|State of Qatar
|Anthem: As Salam al Amiri
(and largest city)
|-||Emir||H.H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani|
|-||Prime Minister||Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani|
|-||current ruling family came to power||
December 18, 1878
|-||Termination of special treaty with the United Kingdom||
September 3, 1971
|-||Total||11,437 km2 (164th)
4,416 sq mi
|-||2004 census||744,029 (159th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2008 estimate|
|-||Total||$94.404 billion (65th)|
|-||Per capita||$86,008 (1st)|
|GDP (nominal)||2008 estimate|
|-||Total||$102.302 billion (56th)|
|-||Per capita||$93,204 (3rd)|
|HDI (2007)||▲ 0.910 (very high) (33rd)|
|Time zone||AST (UTC+3)|
|-||Summer (DST)||(not observed) (UTC+3)|
|Drives on the||right|
Qatar (Standard Arabic: [ˈqɑtˁɑr]; English pronunciation: /kəˈtɑr/ kə-TAR; local pronunciation: [ɡitˁar]), also known as the State of Qatar or locally Dawlat Qaṭar, is an Arab emirate in the Middle East, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeasterly coast of the larger Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south; otherwise the Persian Gulf surrounds the state. A strait of the Persian Gulf separates Qatar from the relatively nearby island nation of Bahrain.
Qatar is an oil- and gas-rich nation, with the third largest gas reserves and the highest GDP per capita in the world. An absolute monarchy, Qatar has been ruled by the al-Thani family since the mid-1800s and has since 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 Emir, 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.
The name may derive from "Qatara", believed to refer to the Qatari town of Zubara, an important trading port and town in the region in ancient times. The word "Qatara" first appeared on Ptolemy's map of the Arabian Peninsula.
In Standard Arabic the name is pronounced [ˈqɑtˁɑr], while in the local dialect it is [ɡitˁar]. In English-language broadcast media within Qatar—for example, television commercials for Qatar Airways and advertisements concerning economic development in Qatar—the name is pronounced "KA-tar", with a distinct differentiation between the syllables from the forming of the 't' sound.
Recent discoveries on the edge of an island in the West of Qatar indicate early human presence in pre-historic Qatar. Discovery of a 6th millennium BC site at Shagra, in the South-east of Qatar revealed the key role the sea (Gulf) played in the lives of Shagra’s inhabitants. Excavation at Al-Khore in the North-east of Qatar, Bir Zekrit and Ras Abaruk, and the discovery there of pottery, flint, flint-scraper tools, and painted ceramic vessels there indicates Qatar’s connection with the Al-Ubaid civilization which flourished in the land between the Tigris and the Euphrates during the period of 5th –4th millennium BC. There had also been a barter-based trading system between the settlements at Qatar and the Ubaid Mesopotamia, in which the exchanged commodities were mainly pottery and dried fish.
Islam swept the entire Arabian region in the 7th century. With the spread of Islam in Qatar, Muhammad sent his first envoy Al Ala Al-Hadrami to Al-Mundhir Ibn Sawa Al-Tamimi, the ruler of Bahrain, which extended from the coast of Kuwait to the south of Qatar, including al-Hasa and Bahrain Islands, in the year 628, inviting him to accept Islam as he had invited other kingdoms and empires of his time such as Byzantium and Persia. Mundhir, responding to the Prophet’s call, announced his conversion to Islam, and all the inhabitants of Qatar became Muslim, heralding the beginning of the Islamic era in Qatar.
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.
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 squash the Qatari rebels, sending a massive naval force to Al 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 on December 18, 1878 (for this reason the date of December 18 is celebrated each year as the National Day 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 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 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 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.
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.
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.
Qatar has an emirate government type. 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; the country has not accepted compulsory International Court of Justice jurisdiction.
Since 2004, Qatar has been divided into seven municipalities. A new municipality, Al Daayen, was created under Resolution No. 13, formed from parts of Umm Salal and Al Khawr; at the same time, Al Ghuwariyah was merged with Al Khawr; Al Jumaliyah was merged with Ar Rayyan; and Jarayan al Batnah was split between Ar Rayyan and Al Wakrah.
