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(both: kŭ`tər, gŭ–, kətär`), officially State of Qatar, independent emirate (2015 est. pop. 2,482,000), c.4,400 sq mi (11,400 sq km), E Arabia, coextensive with the Qatar peninsula, which projects into the Persian Gulf. The capital and largest city is DohaDoha
, city (1994 est. pop. 361,500), capital of Qatar, SE Arabia, on the Persian Gulf. Doha was a small fishing and pearling village until oil production in Qatar began in 1949. Since then it has become a modern city, with a deepwater port and an international airport.
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Land and People

Qatar is largely barren, flat desert. Water is scarce, and agriculture is minimal. Once a nomadic society, Qatar now has little rural population. Doha, the main urban center, is on the eastern coast of the peninsula. Most native Qataris, who make up about 10% to 15% of the population, are Sunni Arabs of the WahhabiWahhabi
or Wahabi
, reform movement in Islam, originating in Arabia; adherents of the movement usually refer to themselves as Muwahhidun [unitarians]. It was founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahab (c.
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 sect of Islam. Most of the nonnative population are foreign workers, including South Asians, Iranians, and Palestinians. Overall roughly three fourths of the population are Muslim; there are Christian, Hindu, and other minorities. Arabic is the official language, although English is widely used.


Qatar imports the majority of its food. Agriculture is limited to fruits, vegetables, and livestock, and there is some fishing. Oil and natural gas, the mainstays of the economy, account for roughly 85% of the country's export earnings. Although total oil reserves are somewhat modest in comparison to other Persian Gulf countries, Qatar is one of the largest natural-gas producers in the world. The vast North Field gas reserve, an underwater field northeast of the Qatar peninsula, began production in the 1990s. Natural gas, crude oil, refined petroleum, and petrochemicals are produced, and ammonia, fertilizers, and steel are some of Qatar's developing diversified industries. The country has also become a regional banking center. Native Qataris have one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, but foreign workers have been subject to labor laws that gave their Qatari employers excessive control over foreign employees, often amounting to forced labor, especially in construction industries. Under foreign pressure, labor reforms were enacted in 2016 and 2018, but significant restrictions on many foreign workers remain. In addition to petroleum and liquefied natural gas, steel and fertilizer are exported, while machinery, transportation equipment, food, and chemicals are imported. Japan, South Korea, France, and the United States are the major trading partners.


Qatar is a traditional monarchy headed by the emir, who is the head of state. The government is headed by the prime minister, who is appointed by the emir. A new constitution came into force in 2005, providing for a 45-seat consultative council, two thirds of whose members would be elected and one third appointed by the emir, but it has not yet been established. The previous provisional constitution (1972) called for elections to the 35-seat advisory council (Shura), but none were held. Council members, appointed by the ruling family, have had their terms extended since 2005; elections for the new council are slated for 2013. Administratively, the country is divided into ten municipalities.


The area occupied by Qatar has been settled since the Stone Age. After the rise of Islam in the 7th cent. A.D. it became part of the Arab caliphate, and later of the Ottoman EmpireOttoman Empire
, vast state founded in the late 13th cent. by Turkish tribes in Anatolia and ruled by the descendants of Osman I until its dissolution in 1918. Modern Turkey formed only part of the empire, but the terms "Turkey" and "Ottoman Empire" were often used
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. In the late 18th cent. it became subject to Wahhabis from the region of present-day Saudi Arabia; they were later supplanted by the Al Thani dynasty. During the Turkish occupation from 1871 to 1913, senior members of the Al Thani family were named deputy governors; subsequently, Qatar became a British protectorate, with Abdullah bin Jassim al-Thani recognized as emir. In 1971, Qatar became independent of Great Britain. In 1972 the reigning emir, Ahmad bin Ali al-Thani, was deposed by his cousin Khalifa bin Hamad al-ThaniKhalifa bin Hamad al-Thani,
1932–2016, emir of Qatar (1972–95). Khalifa was the son of Hamad bin Abdullah al-Thani, the second emir's heir apparent, but Hamad died (1948) before the emir.
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. He in turn was deposed in June, 1995, by his son and heir, Hamad bin Khalifa al-ThaniHamad bin Khalifa al-Thani,
1952–, emir of Qatar (1995–2013). The son of Emir Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani, Hamad is credited with having turned a country of desert nomads into a modern, industrialized nation.
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, who as crown prince was credited with having launched a major industrial modernization program.

