Historical Background and Achievement

Ethnicity of Qatar Residents

The Bedouin, Hadar, and Alabd.

Bedouin were the descendant from the nomads of the Arabian Peninsula. Hadar on the other hand, are those whose ancestors were settled town dwellers. While some Hadar are descendants of Bedouin, most descend from migrants from present-day Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan and which occasionally are referred to as lrani-Qataris.

The "Alabd" tribes which literally means "slaves," are the descendants of slaves brought from East Africa.

Whilst the three groups identify themselves as Qatari and their right to citizenship is not challenged, subtle socio-cultural differences among them are recognized and acknowledged.

State Establishment

Qatar Map In the 1760s, members of the Al-Khalifa of the Utub tribe migrated to Qatar from Kuwait and central Arabia and established a pearling and commercial base in Zubarah in the north. From there the Al-Khalifa expanded their territory by occupying Bahrain, which they have ruled ever since. The Al-Thani, the current ruling family were among a tribal group, which had settled for a long time at Gebrin oasis in southern Najd before they arrived in Qatar during the early 18th century. Initially they stayed in the north of the peninsula before moving to Doha in the mid 19th century under the leadership of Mohammed Bin Thani. The family of Al Thani is a branch of the Arab tribe Tamim, whose descent can be traced back to Mudar Bin Nizar. This tribe inhabited the eastern parts of the Arabian Peninsula.

The name of Al Thani is derived from that of the family's ancestor, Thani Bin Mohammed, father of Mohammed bin Thani, who was the first sheikh to rule over the Qatar peninsula during the mid 20th century. They established themselves after years of contention with the Al-Khalifa, who still held claims to the Qatar peninsula through most of the nineteenth century. In 1867, Britain recognized Mohammad bin Thani as the representative of the Qatari people. A few years later, Qasim Al-Thani (Mohammad's son) accepted the title of governor from the Ottoman Turks, who were trying to establish authority in the region. Qasim Al-Thani's defeat of the Turks in 1893 usually is recognized as a confirmation of Qatar's autonomy. In 1916, Abdullah bin Qasim Al-Thani (Qasim's son) entered an agreement with Britain that effectively established the Al-Thani as the ruling family. That agreement provided for British protection and special rights for British subjects and ensured that Britain would have a say in Qatar's foreign relations. The increase in state income from oil concessions strengthened the Al-Thani's position.

When Britain announced its intention to withdraw from the region, Qatar considered joining a federation with Bahrain and the seven Trucial States. However, agreement could not be reached on the terms of federation, and Qatar adopted a constitution declaring independence in 1971. The constitution states that the ruler will always be chosen from the Al-Thani Family and will be assisted by a Council of Ministers and a Consultative Council.

Geography and Population

Geography

Qatar is a small peninsula on the western shore of the Arabian Gulf that covers approximately 4,416 square miles (11,437 sq. kms.). The landmass forms a rectangle that local folklore describes as resembling the palm of a right hand extended in prayer. Neighboring countries include Bahrain to the northwest, Iran to the northeast, and the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to the south border.

Topography

Qatar generally consists of flat rocky surfaces. It does, however, include some hills and sand dunes which reach an altitude of 40m above sea level in the western and northern parts of the country. Qatar is characterized by a number of geographical features which are peculiar to the western side of the Arabian Gulf. These include rainwater-draining basins found mainly in the north and central areas of the country. These two areas are considered the most fertile and have attracted heavy agricultural investment.

Climate

The climate is characterized by a mild winter and a hot summer. Rainfall in the winter is slight, averaging some 80 millimeters a year. Temperatures range from 7 degrees centigrade in January to around 45 degrees at the height of summer. The weather is generally pleasant during the period from October until May. Maximum and minimum temperatures throughout the year can be seen through.

Population

By the year 1998, it has estimated to have 579,000 population and it escalated into 1.5 million in the year 2010(UN, 2010).

