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Home : Holidays : Asia : Qatar : Introduction to Qatar

Introduction to Qatar

Qatar is an oil-rich peninsula jutting out into the Gulf between Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. The majority of the country consists of sand dunes and salt flats. The city of Doha combines a rich mixture of traditional Arabic and modern architecture. The Grand Mosque with its many domes and the Abu Bakir al-Siddiq Mosque are particularly interesting. The north contains most of the historic sites, including Umm Salal Mohammed, a relatively large village dominated by the ruins of a 19th-century fort. Al Khor is the second-largest city, situated around a natural shallow harbour. On the west coast there are fine beaches at Umm Bab (??The Palm Tree Beach??) Dukhan and Salwah near the Saudi border. The south is a region of sand dunes and beaches, offering opportunities to go pearl hunting, or to practise any of a number of watersports. Public entertainment can be rather limited. Live entertainment is infrequent, but some international artists do perform in Qatar

coastal view

Current Political Structure

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. Oil and natural gas revenues enable Qatar to have one of the highest per capita incomes in the world.

Social Structure

A small stae with a population of only 885,359 (July 2006 est.), the racial mix are in Arab 40%, Indian 18%, Pakistani 18%, Iranian 10%, other 14%. The national religion is Islam with Muslim consist of 95% of the entire population. The official language is Arabic, however, English is commonly used as a second language.

Qatar Economy

Oil and gas account for more than 60% of GDP, roughly 85% of export earnings, and 70% of government revenues. Oil and gas have given Qatar a per capita GDP about 80% of that of the leading West European industrial countries. 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 23 years. Qatar's proved reserves of natural gas exceed 25 trillion cubic meters, more than 5% 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 is expected to become the world's top liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter in 2007.

Qatar is also trying to attract foreign investment in the development of its non-energy projects by further liberalizing the economy. Qatar has become one of the world's fastest growing and highest per-capita income countries.

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; the problem of trafficking of foreign children as camel jockeys was thoroughly addressed by government action in 2005, but independent confirmation of the problem's complete elimination is not yet available