Qatar

Introduction Ruled by the Al-Thani family since the mid-1800s, Qatar transformed itself from a poor British protectorate noted mainly for pearling into an independent state with significant oil and natural gas revenues. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Qatari economy was crippled by a continuous siphoning off of petroleum revenues by the Amir, who had ruled the country since 1972. His son, the current Amir HAMAD bin Khalifa Al-Thani, overthrew him in a bloodless coup in 1995. In 2001, Qatar resolved its longstanding border disputes with both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. As of 2007, oil and natural gas revenues had enabled Qatar to attain the highest per capita income in the world.
History

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.

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 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 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.

Geography Location: Middle East, peninsula bordering the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia
Geographic coordinates: 25 30 N, 51 15 E
Map references: Middle East
Area: total: 11,437 sq km
land: 11,437 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Connecticut
Land boundaries: total: 60 km
border countries: Saudi Arabia 60 km
Coastline: 563 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: as determined by bilateral agreements or the median line
Climate: arid; mild, pleasant winters; very hot, humid summers
Terrain: mostly flat and barren desert covered with loose sand and gravel
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
highest point: Qurayn Abu al Bawl 103 m
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, fish
Land use: arable land: 1.64%
permanent crops: 0.27%
other: 98.09% (2005)
Irrigated land: 130 sq km (2002)
Total renewable water resources: 0.1 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.29 cu km/yr (24%/3%/72%)
per capita: 358 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: haze, dust storms, sandstorms common
Environment - current issues: limited natural fresh water resources are increasing dependence on large-scale desalination facilities
Environment - international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: strategic location in central Persian Gulf near major petroleum deposits
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.

People Population: 824,789 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 21.8% (male 92,896/female 87,201)
15-64 years: 76.8% (male 451,127/female 182,330)
65 years and over: 1.4% (male 6,545/female 4,690) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 30.7 years
male: 32.8 years
female: 25.4 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.093% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 15.69 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 2.47 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -2.28 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 2.47 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.4 male(s)/female
total population: 2.01 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 13.09 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 13.99 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 12.13 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 75.19 years
male: 73.5 years
female: 76.98 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.47 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.09% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Qatari(s)
adjective: Qatari
Ethnic groups: Arab 40%, Indian 18%, Pakistani 18%, Iranian 10%, other 14%
Religions: Muslim 77.5%, Christian 8.5%, other 14% (2004 census)
Languages: Arabic (official), English commonly used as a second language
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 89%
male: 89.1%
female: 88.6% (2004 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 13 years
male: 13 years
female: 14 years (2006)
Education expenditures: 3.3% of GDP (2005)
Government Country name: conventional long form: State of Qatar
conventional short form: Qatar
local long form: Dawlat Qatar
local short form: Qatar
note: closest approximation of the native pronunciation falls between cutter and gutter, but not like guitar
Government type: emirate
Capital: name: Doha
geographic coordinates: 25 17 N, 51 32 E
time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 10 municipalities (baladiyat, singular - baladiyah); Ad Dawhah, Al Ghuwayriyah, Al Jumayliyah, Al Khawr, Al Wakrah, Ar Rayyan, Jarayan al Batinah, Madinat ash Shamal, Umm Sa'id, Umm Salal
Independence: 3 September 1971 (from UK)
National holiday: Independence Day, 3 September (1971); also observed is National Day, 18 December
Constitution: ratified by public referendum on 29 April 2003, endorsed by the Amir on 8 June 2004, effective on 9 June 2005
Legal system: based on Islamic and civil law codes; discretionary system of law controlled by the Amir, although civil codes are being implemented; Islamic law dominates family and personal matters; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: Amir HAMAD bin Khalifa Al-Thani (since 27 June 1995 when, as heir apparent, he ousted his father, Amir KHALIFA bin Hamad Al-Thani, in a bloodless coup); Heir Apparent TAMIM bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, fourth son of the monarch (selected Heir Apparent by the monarch on 5 August 2003); note - Amir HAMAD also holds the positions of Minister of Defense and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces
head of government: Prime Minister HAMAD bin Jasim bin Jabir Al-Thani (since 3 April 2007); Deputy Prime Minister Abdallah bin Hamad al-ATIYAH (since 3 April 2007)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the monarch
elections: the monarch is hereditary
note: in April 2007, Qatar held nationwide elections for a 29-member Central Municipal Council (CMC), which has limited consultative powers aimed at improving the provision of municipal services; the first election for the CMC was held in March 1999
Legislative branch: unicameral Advisory Council or Majlis al-Shura (35 seats; members appointed)
note: no legislative elections have been held since 1970 when there were partial elections to the body; Council members have had their terms extended every year since the new constitution came into force on 9 June 2005; the constitution provides for a new 45-member Advisory Council or Majlis al-Shura; the public would elect two-thirds of the Majlis al-Shura; the Amir would appoint the remaining members; preparations are underway to conduct elections to the Majlis al-Shura
Judicial branch: Courts of First Instance, Appeal, and Cassation; an Administrative Court and a Constitutional Court were established in 2007; note - all judges are appointed by Amiri Decree based on the recommendation of the Supreme Judiciary Council for renewable three-year terms
Political parties and leaders: none
Political pressure groups and leaders: none
International organization participation: ABEDA, ACC, AFESD, AMF, FAO, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAPEC, OAS (observer), OIC, OPCW, OPEC, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Ali Fahad al-Shahwany al-HAJRI
chancery: 2555 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20037
telephone: [1] (202) 274-1600 and 274-1603
FAX: [1] (202) 237-0061
consulate(s) general: Houston
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); charge d'Affaires Michael A. RATNEY
embassy: Al-Luqta District, 22 February Road, Doha
mailing address: P. O. Box 2399, Doha
telephone: [974] 488 4298
FAX: [974] 488 4176
Flag description: maroon with a broad white serrated band (nine white points) on the hoist side
Culture

Qatari culture (music, art, dress, and cuisine) is extremely similar to that of other Gulf Arab countries. Arab tribes from Saudi Arabia migrated 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.