Most estimates agree that only about 20 percent of the population are Qatari, with the remainder being foreign workers. A total of 91.4 percent live in urban areas, mostly in the capital. Because male foreign laborers come without their families, there is an imbalance of males and females in the total population. The foreign workers, mostly from India, Nepal, Philippines and Pakistan, cannot obtain citizenship and reside in the country on temporary visas.

Currency

Qatari riyal

Currency The riyal (Arabic: ريال, ISO 4217 code: QAR) is the currency of the State of Qatar. It is divided into 100 dirham (درهم) and is abbreviated as either QR (English) or ر.ق (Arabic).

Until 1966, Qatar used the Indian rupee as currency, in the form of Gulf rupees. When India devalued the rupee in 1966, Qatar, along with the other states using the Gulf rupee, chose to introduce its own currency. Before doing so, Qatar briefly adopted the Saudi riyal, then introduced the Qatar and Dubai riyal which was the result of signing the Qatar-Dubai Currency Agreement on 21 March 1966.[1] The Saudi riyal was worth 1.065 rupees, whilst the Qatar and Dubai riyal was equal to the rupee prior to its devaluation.

Until 1973, Qatar and Dubai jointly issued the riyal. However, following Dubai's entrance into the United Arab Emirates, Qatar began issuing the Qatari riyal separate from Dubai.

Coins

In 1966, coins were introduced in the name of Qatar and Dubai for 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 dirham. In 1973, a new series of coins was introduced in the same sizes and compositions as the earlier pieces but in the name of Qatar only.

Banknotes

On September 18, 1966, the Qatar & Dubai Currency Board introduced notes for 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 riyal. These were replaced in 1973 by notes of the Qatar Monetary Agency in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 riyal. In 1996, the Qatar Central Bank (QCB) took over the issuance of paper money and continued to issue the same denominations as the Monetary Agency.

Fixed exchange rate

In March 1975, the riyal was officially pegged to the IMF's Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). In practice, it has been fixed at 1 U.S. dollar = 3.64 riyal since 1980,[2][3] which translates to approximately 1 riyal = 27.4 cents. This rate was made official in July 2001.

Language Affiliation

The official language is Arabic. English, Farsi, and Urdu are widely spoken. Arabic is closely associated with the Islamic faith; thus, its use reinforces the Islamic identity of the nation and its citizens. The Qatari dialect of Arabic is similar to the version spoken in the other Gulf States and is called Arabic. The adjective khaleeji ("of the Gulf") that is used to describe the local dialect also distinguishes citizens of the six Gulf States from north African and Levantine Arabs.

Farsi, the official language of Iran, is also widely spoken by families that trace their descent from that country. As a result of the influx of foreign workers, many other languages are commonly spoken, including English, Urdu and Hindi, Malay, and Tagalog(Philippines). While many Qataris speak more than one language, it is very rare for immigrants to learn Arabic. Interactions between Arabs and foreign workers are conducted in English or the language of the expatriate.

Culture and Tradition

Qatar Culture

Qatari culture (music, art, dress, and cuisine) is similar to that of other Arab countries of the Persian Gulf. Arab tribes from Saudi Arabia migrated to Qatar and other places in the gulf; therefore, the culture in the Persian Gulf region varies little from country to country.

Qatar explicitly uses Sharia law as the basis of its government, and the vast majority of its citizens follow Hanbali Madhhab. Hanbali (Arabic: حنبلى ) is one of the four schools (Madhhabs) of Fiqh or religious law within Sunni Islam (The other three are Hanafi, Maliki and Shafii). Sunni 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 (usul) were different, they came to different judgments on particular matters. Shi'as comprise around 10% of the Muslim population in Qatar.

Most of the people of Qatar to hold Wahhabi laws, but the accepted norms, oddly enough, are less stringent than in many neighboring countries - it is alcohol available in bars, hotels and restaurants, as there are no restrictions on the management of women's cars, their participation in public life etc. However, in public places, women should avoid unnecessary open or tight clothes and mini-skirts, and men - shorts or shirts without sleeves. Enter the mosque to non-Muslims is forbidden.