Qatar has experienced rapid economic growth over the last several years on the back of high oil prices, and in 2008 posted its eighth consecutive budget surplus. Economic policy is focused on developing Qatar's nonassociated natural gas reserves and increasing private and foreign investment in non-energy sectors, but oil and gas still account for more than 50% of GDP, roughly 85% of export earnings, and 70% of government revenues.
Oil and gas have made Qatar the second highest per-capita income country – following Liechtenstein – and one of the world's fastest growing. Proved oil reserves of 15 billion barrels should enable continued output at current levels for 37 years. Qatar's proved reserves of natural gas are nearly 26 trillion cubic meters, about 14% of the world total and third largest in the world.
Before the discovery of oil, the economy of the Qatari region focused on fishing and pearl hunting. 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 reserves of 15 billion barrels (2.4 km³), while gas reserves in the giant North Field (South Pars for Iran) which straddles the border with Iran and are almost as large as the peninsula itself are estimated to be between 80 trillion cubic feet (2,300 km3) to 800 trillion cubic feet (23,000 km3) (1 trillion cubic feet 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 second highest GDP per capita in the world according to the CIA World Factbook. With no income tax, Qatar, along with Bahrain, is one of the countries with the lowest tax rates in the world.
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 Doha 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 an official bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics in October 2007. Qatar also plans to build an "entertainment city" in the future.
Qatar aims 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 world class services in investment, margin and no-interest loans, and capital support. These platforms are situated in an economy founded on the development of its hydrocarbons resources, specifically its exportation of petroleum. 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 capital to finance projects of more than $130 billion, the QFC also provides a conduit for financial institutions to access nearly $1.0 trillion of investments which stretch across the GCC (Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf) as a whole over the next decade.
The new town of Lusail, the largest project ever in Qatar, is under construction.
The primary means of transportation in Qatar is by road, due to the very cheap price of petroleum. The country as a result has an advanced road system undergoing vast upgrades in response to the country's rapidly rising population, with several highways undergoing upgrades and new expressways within Doha under construction. A large bus network connects Doha with other towns in the country, and is the primary means of public transportation in the city.
The Salwa International Highway currently connects Doha to the border with Saudi Arabia, and a causeway with both road and rail links to Bahrain at Zubarah is due to begin construction shortly. The causeway will become the largest in the world, and will be the second to connect Bahrain to the Arabian Peninsula.
Currently, no rail networks exist in the country. In November 2009, however, its government signed a $26 billion contract with the German company Deutsche Bahn to construct a railroad system over the next 20 years. The network will connect the country itself, and will include an international link with neighbouring states as part of a larger rail network being constructed across the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council. A railway link is also under construction between Qatar and Bahrain as part of the Qatar Bahrain Causeway.
Qatar's main airport is the Doha International Airport, which served almost 15,000,000 passengers in 2007. In comparison, the airport served only 2,000,000 passengers in 1998. As a result of the much larger volumes of passengers flying into an through the country today, the New Doha International Airport is currently under construction, and will replace the existing airport in 2011.
|Average high °F (°C)||72
|Average low °F (°C)||55
|Precipitation inches (mm)||0.5
|Source: weather.com 2009-10-26|
Qatar has the highest per-capita carbon dioxide emissions, at 55.5 metric tons per person in 2005. This is almost double the next highest per-capita emitting country, which is Kuwait at 30.7 metric tons (2005) and they are three times those of the United States. Qatar has had the highest per-capita carbon dioxide emissions for the past 18 years. These emissions are largely due to high rates of energy use in Qatar. Major uses of energy in Qatar include natural gas processing, water desalination and electricity production. Between 1995 and 2011 the electricity generating capacity of Qatar will have increased to six times the previous level. The fact that Qataris do not have to pay for either their water or electricity supplies is thought to contribute to their high rate of energy use. Despite being a desert state they are also one of the highest consumers of water per capita per day, using around 400 litres.
