Qatar is a peninsula located halfway down the west coast of the Arabian Gulf. Its territory comprises a number of islands including Halul, Sheraouh and Al-Ashat.
The total land area of Qatar is approximately 11,521 square kilometres.
The population of Qatar in 2009 is approximately 1.63 million which is more than double the 743,000 inhabitants recorded in the 2004 population census.
83% of inhabitants reside in Doha its capital city, and its main suburb Al-Rayyan. The terrain of Qatar is flat and rocky with some low-rising limestone outcrops in the Dukhan area in the west and Jabal Fiwairit in the north.
It is characterised by a variety of geographical phenomena including many coves, inlets, depressions and surface rainwater-draining basins known as riyadh (the gardens), which are found mainly in the north and central parts of the peninsula. These areas have the most fertile soil and are rich in vegetation.
Arabic is the official language in Qatar, and English is widely spoken.
Islam is the official religion of the country, and the Shariah (Islamic Law) is a main source of its legislations.
Qatar has a moderate desert climate with long hot summers and short mild winters and little rain in winter.
The official currency is the Qatari Riyal (QR), which is divided into 100 dirhams, and is fixed with the Dollar at $1 to 3.65QR.The 18th of December every year is the National day and a therefore a national holiday, It commemorates the Independence of Qatar, at the hands of Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammad Al-Thani.
Other public holidays include the Eid Al-Fitr Holiday which starts from the 28th of Ramadan until the 4th of Shawwal.
The next is the Eid Al- Adha Holiday, starting on the 9th of Thul-Hijjah until the 13th of Thul-Hijjah.
The national flag is maroon with a broad vertical white stripe at the pole, the two colours being separated with a nine-point serrated line.
The white colour reflects the internationally recognized symbol of peace.
While the maroon colour symbolizes the bloodshed during the several wars Qatar had undergone, particularly in the second half of the 19th century.
The nine-point serrated line also indicates that Qatar is the 9th member of the "reconciled Emirates" of the Arabian Gulf in the wake of concluding the Qatari-British treaty in 1916.
[This information on design and colour of Qatar flag was mentioned in the Archives of the British Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1931].
You will find Government offices generally open from: 7.30 am to 1.30 pm, while private establishments usually operate a split shift from 8 am to 12 noon, and 4 pm to 8 pm. Friday and Saturday are the weekend holidays.
NEW (MODERN) QATARr 1971. In 1974, the Qatar General Petroleum Corporation took control of all oil operations in the country and Qatar rapidly became a rich country with a modern and well-developed infrastructure.
On 27 June 1995, His Highness Sheikh Hamad ibn Khalifa Al Thani assumed power with the support of the ruling family and the Qatari people. With his accession Qatar entered a new era of modernisation and embarked on the development of a strong base for democracy.
The new era of Qatar's history, starting with the rule of H.H. Sheikh Hamad ibn Khalifa Al-Thani is characterized by many features.
One of the most notable of these changes was the wider public participation in decision making, which was confirmed by fostering Shura (democratic) practices, along with principles of freedom. Qatar also opted for election instead of appointment for public positions in a number of establishments and authorities.
Other features include nurturing the youth through developing educational techniques and curriculum to cater for the renewed requirements of society for scientifically and professionally qualified professions, providing more work opportunities for the Qatari graduates and removing all obstacles from their career life. Also, we could see the adoption of scientific planning in order to develop the economy and optimize the utilization of national resources and expatriate expertise, designating strategies, laying down long-range plans, stimulating the private sector and preparing the ground for more investments.
Archaeological discoveries, inscriptions and a collection of exquisite pottery, which were found in scattered areas in the country, have proven that the land of Qatar was populated as early as 4000 BC.
In the 5th century BC the Greek historian Herodotus referred to the seafaring Canaanites as the original inhabitants of Qatar. Further, the geographer Ptolemy showed, in his map of the Arab World, "Qattara" as believed to refer to the Qatari town of "Zubara", which has come to fame for being one of the most important trading ports in the Gulf region at the time.
With the appearance of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula, Qatar converted in the mid seventh century CE and played an important role in the spread of Islam beyond the seas when its inhabitants participated in the formation and provision of the first naval fleet, which was assembled to transport the army during the Islamic conquests. According to historical documents, Qatar became renowned for the skill of its people in weaving and cloth making as well as for the quality of its horses and camels. Some historians considered it part of the region then known as Bahrain, which covered the area from Basra in Iraq to Oman.
Under the Abbasid State, during the 8th century AH (the 14th century CE), Qatar experienced great economic prosperity and had excellent relations with the Caliphs in Baghdad as can be gleaned from the Fort (Murwab) inscriptions on the western coast of the peninsula, which bear the marks of the Abbasid architectural style.
At the beginning of the sixteenth century, Qatar fell under the influence of the Portuguese, who succeeded in establishing their control over many areas in the Arabian Gulf and controlled trade and navigation. Their small forts can still be seen today. However, in 1538 CE, the Ottomans managed to expel the Portuguese and for four centuries Qatar, like other areas in the Gulf, was under Ottoman influence. Ottoman sovereignty was mostly a formality and real power stayed in the hands of local sheikhs.
In the aftermath of the First World War, the Turkish rule in Qatar came to an end and Qatar signed a protection treaty with Britain in 1916. However, the British influence in the country was limited to supervision of some administrative matters.
