The Qatari Peninsula juts out 160 kilometers into the Gulf north of Saudi Arabia. It is located between 24th and 27th degrees north latitude and 50th - 52nd east longitude. Much of the country lies on a low, barren, sandy plain. To the southeast lies Khawr al Udayd, a lagoon connected to the bay by a narrow channel surrounded by sand dunes at the entrance to the Gulf. Summers in Qatar are very hot and humid, while in winter the climate, on the contrary, is mild.
Qatar, officially the State of Qatar, is a sovereign country located in Southwest Asia, occupying a small peninsula of the same name on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Its only land border is with Saudi Arabia in the south, while the rest of its territory is surrounded by the Gulf. A strait in the Gulf separates Qatar from the neighboring island of Bahrain, as well as from the joint maritime borders with the United Arab Emirates and Iran.
After Ottoman rule, Qatar was colonized by Britain in the early 20th century and gained independence in 1971. Qatar is a hereditary constitutional monarchy and its Emir is Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. The constitution was approved by an overwhelming majority (almost 98% of the vote) in a constitutional referendum. In 2013, the total population of Qatar was 1.8 million: 278,000 Qatari citizens and 1.5 million immigrants.
In 2004, Qatar was divided into seven municipalities:
- Al Khor
- Umm Salal
- Al Dayan
- Al Rayyan
- Al Wakrah
For statistical purposes, municipalities are subdivided into 98 zones (as of 2010), which in turn are subdivided into districts.
At the dawn of Common Era, the Phoenicians were entrenched in Qatar, who were soon replaced by the Iranians. Then the local tribes entered the empire of Alexander the Great and the Seleucid state for a long period. The Iranian Sassanid dynasty, one of the most powerful in the Middle East in the early Middle Ages, made repeated attempts to conquer the peninsula. In the 7th century, Qatar becomes an Islamic state and part of the Caliphate, then existed under the protection of Bahrain.
For the first time as an independent state, Qatar appears on the world map in the 11th century. Rapid economic growth, based on pearl and shrimp fishing, has led the country to attract more powerful neighbors, including the Abbasid Caliphate and Oman..
In the XIII century, civil wars began in the country, which was successfully used by the Sheikh of the Hormuz state who captured Qatar in 1320. Then, for several centuries, the peninsula lives under the rule of Bahrain. In 1510, Qatar was occupied by the Portuguese, and then a long string of wars began between Lisbon and Istanbul. As a result, the Ottomans conquered the peninsula, but at the same time give the local sheikhs broad powers.
Since the 17th century, several countries have been fighting for the territory of Qatar at once: Iran, the Ottoman Empire, Oman, Saudi State, as well as the leaders of the powerful Arab tribes. The peninsula was captured by Oman for short period, then by the House of Al Khalifa, who later ceded the reins of the Al Thani dynasty.
It was Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, who came to power in 1878, who is considered the founder of the State of Qatar. He united the tribes at war with each other. During his reign, the country received its modern shape.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, two states, the Ottoman Empire and Great Britain, fought with varying degrees of success for influence in Qatar. The British got the victory: the peninsula was under their protectorate until 1971.
During the British control, oilfields were discovered on the peninsula. Their exploration and development was carried out by a joint Anglo-French-American-Dutch company. It was the discovery of oil in the country that led to the fact that Qatar became an important region for Europe in the Middle East.
Fight for independence
The national liberation movement began to emerge in Qatar in the 1930s. At this time, the first riots and protests against the despotic rule of London's henchmen began to mature in the country.
By 1961, Great Britain was forced to partially satisfy the claims of the local population. A third of the peninsula's oilfields were transferred to the Sheikh of Qatar, and in 1966 the first trade union was launched in the country to protect the interests of oil workers.
The first underground movement, which had a serious impact on the situation in the country, appeared in 1964 and bore the name "National Unity Front ". Then, representatives of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman and the Arabian Gulf arrived in Qatar.
The pressure from the protesters forced the government to initiate democratic and social reforms, which ultimately led to the separation of Qatar from the UK as an independent state. The country received its first constitution in 1970, and independence on September 1, 1971. In 1975, the government bought out the capital of all oil producing and refining firms in Qatar.
Since then, the domestic and foreign policy of the state was carried out by the Emir and the ruling dynasty. At the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries, Qatar played an important role in the region, actively participating in the regional occasions, as well as contributing to the development of the Arab-Israeli peace process.
State policy changed in 1995. As a result of a bloodless coup, the son of the Emir, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, came to power. The new ruler largely retained the previous course, however, he organized a commission to create a constitution and created a Central Municipal Council, whose task was to improve governance at the regional level.
In 2003, a referendum was held in Qatar to adopt a permanent constitution. According to the text of the main law of the country, the Emir became a sovereign monarch, directing the work of the government – the Council of Ministers and the Advisory Council. The power of the head of state is limited by Sharia law. 96.6% of voters supported the constitution.
Qatar is a rapidly developing place of the world. Just 10 years ago, the tallest building on the territory of the state was only three floors. Today it is a business capital with huge skyscrapers, its own artificial islands, business centers, fashion boutiques and luxury villas. Recently, investors from all over the world have been actively attracted here, trying to get a plot of land, a villa, a hotel, their own restaurant or open another business.
Before registering a company in Qatar, you should know that foreign citizens are not allowed to own more than 49% of the company's property. Most should be owned by a local entrepreneur. Exceptions to this rule are enterprises registered in the free economic zone, or companies that are aimed at solving social problems of the state: agriculture, providing fresh water, vital food and medicines, as well as several other areas of activity. 100% ownership of a business by foreigners is possible only after the decision of the Ministry of Business and Trade of Qatar, and it is difficult to achieve it without influential guarantors.