Alcohol is legal with a permit but it is not permitted to drink it in public.

Most hotels and restaurants are licensed to sell alcoholic beverages. Removal of alcohol on the street, drinking in public places, driving drunk and transportation of alcohol is punishable by law and punished harshly enough (up to imprisonment). Prices on alcohol are high. During Ramadan, alcohol is not sold.

In addition, upon entering of every houses we should always remove our shoes and follow the instructions of the owner. The meal passes without tables and chairs - guests are placed on the floor, on special mats and cushions. Treats usually very light (tea, coffee, fruit, sweets, etc.), but quite heavy (a cup will be filled permanently) and it is not taken to give - the rules of politeness is recommended to drink on a visit at least one and not more than three cups of coffee (it is not difficult, since the size of these cups is very small.) Take food left hand is not accepted. Fig take a pinch, some pasty dishes (hoummus, mutabbel), you can take a piece of bread. The guests are served in order of seniority. Among the guests are traditional Arab rule hierarchy - should not interrupt the speech, the eldest or the head of the family, should be given every consideration the owner and guests. In such cases, tourists are advised to simply mannered guests do the same.

  • Art

    Popular art forms in Qatar include printing, pottery, sculpting, lace-making, jewelry making, calligraphy, drawing, painting and in recent years, photography. These art forms are influenced by Bedouin culture and Islam. Qatar recently built a Museum of Islamic Art. The museum houses a collection of art from most Middle Eastern countries in hopes of preserving Islamic art for generations to come. The Qatar Museum Authority calls it "a museum for the world."

    1. Museum of Islamic Art
    2. Al Markhiya Art Gallery

  • Music

    The music of Qatar is highly influenced by Bedouin culture. Lyrics are typically Bedouin poetry and the music is played using Bedouing instruments. Khaliji is a type of traditional Bedouin music and one of the most popular types of music in Qatar. It is played using the Oud and Tabl drum. In addition to Khaliji being a popular form of music, there is also a popular dance that is performed to Khaliji.

    • Khaliji Music- This is an American ensemble playing Khajili music.

  • Falconry

    These birds of prey were used originally by Bedouins to hunt game, providing an important addition to their diets. In Qatar today, the tradition of falconry remains a major sporting activity during the hunting season from October to March. During the off-season, owners and falcons continue with training exercises. Its incredible eyesight allows the falcon to lock onto its prey; it can fly at speeds of over 100 kilometres per hour and dives at twice that rate. An important bond is created between owners and falcons, and the birds are treated with great care and respect.

  • National Dress

    Qatari national men wear a thobe, a long white shirt over loose pants. They also wear a loose headdress, called a gutra, in white or red and white cloth, held on with a black rope known as the agal. Qatari national women cover their head with a black headdress called a shayla, their body with a long black dress called an abayha. Some women also cover their face with a black bourga; sometimes the eyes are left uncovered.

  • Religion

    Religious Beliefs. The majority of the citizens and the ruling family are Sunni Muslims, specifically Wahhabis. There is, however, a large minority of Shi'a Muslims. Recent events such as the Iranian Revolution, the Iran-Iraq War, and alleged discrimination against Shi'a Muslims have exacerbated sectarian tensions. These divisions are rarely discussed openly.

  • Traditional Dances

    Traditional dance Dancing is the form of expression, which comes on its own on celebratory occasions. Festive season is the most likely time when you will witness folk dancers performing around the country. But most likely one will witness for dances performed by men folk. Amongst the dances – the most popular is the 'Ardha' where the dancers will be carrying the ceremonial swords. It is performed on religious holidays like Eid and on special occasions like Independence day or during the Accession Day celebrations of His Highness the Emir. It is a dance to display the unity, strength of a group and is a display of allegiance to the Emir and the society.

