians were expelled from Qatar in retaliation for the pro-Iraqi stance of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), but since the war relations with the Palestinians have returned to normal. After the Persian Gulf War, Iraq was still regarded as a threat to Qatar's oil interests; Qatar signed a defense pact with the United States but also restored relations with Iraq.
Adopting a moderate course of action, Emir Hamad in the late 1990s eased press censorship and sought improved relations with Iran and Israel; his government worked to mediate a number of international conflicts. He also moved steadily to democratize the nation's government and institute elections. In 2003 voters approved a constitution establishing a largely elected advisory council with the power to pass laws, subject to the emir's approval; women have the right to vote and hold office. The constitution was endorsed by the emir in 2004 and came into force in 2005. The Al Udeid air base, in S central Qatar, has been used by the United States military since late 2001, and is the site of the U.S. Combined Air and Space Operations Center. The U.S. Central Command established forward headquarters in Qatar prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. During the Arab Spring Qatar was supportive of uprisings in Libya, Egypt, and Syria, and was seen as politically allied with Muslim Brotherhood groups in number of Arab nations. Sheikh Hamad abdicated as emir in 2013 and was succeeded by his son Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.
Qatar Area: 11,427 sq km (4,412 sq mi) Population (2004 est.): 754,000 Capital: Doha Head of state and government: Emir Sheikh Hamad ibn Khalifah al-Thani, assisted by Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah ...>>>Read More<<<
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