FAQ 1  FAQ 2  FAQ 3


Qatar - Tips

Thu, 8 Jul 2010 00:41:48

Qatar Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs
June 2007

Background Note: Qatar

A potter demonstrates his craft
during cultural festival, Doha,
Qatar, March 23, 2005. [© AP Images]

Flag of Qatar is maroon with a broad white serrated band - nine white points
- on the hoist side.


State of Qatar

Area: 11,437 sq. km. (4,427 sq. mi.); about the size of Connecticut and Rhode
Island combined.
Cities: Capital--Doha 431,525 (2005 est.). Other cities--Umm Said, Al-Khor,
Dukhan, Ruwais.
Terrain: Mostly desert, flat, barren.
Climate: Hot and humid, with a dryer winter.

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Qatari(s).
Population (July 2007 est.): 907,229.
Population growth (July 2007 est.): 2.386%.
Ethnic groups: Arab 40%, Pakistani 18%, Indian 18%, Iranian 10%, other 14%.
Religion: Islam (state religion, claimed by virtually all of the indigenous
Languages: Arabic (official); English (widely spoken).
Education: Compulsory--ages 6-16. Attendance--98%. Literacy (2004 est.)--89%
total population, 89.1% male, 88.6% female.
Health (2007 est.): Infant mortality rate--17.46/1,000 live births. Life
expectancy--74.14 years.
Work force (2006): 508,000. Private sector--61.2%; mixed sector--28.5%;

Type: Constitutional Emirate.
Independence: September 3, 1971.
Constitution: Approved by popular vote 2003; came into force June 2005.
Branches: Executive--Council of Ministers. Legislative--Advisory Council
(currently appointed pending elections in 2008; has assumed only limited
responsibility to date). Judicial--independent.
Subdivisions: Fully centralized government; nine municipalities.
Political parties: None.
Suffrage: Universal over age 18, since 1999.

GDP (2006): $52.7 billion.
Real growth rate (2006) 7.1%.
Per capita income (2006): $61,540.
Natural resources: Petroleum, natural gas, fish.
Agriculture: Accounts for less than 2% of GDP. Products--fruits and
vegetables (most food is imported).
Industry: Types--oil production and refining and natural gas development (60%
of GDP), mining, manufacturing, construction, and power.
Trade (2006 est.): Exports--$33.25 billion, principally oil 47% and gas 36%.
Partners (2005)--Japan 36.3%, South Korea 19.1%, Singapore 8.1%, India 5.1%,
and U.A.E. 2.9% (U.S. 1.2%). Imports--$6.7 billion, principally consumer
goods, machinery, food. Partners (2005)--France 11.8%, Japan 10.7% U.S.
10.6%, Germany 8.5%, Saudi Arabia 7.4%, UK 7.1%, Italy 6.6%, South Korea
5.6%, and the UAE 4.9%.

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. Some are descended
from Omani tribes. Most of Qatar's 885,359 inhabitants live in Doha, the
capital. Foreigners with temporary residence status make up about
three-fourths of the population. Foreign workers comprise 52% of the total
population and make up about 89% of the total labor force. Most are South
Asians, Egyptians, Palestinians, Jordanians, and Iranians. About 6,000 U.S.
citizens reside in Qatar.

For centuries, the main sources of wealth were pearling, fishing, and trade.
At one time, Qataris owned nearly one-third of the Persian Gulf fishing
fleet. With the Great Depression and the introduction of Japan's
cultured-pearl industry, pearling in Qatar declined drastically.

The Qataris are mainly Sunni "Wahhabi" Muslims. Islam is the official
religion, and Islamic jurisprudence is the basis of Qatar's legal system.
Arabic is the official language, and English is the lingua franca. Education
is compulsory and free for all Arab residents 6-16 years old. Qatar has an
increasingly high literacy rate.

Qatar has been inhabited for millennia. The Al Khalifa family of Bahrain
dominated the area until 1868 when, at the request of Qatari nobles, the
British negotiated the termination of the Bahraini claim, except for the
payment of tribute. The tribute ended when the Ottoman Empire occupied Qatar
in 1872.