    The other traditional dance performed in public is 'Lewa' a dance performed purely for pleasure and commonly performed at weddings and on religious occasions.

    Amongst the women dances are 'Khammary', performed by the masked women, it involves the co-ordination of steps with the Music. It has light lyrics, often based on love poems. Other women dances are 'Sameri' and 'Ashouri', performed on celebratory occasions.

    Among the cultural traditions of Qatar is camel racing, horse racing, hunting with trained falcons and hounds Arab "Saluki". A small part of the richest people in the country can afford to keep Arabian horses, which have been long bred in this region. Unique specimens of this breed of horses are in the stables of the Emir. On special farms there are grown the racing camels, whose value reaches 250 thousand dollars. Despite the active intervention of the West, Sharia (Islamic law) is still required for citizens of the country and fully defines their culture and everyday life.

  • Business and social etiquette tips

    Qatar is a traditional country experiencing rapid social changes. It is important to Qatar to maintain its heritage and the modern appearance may mislead people into forgetting that it is still a traditional society with consequential social misunderstandings. The following tips may be useful:

    Foreign visitors are expected to dress in a style that is sensitive to the Islamic culture. Conservative clothing is recommended. Men generally wear long trousers and a shirt in public. Women's attire in public - as opposed to hotels or private clubs - should cover the shoulders, upper arms and knees. Western bathing attire is permitted at hotel and club swimming pools and beaches. Topless sunbathing is strictly forbidden.

    Seek permission before taking photographs of people and be cautious about taking photographs in public. For security reasons Government buildings, military and some industrial sites, including some internal and external parts of the airport or shopping malls, should not be photographed.

    When Arab men meet, they usually shake hands. A man does not generally shake hands with a woman. Male business associates will shake the hand of a female business associate if she extends her hand first. Some Arab men and women will shake hands with a woman. If an Arab person pulls back their hand and holds it against the heart this is a sign of greeting in preference over hand-shaking.

    Bargaining with shopkeepers is common practice especially in the souq (market). Negotiations may include the buyer requesting the 'best best price'. Insisting on a discount beyond this best price might be deemed insulting.

    Qatar prohibits the brewing and trafficking of alcohol. Drunken behavior in public or driving under the influence of alcohol is an offence punishable by a period in prison, a fine or both and cancellation of the offender's driving license. It is also illegal to transport liquor in your vehicle except from the point of sale directly to your home.

    The country also applies a zero tolerance attitude to the use and possession of illegal drugs. The import of pork is prohibited.

  • Qatar Women

    The Qatari woman exercises her full right to take her role in society and act as a vital element within the development process of the country. She has proven her ability to give and participate alongside her fellow men in all assignments and fields, and her participation has been especially enhanced by the encouragement of HH the Emir and the patronage of H.H. the wife of the Emir, Sheikha Mouza.

  • Heritage

    Qatari heritage, handed down from generation to generation, has always been an integral part of the Arab Islamic heritage of the Arabian Peninsula.

    It encompasses the features of the social fabric and the cultural peculiarity of the Arab man who has lived on this land and dealt with it and its environment in a give-and-take manner until his heritage has become a true reflection of the people's lives and their adherence to their milieu.

    Although most handicrafts and traditional industries have disappeared, some managed to survive, thanks to the support rendered by the government.

Religion

The majority of the citizens and the ruling family are Sunni Muslims, specifically Wahhabis. There is, however, a large minority of Shi'a Muslims. Recent events such as the Iranian Revolution, the Iran-Iraq War, and alleged discrimination against Shi'a Muslims have exacerbated sectarian tensions. These divisions are rarely discussed openly.

Education

Qatar is committed to respect the heritage and conservative personality of the people. It aims to enhance development of school curricula and educational systems in line with the achievements of the times, the latest technological advances and modern educational experiences.

