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,
Terrain: Mostly desert, flat, barren.
Climate: Hot and dry, some humidity in summer.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Qatari(s).
Population (2005 est.): 863,051.
Population growth (2005 est.): 2.61%.
Ethnic groups: Arab 40%, Pakistani 18%, Indian
18%, Iranian 10%, other 14%.
Religion: Islam (state religion, claimed by
virtually all of the indigenous population).
Languages: Arabic (official); English (widely
Education: Compulsory--ages 6-16.
Attendance--98%. Literacy (2004
est.)--89% total population, 89.1% male, 88.6%
Health (2005 est.): Infant mortality rate--18.6
deaths/1,000 live births. Life expectancy--73.7
Work force (1997): 280,122. Industry,
services, and commerce--70%; government--20%;
Type: Constitutional Emirate.
Independence: September 3, 1971.
Constitution: Approved by popular vote 2003;
came into force June 2005.
Branches: Executive--Council of
Council (currently appointed pending elections
in 2006 or 2007; has assumed only limited
responsibility to date). Judicial--independent.
Subdivisions: Fully centralized government; nine
Political parties: None.
Suffrage: Universal over age 18, since 1999.
GDP (2004): $28.45 billion.
Real growth rate (2004) 20.5%.
Per capita income (2004): $32,966.
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 (31% of GDP), natural gas development,
mining, manufacturing, construction, and power.
Trade (2004): Exports--$18.45 billion,
principally oil 47% and gas 36%. Partners
(2004)--Japan 42.1%, South Korea 15.8%,
Singapore 9.1%, India 5.4%, and U.A.E. 2.9%
(U.S. 1.2%). Imports--$6 billion,
principally consumer goods, machinery, food.
Partners (2004)--France 26.7%, U.S. 9.6%,
Saudi Arabia 9.5%, Germany 5.2%, and Japan 5.2%.
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. Qatar has 863,051 people, the majority
of whom live in Doha, the capital. Foreigners
with temporary residence status make up about
four-fifths of the population. Foreign workers
comprise 52% of the total population and make up
88% of the total labor force. Most of them are
South Asians, Egyptians, Palestinians,
Jordanians, and Iranians. About 6,000 U.S.
citizens resided there as of 2001.
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
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
Qatar has been inhabited for millennia. In the
19th century, the Bahraini Al Khalifa family
dominated 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 with
the occupation of Qatar by the Ottoman Turks in
When the Turks 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
In 1935, a 75-year oil concession was granted
to 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. Exploitation was delayed by World War
II, and oil exports did not begin until 1949.
During the 1950s and 1960s gradually
increasing oil reserves 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, however, the nine still had not agreed
on terms of union, and the termination date (end
of 1971) of the British treaty relationship was
approaching. Accordingly, Qatar sought
independence as a separate entity and became the
fully independent State of Qatar on September 3,
In February 1972, the Deputy Ruler and Prime
Minister, Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad, deposed his
cousin, Emir Ahmad, and assumed power. This move
was supported by the key members of Al Thani and
took place without violence or signs of
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. Since then, the Emir
has 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 expected by
early 2007. Qatari citizens approved a new
constitution via public referendum in April
2003, which came into force in June 2005.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
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 a two-thirds elected
legislative body and makes ministers accountable
to the legislature. National elections are not
expected until 2007 or 2007, and 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. Their position is
institutionalized in the Advisory Council, an
appointed body that assists the Emir in
formulating policy. 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
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 family.
Principal Government Officials
Emir, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces,
and Minister of Defense--HH Sheikh Hamad bin
Khalifa Al Thani
Deputy Ruler, Crown Prince, deputy Chief of the
Armed Forces--HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin
Khalifa Al Thani
Prime Minister--HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime
Minister--HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabir
Ambassador to the U.S.--HE Nasir Bin Hamad
Qatar maintains an embassy in the United
States at 4200 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Suite 200,
Washington, DC 20016 (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 ($723 million)
accounted for approximately 10% of GNP in 2001.
Qatar maintains a modest military force of about
6,797 men, including an army, navy, air force,
and public security. 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
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 ranks of the world's
poorest countries and providing it with one of
the highest per capita incomes. The trend has
continued, thanks in part to burgeoning gas
Qatar's economy was in a downturn from in the
mid-1990s. The Organization of Petroleum
Exporting Countries' quotas on crude oil
production, the lower price for oil, and the
generally unpromising outlook on international
markets reduced oil earnings. In turn, the
Qatari Government's spending plans had to be cut
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 800,000
barrels per day (bpd), and is expected to reach
1,000,000 bpd by 2008. At the current production
pace, oil reserves are expected to last more
than 40 years. Moreover, large natural gas
reserves have been located off Qatar's northeast
coast. Qatar's proven reserves of gas are the
third-largest in the world, exceeding 900
trillion cubic feet. Qatar has the largest
single non-associated gas field in the world,
the North Field. Qatar sits on 14% of the
world’s total proven gas reserves. Qatar
currently exports 14 million metric tons per
annum (mmta) of natural gas, and it expects to
reach 77 mmta of liquefied natural gas (LNG)
exports by 2010, thus becoming the largest
natural gas exporter in the world. In five
years, Qatar could very likely supply one-third
of the world’s LNG needs.
The economy was boosted in 1991 by completion
of the $1.5-billion Phase I of North Field gas
development. In 1996, the Qatar gas project
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
agreements have been concluded 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.
Qatar's heavy industrial projects, all based
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. 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 North
Field gas development and related energy and
water infrastructure development.
The country’s economic growth potential is
stunning. Qatar’s GDP, currently around $30
billion, has grown at an average of 19% over the
past five years. GDP grew by 20.5% in 2004.
Qatar’s per capita GDP is more than $30,000,
soon to be the highest in the world. Even more
important is the Qatari Government’s strategy to
utilize its wealth to generate more wealth by
diversifying the economic base of the country
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 a Qatari border post was allegedly
attacked by Saudi forces, 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
Qatar and Bahrain disputed ownership of the
Hawar Islands. The International Court of
Justice in The Hague 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
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
initiative, 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
and the Virginia Commonwealth University School
of Design also have branch campuses in Qatar's
newly inaugurated "Education City" complex.
Principal U.S. Officials
Deputy Chief of Mission--Scott McGehee
Political/Economic Counselor--Rob Pyott
Political Officer--Farah Chery-Medor
Economic/Commercial Officer--Guy Strandemo
Consular Officer--Larry Mitchell
Public Affairs Officer--Mirembe Natongo
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.