When the Ottomans left at the beginning of World War I, the British
recognized Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani as ruler. The Al Thani family
had lived in Qatar for 200 years. The 1916 treaty between the United Kingdom
and Sheikh Abdullah was similar to those entered into by the British with
other Gulf principalities. Under it, the ruler agreed not to dispose of any
of his territory except to the U.K. and not to enter into relationships with
any other foreign government without British consent. In return, the British
promised to protect Qatar from all aggression by sea and to lend their good
offices in case of a land attack. A 1934 treaty granted more extensive
British protection.

In 1935, a 75-year oil concession was granted to the Qatar Petroleum Company,
a subsidiary of the Iraq Petroleum Company, which was owned by Anglo-Dutch,
French, and U.S. interests. High-quality oil was discovered in 1940 at
Dukhan, on the western side of the Qatari Peninsula. However, the start of
WWII delayed exploitation of Qatar's oil resources, and oil exports did not
begin until 1949.

During the 1950s and 1960s gradually increasing oil revenues brought
prosperity, rapid immigration, substantial social progress, and the
beginnings of Qatar's modern history. When the U.K. announced a policy in
1968 (reaffirmed in March 1971) of ending the treaty relationships with the
Gulf sheikdoms, Qatar joined the other eight states then under British
protection (the seven trucial sheikdoms--the present United Arab
Emirates--and Bahrain) in a plan to form a union of Arab emirates. By
mid-1971, as the termination date of the British treaty relationship (end of
1971) approached, the nine still had not agreed on terms of union.
Accordingly, Qatar declared independence as a separate entity and became the
fully independent State of Qatar on September 3, 1971.

In February 1972, the Deputy Ruler and Prime Minister, Sheikh Khalifa bin
Hamad, deposed his cousin, Emir Ahmad, and assumed power. Key members of the
Al Thani family supported this move which took place without violence or
signs of political unrest.

On June 27, 1995, the Deputy Ruler, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, deposed his
father Emir Khalifa in a bloodless coup. Emir Hamad and his father reconciled
in 1996. The Emir announced his intention for Qatar to move toward democracy
and has permitted a free and open press and municipal elections as a
precursor to parliamentary elections, now expected in 2008. Qatari citizens
approved a new constitution via public referendum in April 2003, which came
into force in June 2005.

The ruling Al Thani family continued to hold power following the declaration
of independence in 1971. 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 to one based on more formal and democratic
institutions to meet the requirements of social and economic progress. The
country's constitution formalizes the hereditary rule of the Al Thani family,
but it also establishes an elected legislative body and makes government
ministers accountable to the legislature. In current practice, 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.

The opinions of the people are institutionalized in the Advisory Council, an
appointed body that assists the Emir in formulating policy. However, it is
likely that the first elections for this body will occur in 2008. Elections
in 1999 in which men and women participated resulted in the formation of a
municipal council. One woman candidate was elected to the municipal council
in 2003. Municipal elections were held for the third time in April 2007.

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. As the most visible sign of the move toward
openness, the Al Jazeera satellite television station based in Qatar is
considered the most free and unfettered broadcast source in the Arab world.
In practice, however, Al Jazeera rarely criticizes the ruling Al Thani

Principal Government Officials
Emir, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, and Minister of Defense--HH
Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani
Deputy Ruler, Heir Apparent, Deputy Chief of the Armed Forces--HH Sheikh
Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani
Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs --HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim
bin Jabir Al Thani
Minister of Energy and Industry and Deputy Prime Minister--Abdullahal-Attiyah
Ambassador to the U.S.--vacant

Qatar maintains an embassy in the United States at 2555 M Street, NW,
Washington, DC 20037 (tel. 202-274-1600) and a consulate in Houston at 4265
San Felipe Street, Suite 1100, Houston, Texas 77207 (tel. 713-968-9840).
Qatar's Permanent Mission to the United Nations is at 747 Third Ave., 22nd
floor, New York, NY 10017 (tel. 212-486-9335).