The Qatari peninsula juts 100 miles (161 km) north into the Persian Gulf from Saudi Arabia and is slightly smaller than the state of Massachusetts, 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 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) 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.
Sunni Muslims account for 98% percent of the Muslim population. The majority of non-citizens are from South and Southeast Asian and Arab countries working on temporary employment contracts, accompanied by family members in some cases. Most non-citizens are Sunni or Shi'a Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, or Bahá'ís. Most foreign workers and their families live near the major employment centers of Doha, Al Khor, Mesaieed, and Dukhan.
The Hindu community is almost exclusively Indian, while Buddhists include South, Southeast, and East Asians. Most Bahá'ís come from Iran. Religion is not a criterion for citizenship, according to the Nationality Law. However, nearly all Qatari citizens are either Sunni or Shi'a Muslims, except for at least one Christian, a few Bahá'ís, and their respective families who were granted citizenship.
No foreign missionary groups operate openly in the country, but in 2008 the government allowed some churches to conduct mass. In March 2008 the Roman Catholic Church “Our Lady of the Rosary” was consecrated in Doha.
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, Pashto, Malayalam, Punjabi, Urdu, Sindhi, Balochi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Tagalog, 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 3.46 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. Qatari citizens follow the dominant Hanbali branch of Islam practiced in neighboring Saudi Arabia, therefore it is considered the culturally closest Persian Gulf state to 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. Most foreign workers and their families live near the major employment centers of Doha, Al Khor, Mesaieed, and Dukhan.
Qatari culture (music, art, dress, and cuisine) is extremely similar to that of other Arab countries of the Persian Gulf. Arab tribes from Saudi Arabia migrated to Qatar and other places in the gulf; therefore, the culture in the Persian Gulf region varies little from country to country.
Qatar explicitly uses Sharia 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 around 2% of the Muslim population in Qatar(including foreigners).
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 other Arab states of the Persian Gulf 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 and there is a strong emphasis in equality and human rights brought by Qatar's National Human Rights Committee. Qatar also has the largest fines in the world in terms of traffic violation as per the recent change in 2010.
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. The laws of Qatar tolerate alcohol to a certain extent. However, the few bars and nightclubs in Qatar operate only in expensive hotels and clubs, much like in the UAE. Also like in the UAE, Muslims are banned from drinking alcohol. Expatriate residents in Qatar are eligible to receive liquor permits permitting them to purchase alcohol for personal use through Qatar Distribution Company, the only importer and retailer for alcohol in Qatar. Under Qatar's Sharia, alcohol is illegal to be shown/drunk in public.
During the month of Ramadan, showing and eating food in public is strictly banned. This also is applied in the UAE.
In common with other Persian Gulf Arab countries, sponsorship laws exist in Qatar. These laws have been widely described as akin to modern-day slavery. The Sponsorship system (Kafeel or Kafala) exists throughout the GCC and means that a worker (not a tourist) may not enter the country without having a kafeel, cannot leave without the kafeel's permission (an Exit Permit must first be awarded by the sponsor, or kafeel), and the sponsor has the right to ban the employee from entering Qatar within 2–5 years of his first departure. Many sponsors do not allow the transfer of one employee to another sponsor.
In recent years Qatar has placed great emphasis on education. Citizens are required to attend government provided education from kindergarten through high school. Qatar University was founded in 1973. More recently, with the support of the Qatar Foundation, some major American universities have opened branch campuses in Education City, Qatar. These include
In 2004, 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 .
In 2009, the Qatar Foundation launched the World Innovation Summit for Education – WISE – a global forum that brought together education stakeholders, opinion leaders and decision makers from all over the world to discuss educational issues. The first edition was held in Doha, Qatar from 16th to 18th November 2009.
Moreover, in 2007 the American Brookings Institution announced that it was opening the Brookings Doha Center to undertake research and programming on the socio-economic and geo-political issues facing the region.
