History of Qatar
Evidence of early civilisation in Qatar stretches back several thousands years, with pottery shards dating from around BC 2,500 having been found at more than one location. Qatar's relationship with the ancient Dilmun civilisation is to further study. In the 5th century BC, the Greek historian Herodotus referred to the original seafaring inhabitants of Qatar. Qatar was famed for its weaving and embroidery , especially its cloaks.
In modern term Qatar gained independence on September 3, 1971, having had a protection treaty with Britain since the early part of the twentieth century. His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, The Father Emir who was born in 1950, is the eighth member of the family to rule the country.
H.H. Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Father Emir of the State has assumed power on June 27, 1995 after eighteen years as Heir Apparent and Defence Minister, a period during which he became increasingly involved in the running of the State affairs.
Political History of Qatar
Qatar has enjoyed political stability and economic prosperity since independence in 1971 and is currently evolving into and modern State. H.H. the father Emir, who assumed power in 1995, abolished censorship by disbanding the information Ministry in 1996. The new freedoms were further enhanced with the establishment of an independent Arab satellite news channel called Al-Jazeera Satellite Channel, the first of its kind in the Arab World. The Advisory Council, invited representatives from the press and the Ministry of Justice to help draft a press and publications law that would further cement the media's newly gained freedoms.
A British protectorate until 1971, Qatar enacted a provisional constitution in 1972, which is an amended version of the 1970 constitution.
The move towards a modern society included holding municipal elections in 1999 where men and women were both voters and candidates - a first in the Arabian Gulf. With the election of the Municipal Council, H.H. the Father Emir also promised to hold legislative elections in his inaugural speech to the committee set up to draft the country's first permanent constitution. Addressing the committee. H.H. the Father Emir expressed commitment to fulfilling "aspirations.. to broaden the base of popular participation through the setting up of an elected house of deputies."
The evolution of a modern society in Qatar extends to several fields, including health and educational services and the economy. As a committed member of the World Trade Organisation and international financing organisations, Qatar has completed its integration in the international free trade economic order.
With a distinguished banking system and no restrictions on the movement of capitals from the country, the whole of Qatar represent a free economic zone. New laws have been enacted to encourage foreign investors and to protect intellectual property rights. The Doha Securities Market started operating in 1997 and Qatar Tele-communications was transformed in to a joint stock company in 1999 as part of the country's privatisation drive. Largely dependent on oil, Qatar has also embarked on a diversification plan with the establishment of the Industrial Development Bank in 1997. The Leadership of the Country has actively and successfully utilised the country's vast gas reserves, the third largest in the world following Russia and Iran.
Qatar has also positioned itself as a stage for solving international disputes by initiating several mediation efforts in regional and international disputes. The international media routinely refers to Qatar as a "mediator" Qatar's international standing has also been highlighted with its hosting of several regional and international events including the Middle East and North Africa Economic Conference in 1997 and the 9th Islamic Summit Conference held in Doha in November 2000.
The State of Qatar
The oil policy followed by the State aims at supporting and enhancing the production capabilities of oil and gas and expanding industrial projects that depend on these resources so as to diversify the sources of income and establish an appropriate economic base.
In spite of the international economic developments, specially those related to supply and demand, which affected the oil sector, the State maintained its oil production objectives and meets the requirements of the overall development plans through oil exploration and oil field development.
Qatar has realised during the second half of 1999 1,8 billion US$ in oil revenues in view of recovery of oil prices in the international markets. The average daily oil production reached 675 thousand barrels in 1998. The average daily oil exports reached 461 thousand barrels in 1997 production amounted to 2,552 thousand metric tons in 1997, while the local consumption amounted to 971, 9 thousand metric tons in the same year.