Qatar's defense expenditures are estimated to be in the range of 10% of GDP.
Qatar maintains a modest military force of about 12,000 men, including an
army, navy, and air force. The country has a public security force of about
8,000 men, including a coast guard, national firefighting force, air wing,
marine police, and an internal security force. Qatar also has signed defense
pacts with the U.S., U.K., and France. Qatar plays an active role in the
collective defense efforts of the Gulf Cooperation Council (the regional
organization of the Arab states in the Gulf; the other five members are Saudi
Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the U.A.E., and Oman). Qatari forces played an
important role in the first Gulf War, and Qatar has supported U.S. military
operations critical to the success of Operation Enduring Freedom and
Operation Iraqi Freedom. Qatar hosts CENTCOM Forward Headquarters.

Oil formed the cornerstone of Qatar's economy well into the 1990s and still
accounts for about 60% of total government revenue. In 1973, oil production
and revenues increased sizably, moving Qatar out of the rank of the world's
poorest countries and providing it with one of the highest per capita
incomes. In 2006, Qatar's per capita income of more than $61,000 was the
fifth highest in the world.

Qatar's economy suffered a downturn from in the mid-1990s. Lower Organization
of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) oil production quotas, a fall in oil
prices, and the generally unpromising outlook on international markets
reduced oil earnings. In turn, the Qatari Government cut spending plans to
match lower income. The resulting recessionary local business climate caused
many firms to lay off expatriate staff. With the economy recovering in the
late 1990s, expatriate populations have grown again.

Oil production is currently around 850,000 barrels a day (bpd), and is
expected to reach 1.1 million bpd by 2009. At the current production pace,
oil reserves are expected to last more than 40 years. Moreover, Qatar's
proven reserves of gas are the third-largest in the world, exceeding 900
trillion cubic feet (14% of the world's total proven gas reserves). Qatar has
the largest single non-associated gas field in the world, the North Field.
Qatar is the world's largest producer of liquefied natural gas (LNG), with a
capacity of more than 30 million metric tons per annum (mmta), and it expects
to reach 77 mmta of LNG exports by 2010. By 2010, Qatar will account for
one-third of the world's LNG supply.

The 1991 completion of the $1.5-billion Phase I of the North Field gas
development project strongly boosted the economy. In 1996, Qatar began
exporting liquefied natural gas to Japan. Further phases of North Field gas
development costing billions of dollars are in various stages of planning and
development, and Qatar has concluded agreements with the U.A.E. to export gas
via pipelines and to Spain, Turkey, Italy, the U.S., France, South Korea,
India, China, Taiwan, and the U.K. via ship. However, the government has
halted any further expansion of gas production until 2010, as it asses its
plans for future exploitation of the field.

Qatar's heavy industrial base, located in Umm Said, include a refinery with a
140,000 bpd capacity, a fertilizer plant for urea and ammonia, a steel plant,
and a petrochemical plant. In keeping with the goal of economic
diversification, several new petrochemical plants will be built in the coming
years. All these industries use gas for fuel. Most are joint ventures between
U.S., European, and Japanese firms and the state-owned Qatar Petroleum (QP).
The U.S. is the major equipment supplier for Qatar's oil and gas industry,
and U.S. companies are playing a major role in the development of the oil and
gas sector and petrochemicals.

The country's economic growth has been stunning. Qatar's nominal GDP,
currently around $52.7 billion, has grown an average of 15% over the past
five years. GDP is expected to grow approximately 8.3% in 2007. Qatar's per
capita GDP is more than $60,000, and projected to soon be the highest in the
world. The Qatari Government's strategy is to utilize its wealth to generate
more wealth by diversifying the economic base of the country beyond

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

Qatar achieved full independence in an atmosphere of cooperation with the
U.K. and friendship with neighboring states. Most Arab states, the U.K., and
the U.S. were among the first countries to recognize Qatar, and the state
promptly gained admittance to the United Nations and the Arab League. Qatar
established diplomatic relations with the U.S.S.R. and China in 1988. It was
an early member of OPEC and a founding member of the GCC.