In November 2002, the Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani created the Supreme Education Council. 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” reform initiative.
The Emir’s second wife, Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned, has been instrumental in new education initiatives in Qatar. She chairs the Qatar Foundation, sits on the board of Qatar’s Supreme Education Council, and is a major driving force behind the importation of Western expertise into the education system, particularly at the college level.
There are currently a total of 567 schools in operation within Qatar, both in the public and the private sector. A large number of new schools are also under construction, particularly public schools, in order to meet increased demand which arose as a result of the large increase in population that the country has seen of late. The number of universities operating in the country are 9, serving 12,480 students.
Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is the premier non-profit health care provider in Doha, Qatar. Established by the Emiri decree in 1979, HMC manages four highly specialised hospitals: Hamad General Hospital, Rumailah Hospital, Women’s Hospital, Psychiatric Hospital and the Primary Health Care Centres. These hospitals are quite sophisticated by the standards of the region, with most hosting advanced fMRI and other scanning machines. Most of them have many patients affected by Down syndrome and other mental illness caused by the high rate of cousin marriage in the country. According to Dr. Ahmed Teebi, sociopathy may possibly be one such illness, but this is disputed.
Qatar has a modern telecommunication system centered in Doha. Tropospheric scatter to Bahrain; microwave radio relay to Saudi Arabia and UAE; submarine cable to Bahrain and UAE; satellite earth stations – two Intelsat (one Atlantic Ocean and one Indian Ocean) and one Arabsat. Callers can call Qatar using submarine cable, satellite or VoIP. However, Qtel has interfered with VoIP systems in the past, and Skype's website has been blocked before. Following complaints from individuals, the website has been unblocked, and Paltalk has previously been blocked.
Qtel’s ISP branch, Internet Qatar, uses SmartFilter to block websites they deem inappropriate to Qatari interests and morality.
In Qatar, ictQATAR (Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology) is the government agency regulating telecommunication.
Vodafone Qatar, in partnership with the Qatar Foundation, received the second public mobile networks and services license in Qatar on 28 June 2008 and switched on their mobile network on 1 March 2009. They launched 07/07/09, opening their online store first followed by retail and third party distribution locations throughout Doha.
Al Jazeera (Arabic: الجزيرة, al-ğazīrä, [al.dʒaˈziː.ra], meaning “The Peninsula”) is a television network headquartered in Doha, Qatar. Al Jazeera initially launched as an Arabic news and current affairs satellite TV channel of the same name, but has since expanded into a network of several specialty TV channels. Print media is going through expansion, with a number of English dailies and Arabic titles. 'theEDGE' is the main monthly business magazine in the country, published by Firefly Communications ME. Oryx Advertising, another publishing group, publishes a couple of business titles in English and Arabic as well as GLAM, a fashion magazine.
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 offence 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.
According to the Trafficking in Persons Report by the US State Department, men and women who are lured into Qatar by promises of high wages are often forced into underpaid labor. The report states that Qatari laws against forced labour are rarely enforced and that labour laws often result in the detention of victims in deportation centres, pending the completion of legal proceedings. The report places Qatar at tier 3, as one of the countries that neither satisfies the minimum standards nor demonstrates significant efforts to come into compliance.
Qatari contracting agency Barwa is constructing a residential area for laborers known as Barwa Al Baraha, also called Workers City. The project was launched after a recent scandal in Dubai's Labor camps. The project aims to provide a reasonable standard of living as defined by the new Human Rights Legislation. The Barwa Al Baraha will cost around $1.1 billion and will be a completely integrated city in the industrial area in Doha. Along with 4.25 square meters of living space per person, the residential project will provide parks, recreational areas, malls, and shops for labourers. Phase one of the project was set to be completed at the end of 2008, and the project itself will be completed by the middle of 2010.