Regular government education was introduced in 1952 with the establishment of the first primary school for boys. which had 240 students and 6 teachers. In 1956 the basis of modern educational systems were formulated to outline the three stages of school education: primary, preparatory and secondary. In the following year the regulations of school education were drafted. leading to the establishment of the first ministry of education, named at the time Wizarat Al-Marif. The first group of regular students completed their primary stage education in 1958.

Since then education continued to develop and spread to cover all populated centers throughout the country and cater for boys and girls alike. Specialized and technical schools, as well as the University of Qatar, which now comprises 7 faculties, were established.

Qatar Achievement

Standing over 40 years



Qatar's economy continues to grow and the government remains steadfast to the National Vision of 2030.

After Qatar declared its independence from British rule, the country continues to change and grow on an almost daily basis, it is remarkable to consider the differences to have come about over the past four years, never mind 40, and for those who have witnessed the times changing, the modern day Doha is different beyond recognition in most aspects.

Important aspects of Qatari history is without doubt the pearl diving trade which made up the backbone of the economy here for many years. Men would embark on diving trips that could last months at a time, making up to a hundred dives a day to grab oysters from the seabed. Most families in Qatar have been involved in pearl diving at some point in their ancestry and its significance to the country is now apparent in a variety of landmarks, none more impressive than the luxury development, The Pearl-Qatar.

Pearl diving gave way to oil and gas, and from the natural resources discovered here, the country has been able to build an economy that continues to grow at an impressive rate. Major multinational companies have established a presence in Qatar, including Shell's Pearl Gas to Liquid project at Ras Laffan, which is the largest plant of its type in the world. While business, trade and investment have played a major role in the growth of the country over the past 40 years, Qatar has also witnessed significant cultural development as well as important advances in other fields.

Undoubtedly the past 15 to 20 years have brought about the biggest changes, with the current Emir, HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, taking the decision to move to a more democratic and liberal society, yet still upholding the values and moral compass of the Qatari people. The influx of people from all over the world has made this something of a challenge at times, but looking at Qatar now, it is clear that his mission has been a success as the country continues to move towards a bright future.

The establishment of the Katara cultural village, the Qatar Foundation, the Museum of Islamic Art, the Doha Film Institute and various other organisations in recent years have produced a strong cultural upsurge which shows no signs of slowing.

The ambitions of the Qatar Museums Authority have clearly been displayed, and their future plans will offer citizens and visitors a chance to learn more about the history of the country with the opening of other museums including the Qatar National Museum, which is set to be opened in the next two years. And the country has also taken major steps in the sporting arena, establishing the Aspire Academy, hosting various major tournaments and, of course, winning the bid to host the World Cup in 2022.

Politically, Qatar has also become a significant world power, taking the decision to work as a mediator in a number of global conflicts and emerging as an important nation in terms of international affairs. While many of these achievements have come about in recent years, the country has been building towards its current success since 1971, benefiting from the foresight and vision of the leadership which has seen the country advance significantly since the Emir took over the direction of the country in 1995.

Achievement in the international community

  1. Mediation:

    As of 2011, Qatar has engaged in mediation efforts in Western Sahara, Yemen, Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict, Indonesia, Somalia, and famously in Darfur and Lebanon. In addition, Qatar has involved itself in deep negotiations between the Palestinian authorities, Hamas and Fatah. Qatar's involvement as a mediator in all of these situations may be vindicated by its lack of ties to any super-national or regional powers, and by the strategy of neutrality it has followed in order to be seen as an unbiased entity in conflicts.

  2. International Organizations and Conferences:

    1997: Qatar hosted the Middle East and North African summit, where it invited Israeli representation.

    2001: WTO ministerial meeting to further trade negotiations, commonly known as the 'Doha Round'.

    2005-2007:Held an elected seat for two years in the United Nations Security Council.

    2011: Qatar has hosted academic, religious, political and economic conferences:

    1. 11th annual Doha Forum recently brought in key thinkers, professionals of various backgrounds, and political figures from all over the world to discuss democracy, media\technology, free trade, and water security issues.
    2. Forum featured the Middle East Economic Future conference.