In 1981, Qatar joined neighboring countries in the formation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to strengthen economic relations among the participating nations. The country's stability was threatened by the Iran-Iraq WarIran-Iraq War,
1980–88, protracted military conflict between Iran and Iraq. It officially began on Sept. 22, 1980, with an Iraqi land and air invasion of western Iran, although Iraqi spokespersons maintained that Iran had been engaging in artillery attacks on Iraqi towns
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 throughout the 1980s. Territorial disputes with Bahrain over the Hawar Islands and gas fields in the separating sea erupted in 1986, and there were armed clashes with Saudi Arabia in 1992 over their common border. These disputes were not completely settled until 2008.

During the Persian Gulf WarPersian Gulf Wars,
two conflicts involving Iraq and U.S.-led coalitions in the late 20th and early 21st cent.

The First Persian Gulf War, also known as the Gulf War, Jan.–Feb.
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 (1991), international coalition forces were deployed on Qatari soil. Palestinians were expelled from Qatar in retaliation for the pro-Iraqi stance of the Palestine Liberation OrganizationPalestine Liberation Organization
(PLO), coordinating council for Palestinian organizations, founded (1964) by Egypt and the Arab League and initially controlled by Egypt.
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 (PLO), but since the war relations with the Palestinians have returned to normal. After the Persian Gulf War, Iraq was still regarded as a threat to Qatar's oil interests; Qatar signed a defense pact with the United States but also restored relations with Iraq.

Adopting a moderate course of action, Emir Hamad in the late 1990s eased press censorship and sought improved relations with Iran and Israel; his government worked to mediate a number of international conflicts. He also moved steadily to democratize the nation's government and institute elections. In 2003 voters approved a constitution establishing a largely elected advisory council with the power to pass laws, subject to the emir's approval; women have the right to vote and hold office. The constitution was endorsed by the emir in 2004 and came into force in 2005, but the elections for the council, scheduled for 2013, have since been postponed. The Al Udeid air base, in S central Qatar, has been used by the United States military since late 2001, and is the site of the U.S. Combined Air and Space Operations Center. The U.S. Central Command established forward headquarters in Qatar prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

During the Arab SpringArab Spring,
in modern North African and Middle Eastern history, antigovernment demonstrations and uprisings that, from late 2010, swept many of the regions' Arab nations.
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 Qatar was supportive of uprisings in Libya, Egypt, and Syria, and was seen as politically allied with Muslim BrotherhoodMuslim Brotherhood,
officially Jamiat al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun [Arab.,=Society of Muslim Brothers], religious and political organization founded (1928) in Egypt by Hasan al-Banna.
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 groups in number of Arab nations. Sheikh Hamad abdicated as emir in 2013 and was succeeded by his son Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-ThaniTamim bin Hamad al-Thani,
1980–, emir of Qatar (2013–). The fourth son of Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, he became heir apparent when his older brother Jasmin renounced his claim to the throne in 2003.
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; the father, however, remained a powerful figure behind the scenes. Preparations for the 2022 World Cup, to be hosted by Qatar, threw light on the country's labor laws and the conditions of migrants working there. Under the country's system of kafala, or sponsorship, workers could not leave the country or change jobs without their sponsor's permission; there were accusations of abuse of foreign workers involved in construction projects. Under foreign pressure the government in 2016 enacted reforms designed to curb the worst abuses and allow workers to leave the country freely; further reforms were introduced in 2020.