|Institute for Economics and Peace ||Global Peace Index||16 out of 144|
|United Nations Development Programme||Human Development Index||33 out of 182|
|Transparency International||Corruption Perceptions Index||22 out of 180|
|World Economic Forum||Global Competitiveness Report||22 out of 133|
|Currency||Qatari riyal (QAR)|
|Population||1,493,051 (Dec 2008 est.)|
|Language||Arabic (official), English commonly used as a second language|
|Religion||Muslim 95% (All religions are practiced.)|
|Electricity||240V/50Hz (UK plug)|
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, which enable Qatar to have a per capita income almost above the leading industrial countries of Western Europe. Qatar is home to the Al Jazeera television station and is rapidly entering the modern world, including the staging of the 2006 Asian Games.
Oil accounts for more than 30% of GDP, roughly 80% of export earnings, and 58% of government revenues. Proved oil reserves of 3.7 billion barrels should ensure continued output at current levels for 23 years. Oil has given Qatar a per capita GDP comparable to that of the leading West European industrial countries. Qatar's proved reserves of natural gas exceed 7 trillion cubic meters, more than 5% of the world total, third largest in the world. Production and export of natural gas are becoming increasingly important. Long-term goals feature the development of offshore natural gas reserves. In 2000, Qatar posted its highest ever trade surplus of $7 billion, due mainly to high oil prices and increased natural gas exports, and managed to maintain the surplus in 2001.
Khor Al Udeid (Inland Sea) - a region of rolling dunes and high revving engines, many tourists and locals alike enjoy racing up and down the seemingly endless sand dunes. There are a variety of tourism companies that will give you a guided tour of the region, often complete with a traditional Arab meal and campfire.
Qatar issues a visa on arrival at Doha's airport to passengers who are citizens of the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Finland, Spain, Monaco, The Vatican, Iceland, Andorra, San Marino, Liechtenstein, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and the USA. The price is QR 100.00 (US$ 28), payment by credit card is accepted, and grants a one-month stay.
For other nationalities, visa procedures can be complicated, as you will need a guarantor on the Qatari side, either a company or a government entity. Also Qatari embassies, unlike those of most other countries, are not entitled to issue visas, so someone in Qatar will have to file the application for you. 4/5-star hotels offer full visa service, for a price, if you book a room with them for the duration of your stay. Qatar Airways can arrange the hotel and visa for you, tel. +974 4496980. In this case, there also seems to also be a new regulation in place (2008) to either present a credit card or QAR 5000 at the point of entry - which should generally not be a problem, if you can afford the room. When booking with other hotels, you'll need a guarantor in Qatar.
For longer stays, visas must be arranged by having a sponsor. Unmarried women under the age of 35 will have a hard time in procuring a visa for a lengthy stay, as the country seems to fear that their safety and well being cannot be guaranteed.
Despite much online misinformation to the contrary, Qatar actually maintains official low-level relations with Israel, so Israeli passport holders and those holding passports containing Israeli stamps or visas are allowed in, as long as they have valid visas.
When going by plane to Qatar, you will most probably enter the country at Doha's airport. Local carrier Qatar Airways is building a growing worldwide network with flights from there.
The only land route to Qatar is from/through Saudi Arabia, night travel by car is not recommended.And if you are travelling during the day, watch out for speeding cars and trucks. Wear your seat belt and try not to speed over 5 mph.
You can travel to Qatar by bus from/through Saudi Arabia, there are fixed bus routes, within Qatar, although mostly used by men only.
There are three different modes of public transportation that you can use in Qatar: buses, taxis and limousines, all of which are owned by Mowasalat (Karwa) apart from some limousine companies.
The bus service began in October 2005. Ticket prices start from just Qr2.00. You can travel as far north as Al Shamal/Al Ruwais, as far west as Dukhan, and as far south as Mesaieed (Umm Said).
An alternative to taxis and buses would be to use a limousine service, which will send a car to your location (as will Karwa taxis if they are booked by telephone). Limousines are expensive, but they are the most comfortable form of transport.