The offshore gas field which was discovered in 1971 is situated in the North East of the Qatar Peninsula at a water depth of 15-70 meters, and covers an area of 6 thousand square kilometres which is equal to half of the land of the State. This field is believed to be the largest natural gas reserve in the world whereas its total reserves amount to more than 500 trillion cubic feet, while its recoverable reserves amount to 380 trillion cubic feet. It is also considered to be the largest single non-associated natural gas field in the world, making Qatar one of the world five countries with the biggest gas reserves.
In view of the large reserves of this field and the qualities of gas as a clean and safe source of energy to be depended upon for a very long time, the Qatar Gas and Petroleum Company has worked out a strategic plan to develop the field in specific phases and optimise the exporting
The average daily output of gas reached 1,482 million cubic feet in 1998, of which 691 million cubic feet are associated gas and 789 million cubic feet are non-associated.
Diplomatic Relations Qatar maintains diplomatic ties with the majority of United Nation's Members through resident and non-resident representation. The State of Qatar has maintained diplomatic relations with nearly all Asian countries and regions represented by the embassies, consulates, permanent missions and representation offices of the Country.
Nature in Qatar Most of the wildlife indigenous to Qatar is typical of a desert environment, and consists of insects such as grasshoppers, crickets, scorpions and praying mantis. Lizards and geckos are common features of the country; as are small nocturnal mammals, such as desert hares and sand rats.
In earlier times, herds of Arabian Oryx roamed the countryside, using the natural wells and oases as breeding and settling points. Sadly, this magnificent creature is now only to be found in captivity.
The government has embarked upon a stringent Oryx breeding and conservation programme, with notable results.
Qatar is an excellent place for observing bird life, especially during the migratory months in spring and autumn. Throughout the year, sparrows, parakeets, gulls, cormorants and other sea birds can be found, but the population is significantly augmented by visiting species, taking advantage of the many fine trees and gardens that are cultivated in the towns to rest for a few days during their long journeys.
The best places for observing bird life are to be found just south of Doha, an area of effluent natural ponds, and around the Messaieed Sewage Works. There is a certain amount of marine life in Qatar's coastal waters, although this is more limited than one might expect, due to the shallowness of the waters and the high degree of salinity.
Crabs, lobsters and the famous Gulf Shrimp are common features of the coasts, as, less attractively, are jellyfish. In the deeper waters further offshore can be found hammour (grouper) - the most popular edible fish in the region -, channad, snapper, tuna and certain varieties of shark.
Culture of Qatar
Volumes could be written about traditional Arab culture, as practised in the Gulf region (and, indeed, have been); we, however, are only able to give a glimpse of the major features.
Gulf society is primarily tribal. Tribes are, in effect, extended families, and the family names that always in-corporate "Bin" (or son of) reflect this. Families are often named after a prominent leader from past times, for example Al-Mahmoud, or indeed Al-Thani. Individual male members of a tribe always carry their father's name, hence a typical person may be called Mohammed Bin Ahmed Al-Kuwari (Mohammed, Son of Ahmed from the Al-Kuwari Family). Women are known as daughter of, hence Mariam Bint Ahmed Al-Kuwari (Mariam, daughter of Ahmed Al-Kuwari). Tribes are divided into clans and then into households. The latter include groups of single families. The concepts of family and of honour are very important in Arab culture and society. The family will usually band together on principle over issues of conflict.
Unlike in Western society, it is deemed preferable to marry within your tribe and to find a spouse who is as closely related as possible, although naturally siblings may not marry.
Marriage is a family and business matter, and most marriages are arranged. In the past, girls as young as fourteen could be married, but the tendency in recent years has been to wait until the girls are older, especially if she is studying. Qatari weddings are an elaborate, ritualistic affair, lasting several days and involving a great deal of ceremony, most of which is conducted separately by women and men.
The official religion of Qatar is Islam, and the vast majority of Qatari's are Sunni Moslems. The country adopted Islam without any controversy in the 7th century and has remained devoted to the faith ever since.
There are five main pillars or tenets of the Islamic faith, namely: