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Qatar
Qatar, officially the State of Qatar  is an Arab emirate in Southwest Asia, 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. An oil rich nation, Qatar has the highest GDP per capita in the world according to the CIA.

Etymology

The name "Qatar" may derive from the same Arabic root as qatura, which means "to exude." The word Qatura traces to the Arabic qatran meaning "tar" or "resin", which relates to the country's rich resources in petroleum and natural gas.

Other sources say 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.

In Standard Arabic, the name is pronounced IPA: [ˈqɑtˁɑr], while the local dialect pronounces it giṭar 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.

 History

During the pre-Islamic era, the peninsula was often dominated by various Persian dynasties, the last of which (the Sasanians) included the Qatar peninsula, which they called Meshmahig ("Big Island"), in their province of Bahran/Bahrain with its capital 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 occupied by the Muslims. Qarmatians arrived in the area very early during the Islamic era and spread their influence widely, 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.

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.

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.

The International Monetary Fund states that Qatar has the highest GDP per capita in the world, followed by Luxembourg.

  Administrative divisions

Qatar is divided into ten municipalities (Arabic: baladiyah), also occasionally or rarely translated as governorates or provinces:

  1. Ad Dawhah
  2. Al Ghuwariyah
  3. Al Jumaliyah
  4. Al Khawr
  5. Al Wakrah
  6. Ar Rayyan
  7. Jariyan al Batnah
  8. Ash Shamal
  9. Umm Salal
  10. Mesaieed

 Economy

Before the discovery of oil, the economy of the Qatari region focused on fishing and pearling. 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 estimated at 15 billion barrels (2.4 km³). 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) With no income tax, Qatar is also one of the two least-taxed sovereign states in the world (the other is Bahrain).

 Geography

The Qatari peninsula juts 100 miles (161 km) north into the Persian Gulf from Saudi Arabia and is slightly smaller than Connecticut. 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 Gulf. There are mild winters and very hot, humid summers.

The highest point in Qatar is Qurayn Abu al Bawl at 103 metres (340 ft) in the Jebel Dukhan to the west, a range of low limestone outcrops 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.

 Population

Nearly 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, Malayalam, Urdu, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, 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.

In July 2007, the country had a growing population of approximately 907,229 people, of whom approximately 350,000 were believed to be citizens. Of the citizen population, Sunni Muslims form a majority, while the Shi'a Muslims count up to 10-13% of the population.

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. They are of the following faiths: Sunni Muslims, Shi'a Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Bahá'ís. Most foreign workers and their families live near the major employment centers of Doha, Al Khor, Messaeed, and Dukhan.

Year

Month

Population

1908 est.

26,000 - 27,000

1939 est.

28,000

late 1960s

70,000

1986

369,079

1997

522,023

2000

744,483

2001

769,152

2002

793,341

2003

817,052

2004

840,290

2005

863,051

2006

885,359

2007

907,229

2008

1,407,000

 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 Islamic law as the basis of its government, and the vast majority of its citizens follow Hanbali Madhhab. Hanbali is one of the four schools (Madhhabs) of Fiqh or religious law within Islam (The other three are Hanafi, Maliki and Shafii). 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.

  Education

In recent years Qatar has placed great emphasis on education. Along with the country’s free healthcare, citizens enjoy free education from kindergarten through to university. Qatar University was founded in 1973. More recently, with the support of the Qatar Foundation, some major universities have opened campuses in Education City, Qatar. In addition, Northwestern University will offer undergraduate programs in communication and journalism starting in fall 2008. 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.

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.

 Communications

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 - 2 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean) and 1 Arabsat. People can call to Qatar using their submarine cable, satellite or using VoIP (Voice over Internet

Al Jazeera 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 over 3 English dailies and Arabic titles. The magazine segment is dominated by Qatar Today, which is the country's only news, business monthly magazine. It is published by Oryx Advertising Co, which is the largest magazine publisher of the country. The group also brings out several titles like Qatar Al Youm, Qatar's only Arabic monthly business magazine, Woman Today, the only working women's magazine and GLAM, the only fashion title.