Walking and using bicycles’ is usually not a good idea in the hotter months of the year, as the heat can get very intense and tiring.
Arabic is the official language, particularly the Gulf dialect. As Qatar was a British protectorate, English is the most common second language, and most locals would be able to speak basic English. As Qatar has thousands of guest workers from US, England, Australia, South Africa, China, Japan, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand and various other countries, a word or two of any languages spoken in these areas can be helpful. However, with such a mixed international population, English is the de facto language allowing the Qataris to communicate with the people who generally handle all of the menial jobs in their country, so it is widely spoken. If you can learn a few words of Arabic, your hosts and any other locals you may meet, will be very impressed and appreciative.
The national currency is the Qatari riyal (QAR). The riyal is pegged to the dollar at the rate of QR 3.65 to US $1.
City Center is currently the largest mall in Qatar and has many stores to choose from. Other malls include Landmark (has a Marks & Spencer store), Hyatt Plaza (becoming a lot better), The Mall (okay), Royal Plaza and Villagio (owned by the same company that owns Landmark and is home to Virgin, The One, and is ranked one of the best malls in the world by Forbes). All of these malls have a huge variety of stores.
Blue Salon has huge sales twice a year where you can pick up Armani, Valentino and Cerutti suits for half price. There are many things to buy here but be wary of cheap pearls as they may not be real. There are many good tailors in Qatar and it is a good place to have clothes made to measure and copied.
The souqs in downtown Doha also have a lot to offer, although the goods are usually of cheaper quality than those of the malls. Prices are usually negotiable, so practice your bargaining skills. Souq Waqif (The Standing Souk) is the most interesting of the souqs; it was recently renovated to look as it did 50 or 60 years ago. You can buy anything from a thobe (dish dash, traditional dress for men) to a pot large enough to cook a baby camel in! It being expanded to 10 times its current size due to popularity.
The country is surrounded by the sea so watersports are a must. Kite-surfing is increasingly popular for the westerners while the locals prefer driving jet-skis at high speed next to the beaches. If you like land more than the sea, feel free to go on one of the safari tours to the desert, try dune-bashing with Landcruisers, Nissans etc. Visit the collection of widely scattered malls around Doha and enjoy yourself.
Qatar has seemingly endless options for food, much of it excellent. If you would like European cuisine in a fancy setting, visit a hotel like the Ramada or the Marriott, both of which also offer excellent sushi and the choice of having drinks with your meal (the only restaurants in town that can do this are in the major hotels), but at a steep price. Authentic and delicious Indian and Pakistani food is found throughout the city, ranging from family-oriented places to very basic eateries catering to the Indian and Pakistani workers. You may attract some curious stares in the worker eateries, but the management will almost always be extremely welcoming, and the food is very inexpensive.
For excellent and truly authentic Thai cuisine, try either Thai Twin (near the Doha Petrol Station and the computer souqs) or Thai Snacks (on Marqab St.), and be sure to sample the delicious spicy papaya salad at either location, but be careful, if you ask them to make it spicy, expect for it to burn.
Middle Eastern cuisine is everywhere as well, and in many forms—kebabs, breads, hummus, the list goes on. It can be purchased on the cheap from a take-out (many of which look quite unimpressive, but serve awesome food) or from a fancier place, like the wonderful Layali (near Chili's in the 'Cholesterol Corner' area) that serves gourmet Lebanese food and has hookahs with flavored tobacco. Refined Persian cuisine is available for reasonable prices in the royally appointed Ras Al-Nasa`a Restaurant on the Corniche (don't miss the cathedral-like rest rooms).
Don't be afraid to venture into the Souqs looking for a meal; it will be a unique experience in an authentic setting, and although some of the places you see may look rundown, that's just the area in general, and the food will be probably be quite good. If you are in a funny kind of mood, you can try a McArabia—McDonald's Middle Eastern sandwich available only in the region.