Qatar remained a British protectorate until 1971 when Britain decided to withdraw from the Arabian Gulf area. Qatar then adopted a provisional constitution declaring it an independent Arab country with an official religion of Islam, using Shari’ah as the prime source of legislation and Arabic as an official language. The Al Thani family formally became the ruling dynasty. This period witnessed the arrival of a large number of workers particularly from Arab countries.
THE AL-THANI FAMILY:
In the early 18th century, Qatar was ruled by the Al-Thani family, who took their name from their ancestor, Thani, father of Sheikh Mohammad ibn Thani, who was the first Sheikh to rule over the Qatari peninsula during the mid 19th century.
The Al-Thani family was among a tribal group who settled for a long time at the "Gibrin" oasis in the southern Najd, before their arrival at Qatar during the early 18th century. It is a branch of the Bani Tamim tribe, whose descent can be traced back to Mudar ibn Nizar. Initially they settled in Zubara in the north of the peninsula, moving to Doha in the mid 19th century under the leadership of Sheikh Mohammad ibn Thani.
In 1878 Sheikh Jassim ibn Mohammad succeeded his father Sheikh Mohammad ibn Thani.
In 1913 Sheikh Abdallah ibn Jassim, came to power. It was in his time oil was first discovered in Qatar.
In 1940 Sheikh Hamad ibn Abdullah came to power and ruled Qatar until 1948.
In 1949 Sheikh Ali ibn Abdallah came to power and ruled until 1960. And in that year, Sheikh Ahmad ibn Ali ruled Qatar and his reign continued until 1972.
In 1972, Sheikh Khalifa ibn Hamad Al Thani ruled the country. On September 3rd, 1971 Qatar became independent.
In 1995 Sheikh Hamad ibn Khalifa Al Thani assumed power with the support and blessings of the ruling family and the Qatari people.
Biography of the late Sheikh Jassim ibn Mohamed Al Thani- Founder of the Modern State of Qatar (1826-1913):
Sheikh Jassim ibn Mohammed Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar and founder of the modern Qatar descended from the Tamim tribe.
He was born in 1242 A.H. corresponding to 1826 CE.
He acquired full capability in the management of the country's affairs since his youth and succeeded in guiding its policies with wisdom and steered the country during a period that witnessed major events and changes.
At the local level, he sought to turn Qatar into a single, unified and independent, entity. Under his leadership, Qatar emerged as a coherent and stable country whose tribes he assembled to ensure its future and thus consolidate its existence and borders.
He adopted a wise policy in dealing with the two major powers competing to dominate the Arabian Gulf and its territories, namely the British Empire, which had started to extend its influence through the Government of India, and the Ottoman Empire, which was seeking to retain its control of the region following the demise of the Portuguese influence in the 16th century.
In April 1871, the expedition sent by Medhat Pasha, the Ottoman governor of Baghdad, to Eastern Arabia arrived. The British influence was concentrated in areas adjacent to Qatar. Sheikh Jassim concluded that a balance had to be struck corresponding to such influence. He asked the Ottoman administration in Ahsaa to consolidate its presence, which materialized in December 1871. The Ottomans used Albidaa Fortress as the headquarters of their military garrison.
Medhet Pasha, under whose direct administration the Gulf region was placed, welcomed Sheikh Jassim's initiative and granted him the post of governor of Qatar in 1876 and the Ottoman Sultan Abdulhameed granted him a high civil rank in 1888 and promoted him to a higher one in 1893, causing tangible tension in the relations with Britain and almost continuous struggle with it thereafter.
December 18th 1878 was the turning point when Sheikh Jassim took power. It was also the inception of the modern State of Qatar, achieved as a result of Sheikh Jassim's assiduous efforts that led to gaining full recognition by both powers of Qatar's independence.
Sheikh Jassim adamantly opposed Ottoman attempts to increase Ottoman influence in Qatar through appointing administrative personnel in Alzubara, Doha, Wakra and Khor Aladaid, establishing a customs office and reinforcing the Ottoman garrison. As a result, a military confrontation followed and a crucial battle broke out with Qataris led by Sheikh Jassim. He and his troops, composed of Qatari tribes, fought bravely, inflicted defeat on the Ottoman troops and achieved victory. The site of Alwajba Battle of 25 March 1893 was 15 kilometres west of Doha. The battle was a turning point in Qatar's history.
The bravery of the political and military leadership was clear despite the larger number of Ottoman troops and their better armaments, leading the people of Qatar to stand behind the leader against his enemies' attempts to harm Qatar's independence. People's support of their leader has been engraved in the conscience of successive generations.
Sheikh Jassim's reign was characterized by security, justice and prosperity. The country underwent total revival and prosperity in all domains of life and economy in the country. This was quite clearly reflected in pearl fishing and trading. Qatar became a major exporter and trader in pearls.
Means of marine transport developed and the harbour became ready for the growth of exports, imports and distribution. The number of ships working in the fields of trade, pearl fishing and transport doubled; jobs and resources became diversified; markets expanded; the population grew and urbanization spread.
Sheikh Jassim died on 17 July 1913 ending a fruitful and memorable life. He was succeeded by his son Sheikh Abdulla ibn Jassim Al Thani.
The State of Qatar marks its National Day on 18th December each year.
This is the date when the late Sheikh Jassim ibn Mohammed Al Thani, the founder of modern State of Qatar, took power in 1878.