In the last 2-3 years, the possibility of starting a business in Qatar for Russians within the framework of the program for the unification of cultures has become much easier.
Legislation is loyal to attracting foreign investment. A simplified taxation system operates on the territory of the country, so only one tax will have to be paid, which already makes the country attractive to investors.
Economic center in Qatar
The capital city of Qatar – Doha is undoubtedly the economic center of the state.
The early history of Doha is closely intertwined with the development of the city of Al Bidda. It is noteworthy that the development of Doha as one of the largest ports in the Gulf was facilitated by the pearl trade. Thanks to this type of business, the population of the city in the first half of the XX century increased to 12 thousand people. Already 50 years later, after the discovery of oil on the peninsula, this figure reached 83 thousand people.
The declaration of independence of Qatar in 1971 gave rise to the development of Doha. The city received the official status of the capital of an independent state and began to perform the functions of an educational, cultural and economic center of the country. Today, the population of Doha has passed the 1.3 million mark.
Modern Doha is the capital of many oil companies. It is here that the largest corporations in this industry prefer to keep their head offices.
Nevertheless, the country's authorities do their best to get away from dependence on hydrocarbons and reorient the development of the city. So, in 1998, Doha International Airport began operating in the country, which after reconstruction in 2014 was named Hamad. The renewed air harbor has been doubled.
As a result of the policy of the city leadership, its population began to grow rapidly. This led to the development of the tourism and housing sectors in Doha. For example, by 2011, there were 39 hotels under construction in the city. In 2020, more than a hundred luxury hotels are operating in the capital of Qatar.
Doha today is one of the economic centers of the Middle East, which can compete in the field of education, economy and culture with such large regional players as Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. For several years, Doha has been in the top 15 of the best metropolitan areas for doing business, and also bears the title of one of the seven cities of modern wonders of the world.
The achievements of the State of Qatar in recent decades are most often described as an economic miracle that has made a small country in the Gulf a powerful player and one of the growth leaders in the region. What seemed unthinkable a couple of generations ago is gradually becoming a familiar reality, starting from which Qatar sets even more ambitious goals.
In the IMF's global list for 2020, it was in third place in terms of GDP per capita at purchasing power parity with an indicator of $ 91,897.
With the world's third-largest natural gas reserves, Qatar's economy is largely concentrated in the gas industry, which accounts for two-thirds of GDP and nearly 80% of export earnings. In 2020, the country was the world's second largest supplier of liquefied natural gas after Australia.
At the end of 2018, Qatar even decided to withdraw from the OPEC to focus on the gas industry. The production, processing and transportation of all natural resources in Qatar is handled by the state-owned company Qatar Petroleum.
Like other monarchies in the Gulf, Qatar has suffered in recent years from falling oil prices, to which gas contracts are also tied. However, the country's economic results were significantly better than those of its neighbors.
This effect was achieved mainly due to the National Strategy of Qatar for the period up to 2030, which outlined diversification among the main priorities. This long-term plan aims to make Qatar less dependent on non-renewable resources.
As a result of these efforts, by 2020, the non-hydrocarbon sectors of Qatar's economy accounted for 62% of real GDP. Construction is experiencing a real boom in the run-up to the already mentioned 2022 World Cup. The service sector, concentrated mainly in financial services, is estimated by the World Bank to account for 46.7% of GDP, employing 44% of the active population. Flagship companies such as Qatar Airways, Ooredoo and Qatar Pharma successfully compete with leading brands in international markets. Qatar also expects to increase the share of tourism in GDP from 3.5 to 4% by 2023.
Investment in foreign assets is one of the main areas of diversification for Qatar. The headlines about acquisitions made by the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) are frequent in major global media. This sovereign wealth fund was created in 2005 to accumulate revenues from hydrocarbon exports and prepare the country for the era of clean energy sources. According to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, it is the 11th largest in the world.
However, Qatar is interested not only in major global brands, but also in attracting investments in its own economy and the development of international trade relations.
Qatar, a small but extremely wealthy state in the Persian Gulf, is trying to pursue a very balanced foreign policy on the world stage, thanks to which it has gained universal respect. It is quite natural that Qatar, as an Arab state, seeks first of all to normalize and strengthen its relations in the Arab world.
“Our foreign policy has always been based on a foundation built on the principles of peaceful coexistence, cooperation between all countries and peoples, mutual respect, strengthening common interests, strengthening international peace and security, as well as those, originating from our place in the Gulf region and our Arab-Islamic affiliation, aspirations for effective participation in solving the problems of the Arab nation and the Islamic Ummah, ” claimed the Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in one of his speeches.
Doha strives to provide its platform for dialogue between various parties to conflicts. Thus, over the past fifteen years, Qatar has acted as an intermediary between the Houthi movement "Ansar Allah" and the government of Yemen; between the Sudanese government and the Justice and Equality Movement in Darfur; between Sudan and Chad; between Djibouti and Eritrea; between Sudan and Eritrea; between the Palestinian movements Fatah and Hamas; between Lebanese parties; between the US and the Taliban. And now Qatar remains one of the main mediators in the inter-Afghan dialogue and offers its services in the dialogue between Iran and the United States, as well as between Iran and the Arab monarchies of the Gulf.
It is interesting to know that the face of Qatari politics, the official speaker of the Foreign Ministry, is a woman. Lulwa Al Khater was appointed to this post in 2017. According to her, women hold about 35% of posts in the Qatar Foreign Ministry, including the post of the country's permanent representative to the UN.