There is one liquor store, Qatar Distribution Centre, in Doha. To purchase things there, you must have a license that can only be obtained by having a written letter of permission from your employer. You can only get a license when you have obtained your residency permit and you will need to get a letter from your employer confirming your salary in addition to paying a deposit for QR1000. The selection is good and is like any alcohol selection of a large supermarket in the West. Prices are reasonable although not cheap. Alcoholic beverages are available in the restaurants and bars of the major hotels, although they are pricey. As far as non-alcoholic drinks go, be sure and hit some of the Indian and Middle Eastern restaurants and juice stalls. They whip some tasty and exotic fruit juice combinations that really hit the spot.
It is forbidden to bring alcohol in to the country as a tourist; at Doha airport customs xray bags and will confiscate any bottles of alcoholic drink. They will issue a receipt valid for 2 weeks to reclaim the alcohol on exit from the country.
Hotel prices are on the rise in Qatar, and you can expect to pay as much as US$100 for an ordinary double room in a mid-range hotel. Budget accommodation does not seem to exist in Doha. The only hostel is very hard to find; even the taxi drivers at the airport may have to talk it over! It costs 100 Qatari Riyals per night if you don't have YHA membership, QR90 if you do.
Education City is a new project in Doha funded by the Qatari Government though the Qatar Foundation. It is the home to Qatar Academy, the Learning Centre, the Academic Bridge Program (similar to a college prep school), as well as branch campuses of Texas A&M University (Engineering) , Weill Cornell Medical College (Medical) , Virginia Commonwealth University (Arts and Communication), Carnegie Mellon University (Business and Computer Science), Georgetown University (School of Foreign Service), and the latest addition to the fold, Northwestern University (Journalism)  the all located in Education City to the east of Doha in the Rayyan area.
In addition to this Education City is home to the Qatar Science and Technology Park, one of the only places in the Middle East undertaking research and development initiatives. The location of so many academics and students is very appealing for research focused organisations.
The College of the North Atlantic (based in Newfoundland, Canada), also maintains a campus in Doha in the northern section of the city, near the local Qatar University. The University of Calgary (Nursing) is also in Qatar.
The work day starts quite early in Qatar. Do not be surprised by 7AM meetings!
In the summer, many small stores and Arab businesses will be open from 8AM-12PM and 4PM-8PM. During the "siesta", most people return home to escape the oppressive heat.
The emergency phone number for police, ambulance or fire department is 999.
Western women might experience harassment, but it will likely be more annoying than threatening; such as having a man circle around the block whilst you walk down the street, or whisper at you to get your number in the store, but for the most part it will be men staring since it's normal. Women from countries such as Nepal, India, and the Philippines, working as housemaids, are subject to physical abuse. The Indian ambassador noted nearly 200 women working as housemaids sought refuge at the embassy in 2007.
An abaya, the long, black cloak and headscarf worn by local women, can be purchased at a variety of places in Doha.
Qatari driving is reckless. A citizen who kills another through reckless driving can expect a light punishment or none at all. Be extremely cautious on the road as Qataris may drive and cause mayhem with impunity.
Haze, dust storms, and sandstorms are common.
Drink lots of bottled water! No matter how much you drink, you should drink more. Likewise, take proper precautions for the sun, including clothing that covers your skin and sunscreen.
Respect the Islamic beliefs of Qataris and Bedouins: Women shouldn't wear tube tops, and skimpy outfits, although there is no strict rule and women are free to dress as they feel. It is absolutely acceptable for any nationality to wear the traditional Qatari clothes, the thobe.
If you're dining with a Qatari, don't expose the bottoms of your feet to him/her. Don't eat with your left hand either, since the left hand is seen as the 'dirty hand'. Similarly, don't attempt to shake hands or hand a package with your left hand.
If your Qatari friend insists on buying you something—a meal or a gift—let him! Qataris are extremely hospitable, and typically there are no strings attached. It is generally a custom to argue for the bill.
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--Peter Talk 22:28, 12 January 2010 (EST)
Declension of Qatar (type risti)