In 2014 there were tensions with Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates over Qatar's support for Islamists in foreign countries. In June, 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Eqypt, and a few other nations cut diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting jihadist groups and destablizing the region. Qatar rejected the accusations, and received support from Turkey and Iran. Kuwait and Oman, the other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, remained neutral. Qatar rejected a list of demands issued two weeks later; among them were closing the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera and ending support of the Muslim Brotherhood. The country adapted to the economic blockade, in some cases becoming more self-sufficient as a result. Qatar withdrew from the Saudi-dominated Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in 2019; it had joined OPEC in 1961. In Jan., 2021, diplomatic tensions with the Arab nations that had cut ties in 2017 eased after they and Qatar signed an accord that largely left the pre-2017 situation unchanged.


See R. S. Zahlan, The Creation of Qatar (1979); B. Reich, Qatar (1989); A. J. Fromherz, Qatar: A Modern History (2012); M. Kamrava, Qatar: Small State, Big Politics (2013).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a state in western Asia, on the Qatar peninsula, in the eastern part of the Arabian peninsula. Qatar is washed by the Persian Gulf. It is bounded in the south by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It was a protectorate of Great Britain until Sept. 1, 1971. The area is 22, 000 sq km. The population is 130, 000 (1971). The capital is the city of Doha.

Qatar is an absolute monarchy, and the head of state is the sheikh. A temporary constitution, adopted on Apr. 2, 1970, was put into effect in July 1970.

Natural features. Most of the shores are low and flat, and some sections are sharply jagged with gulfs and framed by coral reefs. The surface, composed mainly of limestones, is a low-lying, stony, and occasionally marshy plain. The country is rich in deposits of natural gas and petroleum. Qatar has a desert climate. The annual precipitation is about 100 mm; the average January temperature is about 16°C, the average July temperature about 32°C, and the maximum temperature about 45°C. There are no permanent rivers and many dry beds. Qatar has desert vegetation, with few oases.

Population. The local Arab population numbers about 60, 000 (1970 estimate); the remaining population is composed of immigrants from other Arab countries, Iran, India, and Pakistan. About 7, 000 Africans also live in the country. The official language is Arabic. The majority of the local population are Wah-habi Muslims. The Muslim calendar (Hejira) and the Gregorian calendar are used.

From 1963 to 1970 the average population increase was 5.3 percent a year; this was the result of intensive immigration caused by the development of the economy, primarily in petroleum extraction. Of the 50, 000 in the economically active population, agriculture accounted for 1, 800 people. Most of the workers are employed in petroleum extraction (about 5, 000 persons), road and building construction, and municipal services. The majority of the population is settled (in the oases, along the coast, and in the petroleum regions); an insignificant number of people are nomads. The population density is about 6 persons per sq km (1971). About 80 percent of the population lives in the region of Doha. The urban population was about 70 percent in 1970. The major cities are Doha (population about 90, 000 in 1971), Dukhan, and Umm Said.

Historical survey. The Qatar peninsula was settled as early as the third or second millennium B.C. The first reference to Qatar is found in the work of the Roman writer Pliny the Elder in the first century A.D. Qatar was repeatedly conquered by the Sassa-nids. Incorporated into the Arab caliphate in the seventh century, Qatar was part of the state of the Karmathians after the collapse of the caliphate in the tenth century and was under the rule of the emirs of Bahrain in the 13th and 14th centuries. In the early 16th century Bahrain and Qatar were seized by the Portuguese and later by the Ottoman Turks. In the 17th century Qatar became the object of contention between Iran, Turkey, and the chiefs and rulers of various Arab tribes, of Oman, and of the Saudis. In the second half of the 18th century a small principality arose in the territory of Qatar, led by the Thani dynasty of the al-Thani tribe, which united all of Qatar in the late 19th century. The state was characterized by feudal relations, with survivals of slavery and a clan and tribal organization.

In 1868, Great Britain interfered in the strife between the rulers of Bahrain and Qatar and imposed an unequal treaty on Qatar. In 1871, Qatar was again occupied by the Ottoman Empire, and a Turkish governor (pasha) became the formal ruler of Qatar. Sheikh Kasem bin Muhammad al-Thani, who reigned from 1878 to 1913, is considered the founder of the principality of Qatar. He united the warring tribes and pursued a relatively independent policy with respect to Turkey. In 1914, Turkey renounced its rights to Qatar in favor of Great Britain. On Nov. 3, 1916, the latter imposed on Qatar a treaty establishing a British protectorate over Qatar. In 1935 the Anglo-French-American-Dutch company Petroleum Development of Qatar (changed to Qatar Petroleum Company in the 1960’s) obtained concessions for prospecting and extracting petroleum in Qatar for 75 years. The extraction of petroleum began after World War II.

In the 1930’s the policy of the British colonialists and the native ruling circles led to uprisings of individual tribes in the interior regions of Qatar and to protest demonstrations in big population centers. The liberation movement gained strength after World War II, culminating in demonstrations in defense of Egypt during the British, French, and Israeli aggression against Egypt in 1956. In the conditions of extreme backwardness of social and economic relations, the main forces of the national liberation movement in Qatar were the urban poor, small traders and artisans, former slaves (slavery was officially abolished only in 1952), the poorer sections of the tribes, and immigrants who had come to work in the petroleum fields. In 1960 mass popular demonstrations took place in the capital of Qatar; Emir Al ibn Abdullah ibn Kasem al-Thani, who pursued a reactionary despotic policy, was deposed and Sheikh Ahmad ibn Ali al-Thani became the ruler of Qatar; in February 1972 he was replaced by Khalifa bin Hammad al-Thani. The middle of 1963 saw a general strike of blue-collar and white-collar workers, who demanded equality of the whole population before the law, the removal of foreigners from government posts, agrarian reforms, and the democratization of the regime. The first petroleum workers’ trade union was established in 1966, and political organizations arose in the 1960’s, demanding the strengthening of relations with other countries of the Arab East.

In view of the growing liberation and democratic movement, the ruling elite of Qatar began implementing some reforms, such as setting up a public health and education system. Qatar came out in support of Arab solidarity, condemned the Israeli aggression against the Arab countries in 1967, and allocated funds for the aid of Palestinian Arabs. In 1968, Qatar, Bahrain, and the principalities of Trucial Oman attempted to set up the Federation of Persian Gulf Emirates.

A provisional constitution of Qatar was adopted on Apr. 2, 1970, and the first Qatari government of ten ministers, seven of them of the Thani family, was formed on May 29, 1970. On Sept. 1, 1971, Qatar was proclaimed an independent state. At the same time, it concluded a new friendship treaty with Great Britain, providing for the maintenance of “traditional relations” between Qatar and that country. In September 1971, Qatar became a member of the UN and the Arab League. Most countries have recognized Qatar; the USSR did so on Sept. 8, 1971.


Press, radio, and television. The press of Qatar in 1974 was represented by the English-language weekly Gulf News founded in 1970 and the Arabic-language weekly Al Uruba founded in 1969, both published in Doha, and the Arabic-language monthly magazine Al Doha. Radio and television broadcasting is run by the government. The radio broadcasting service was founded in 1968, with programs in Arabic and English, and television broadcasting began in 1970. The television station is located in Doha.

Economy. Qatar is economically underdeveloped. The traditional occupation of the population is agriculture, in which feudal relations coexist with clan survivals. In the 1950’s and 1960’s the petroleum-extracting industry, which is controlled by foreign capital, became the main branch of the economy. The prospecting and exportation of petroleum resources have been conducted by the Anglo-French-American-Dutch company Qatar Petroleum (on land), the Anglo-Dutch company Shell of Qatar (in the shelf), and the Japanese company Qatar Oil (since 1971); a state petroleum company was established in April 1972. Petroleum extraction reached 20.5 million tons in 1971. Royalties paid by the petroleum monopolies are the source of most of the national income and of the receipts of the budget. Oil profits amounted to about 70 million pounds sterling in 1971. Crude oil is exported abroad through the Umm Said port, where it arrives along a pipeline from Dukhan. An oil refinery in Umm Said refines some of the oil for domestic consumption. Natural gas, extracted in small amounts, is used as fuel by local electric power plants (which had a capacity of 75, 000 kW in 1971), desalinization installations, and a cement plant. A liquified gas plant with a capacity of 750, 000 tons of gas per year and a flour milling plant are under construction (1973).

Manufacturing is insignificant, and consumer goods are produced by small handicraft enterprises. In 1969 a cement plant (100, 000 tons of cement a year then, and up to 200, 000 tons after the expansion) was built near Doha. An artificial fertilizer plant was built in late 1971, and a flour milling plant was under construction in 1973. Agriculture is poorly developed; the oases are sites of cultivation of date palms, millet, maize, and especially vegetables, and camel raising is the main occupation in the desert. Fishing and pearl gathering are practiced along the coast. In 1970–71 more than 500 tons of shrimps and 100 tons of fish were caught. There are no railroads. Qatar has more than 1,000 km of paved roads (1971) and 11,000 automobiles (1970). The main ports are Doha and Umm Said, and Ziqrit is a local port without mooring lines. Doha has an international airport.

Qatar exports mainly crude oil (primarily to Western Europe, by foreign companies), and small amounts of cement, pearls, dried fish, shrimps, and dates. It imports food products, primarily rice, fabrics, equipment, and machines, mainly from Great Britain, Japan, the USA, and the Federal Republic of Germany. The monetary unit is a Qatar-Dubayy riyal.


Public health. There are no demographic statistics in Qatar. Infectious and parasitic diseases predominate. The population enjoys free medical care. In 1970 there were five hospital institutions with 600 hospital beds, or 4.6 beds per thousand population. Outpatient service is provided by four dispensaries in rural areas and by private practitioners in cities. There were 54 doctors, or one doctor per 2, 400 population, and 190 intermediate-level medical personnel. Doctors are trained abroad and intermediate-level personnel take courses of the World Health Organization at the state hospitals. In 1970 public health expenditures constituted only about 5 percent of the state budget.

Education. Until 1952 there were no state general education schools. Children were taught elementary arithmetic, reading, and writing in mosques. The overwhelming majority of the population is illiterate. Education in the schools is sexually segregated; it has been free since 1956 and is based on English programs and textbooks. The public education system is composed of a six-year elementary school, a three-year intermediate school, and a three-year secondary school, which is divided into general education and vocational sections; there are also religious secondary schools. Three-year technical and commercial schools provide vocational and technical training. In the 1969–70 academic year there were 13, 700 students in 78 elementary schools, 2, 200 students in three intermediate schools, and 1, 400 students in secondary general education and vocational and technical schools. In 1970 more than 400 Qatari students studied at higher schools in the Arab countries, Great Britain, and the USA.



Strany Aravii. Moscow, 1964.
Noveishaia istoriia arabskikh stran. Moscow, 1968.
Bodianskii, V., O. Gerasimov, and L. Medvedko. Kniazhestva Persidskogo zaliva. Moscow, 1970.
Al-Dabbag, M. M. Katar-madikha va khadirukha (Qatar—Its Past and Present). Beirut, 1961.
Qatar Progress. [Series 1] 1962.
Qatar. [Series 1] 1968.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Official name: State of Qatar

Capital city: Doha

Internet country code: .qa

Flag description: Maroon with a broad white serrated band (nine white points) on the hoist side

National anthem: “Swearing by God who erected the sky” (first line in English translation)

Geographical description: Middle East, peninsula bordering the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia

Total area: 4,427 sq. mi. (11,437 sq. km.)

Climate: Arid; mild, pleasant winters; very hot, humid summers

Nationality: noun: Qatari(s); adjective: Qatari

Population: 907,229 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: Arab 40%, Indian 18%, Pakistani 18%, Iranian 10%, other 14%

Languages spoken: Arabic (official), English commonly used as a second language

Religions: Muslim 77.5%, Christian 8.5%, other 14%

Legal Holidays:

National DayDec 18
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


, Katar
a state in E Arabia, occupying a peninsula in the Persian Gulf: under Persian rule until the 19th century; became a British protectorate in 1916; declared independence in 1971; exports petroleum and natural gas. Official language: Arabic. Official religion: (Sunni) Muslim. Currency: riyal. Capital: Doha. Pop.: 619 000 (2004 est.). Area: about 11 000 sq. km (4250 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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