Economy Economy - overview: Qatar is in the midst of an economic boom supported by its expanding production of natural gas and oil. Economic policy is focused on development of Qatar's nonassociated natural gas reserves and increasing private and foreign investment in non-energy sectors. Oil and gas account for more than 60% of GDP, roughly 85% of export earnings, and 70% of government revenues. Oil and gas have made Qatar the highest per-capita income country and one of the world's fastest growing. Sustained high oil prices and increased natural gas exports in recent years have helped build Qatar's budget and trade surpluses and foreign reserves. Proved oil reserves of more than 15 billion barrels should ensure continued output at current levels for 22 years. Qatar's proved reserves of natural gas are roughly 25 trillion cubic meters, about 15% of the world total and third largest in the world. Qatar has permitted substantial foreign investment in the development of its gas fields during the last decade and became the world's top liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter in 2007.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $71.42 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $67.76 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 8.4% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $87,600 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 0.1%
industry: 77.8%
services: 22.1% (2007 est.)
Labor force: 881,000 (2007 est.)
Unemployment rate: 0.7% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 13.7% (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 43.3% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $27.12 billion
expenditures: $22.55 billion (2007 est.)
Public debt: 11% of GDP (2007 est.)
Agriculture - products: fruits, vegetables; poultry, dairy products, beef; fish
Industries: crude oil production and refining, ammonia, fertilizers, petrochemicals, steel reinforcing bars, cement, commercial ship repair
Industrial production growth rate: 8% (2007 est.)
Electricity - production: 13.54 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 12.52 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2005)
Oil - production: 797,500 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - consumption: 95,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports: 960,600 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports: 0 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves: 27.4 billion bbl (1 January 2007 est.)
Natural gas - production: 43.93 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 17.93 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 25.99 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 25.79 trillion cu m (1 January 2007 est.)
Current account balance: $10.41 billion (2007 est.)
Exports: $42.02 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities: liquefied natural gas (LNG), petroleum products, fertilizers, steel
Exports - partners: Japan 50.1%, Singapore 12.4%, India 6.5%, Thailand 6.1%, UAE 5.1% (2007)
Imports: $19.86 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and transport equipment, food, chemicals
Imports - partners: US 14.2%, Italy 11.5%, Japan 9.5%, France 8.4%, Germany 7.7%, UK 6%, UAE 5.5%, Saudi Arabia 4.6% (2007)
Economic aid - recipient: $2.18 million (2004)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $9.752 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external: $33.09 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home: $11.18 billion (2007 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad: $5.625 billion (2007 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $61.56 billion (2006)
Currency (code): Qatari rial (QAR)
Currency code: QAR
Exchange rates: Qatari rials per US dollar - 3.64 (2007), 3.64 (2006), 3.64 (2005), 3.64 (2004), 3.64 (2003)
Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 237,400 (2007)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 1.264 million (2007)
Telephone system: general assessment: modern system centered in Doha
domestic: combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular telephone density is roughly 130 telephones per 100 persons
international: country code - 974; landing point for the Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG) submarine cable network that provides links to Asia, Middle East, Europe, and the US; tropospheric scatter to Bahrain; microwave radio relay to Saudi Arabia and the UAE; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean) and 1 Arabsat
Radio broadcast stations: AM 6, FM 5, shortwave 1 (1998)
Radios: 256,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 1 (plus 3 repeaters) (2001)
Televisions: 230,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .qa
Internet hosts: 19 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: 351,000 (2007)
Transportation Airports: 5 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 3
over 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2007)
Heliports: 1 (2007)
Pipelines: condensate 322 km; condensate/gas 209 km; gas 1,970 km; liquid petroleum gas 87 km; oil 741 km (2007)
Roadways: total: 7,761 km (2005)
Merchant marine: total: 21 ships (1000 GRT or over) 636,589 GRT/939,030 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 2, cargo 2, chemical tanker 2, container 8, liquefied gas 3, petroleum tanker 4
foreign-owned: 7 (Kuwait 7)
registered in other countries: 4 (Liberia 3, Panama 1) (2008)
Ports and terminals: Doha, Ra's Laffan
Military Military branches: Qatari Amiri Land Force (QALF), Qatari Amiri Navy (QAN), Qatari Amiri Air Force (QAAF) (2007)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2008)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 320,383
females age 16-49: 167,475 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 258,159
females age 16-49: 143,999 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 6,224
female: 4,845 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures: 10% of GDP (2005 est.)
Transnational Issues Disputes - international: none
Trafficking in persons: current situation: Qatar is a destination country for men and women from South and Southeast Asia who migrate willingly, but are subsequently trafficked into involuntary servitude as domestic workers and laborers, and, to a lesser extent, commercial sexual exploitation; the most common offense was forcing workers to accept worse contract terms than those under which they were recruited; other conditions include bonded labor, withholding of pay, restrictions on movement, arbitrary detention, and physical, mental, and sexual abuse
tier rating: Tier 3 - Qatar failed, for the second consecutive year, to enforce criminal laws against traffickers, or to provide an effective mechanism to identify and protect victims; it continues to detain and deport victims rather than providing them protection; the government made little progress to increase prosecutions for trafficking in a meaningful way in 2007; workers complaining of working conditions or non-payment of wages were sometimes penalized (2008)