In September 1992, tensions arose with Saudi Arabia when Saudi forces
allegedly attacked a Qatari border post, resulting in two deaths. Relations
have since improved, and a joint commission has been set up to demarcate the
border as agreed between the two governments.

For years, both Qatar and Bahrain claimed ownership of the Hawar Islands. The
case was eventually referred to the International Court of Justice in The
Hague. The ICJ issued a ruling in June 2001, which both sides accepted. In
the agreement Bahrain kept the main Hawar Island but dropped claims to parts
of mainland Qatar, while Qatar retained significant maritime areas and their

Bilateral relations are strong and expanding. The U.S. embassy was opened in
March 1973. The first resident U.S. ambassador arrived in July 1974. Ties
between the U.S. and Qatar are excellent and marked by frequent senior-level
consultations in Doha and Washington. Emir Hamad visited Washington in 2004,
and President Bush visited Qatar in 2003. Qatar and the United States
coordinate closely on regional diplomatic initiatives, cooperate to increase
security in the Gulf, and enjoy extensive economic links, especially in the
hydrocarbons sector. Qatar sees the development of a world-class educational
system as key to its continued success. As a result, hundreds of Qataris
study in the United States. Cornell University has established a
degree-granting branch medical school campus in Doha, and other universities
including Texas A&M, Carnegie Mellon University, the Virginia Commonwealth
University School of Design, and the Georgetown School of Foreign Service
also have branch campuses in Qatar's newly inaugurated "Education City"

Principal U.S. Officials
Ambassador--Chase Untermeyer
Deputy Chief of Mission--Michael Ratney
Political/Economic Counselor--Rob Pyott
Senior Commercial Officer--Robert Peaslee
Consular Officer--Timothy Ponce
Public Affairs Officer--Mirembe Nantongo

The U.S. Embassy in Qatar is located in Doha at 22 February Road, Al Luqta
District, Doha, Qatar. Mailing address: P.O. Box 23, Doha. Tel.:
974-488-4161; fax 4884150. The embassy is open Sunday through Thursday
(Qatar's workweek), closed for U.S. and Qatari holidays.

The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program advises Americans
traveling and residing abroad through Consular Information Sheets, Public
Announcements, and Travel Warnings. Consular Information Sheets exist for all
countries and include information on entry and exit requirements, currency
regulations, health conditions, safety and security, crime, political
disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.
Public Announcements are issued to disseminate information quickly about
terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that
pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Travel Warnings
are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel
to a certain country because the situation is dangerous or unstable.

For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad
should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet
web site at http://www.travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution,
Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings can be found. Consular Affairs
Publications, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a
safe trip abroad, are also available at http://www.travel.state.gov. For
additional information on international travel, see http://www.usa.gov/

The Department of State encourages all U.S citizens who traveling or residing
abroad to register via the State Department's travel registration website or
at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Registration will make your
presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an
emergency and will enable you to receive up-to-date information on security

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained
by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or the regular
toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.

The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of
State's single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport
information. Telephone: 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service
representatives and operators for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 7:00
a.m. to 12:00 midnight, Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP
(877-394-8747) and a web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm give the
most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements,
and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A
booklet entitled "Health Information for International Travel" (HHS
publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S. Government
Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.

Further Electronic Information
Department of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at http://
www.state.gov, the Department of State web site provides timely, global
access to official U.S. foreign policy information, including Background
Notes and daily press briefings along with the directory of key officers of
Foreign Service posts and more. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)
provides security information and regional news that impact U.S. companies
working abroad through its website http://www.osac.gov

Export.gov provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market
information offered by the federal government and provides trade leads, free
export counseling, help with the export process, and more.
STAT-USA/Internet, a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides
authoritative economic, business, and international trade information from
the Federal government. The site includes current and historical
trade-related releases, international market research, trade opportunities,
and country analysis and provides access to the National Trade Data Bank. ***********************************************************
See http://www.state.gov/r/pa/bgn/ for all Background notes
To change your subscription, go to http://www.state.gov/misc/echannels/66822.htm Qatar

Cookie Policy

We create a cookie when you Log-in. We do not use cookies to track. Terms and Privacy Statement.