Thursday, June 21, 2018

State of Qatar

The State of Qatarدولة قطر  is located on the Persian Gulf in the Middle East.  Qatar is a little smaller than Connecticut.  It borders Saudi Arabia, and is across the sea from Bahrain and the UAE.  Saudi Arabia just announced a bid to build a canal on the border which will basically turn Qatar into an island nation.

Qatar is home to 2,6 million people but only 12% are Qatari citizens.  There are 2,3 million expats, mostly non-Arab, living and working in the country.  You're a Qatari citizen only if your father was a citizen.  It takes at least 20 years for a foreigner to get citizenship.

The Al Thani dynasty has ruled Qatar since 1825.  Once a part of the Ottoman Empire, it became a British protectorate and gained independence in 1971.

The country is an absolute monarchy and Islam is the official religion.  Qatar has a mixed legal system blending civil law with Sharia (Islamic law) when it comes to family and personal matters.  Political bodies and trade unions are not permitted by law.

This is not a place to be if you're gay.  Homosexuality is illegal and is punishable by fines, up to 7 years in prison or even the death penalty.  

©Test Tube News

Arabic is the official language.  With so many expats, English is a common foreign language.

Until 1966, the Indian Rupee was used as the country's currency.  It briefly spotted the Saudi Riyal before adopting the Qatar and Dubai Riyal.  In 1973 the Qatari Riyal became the official currency and it is pegged to the U.S. Dollar.

Due to having the world's third-largest natural-gas reserves and oil reserves, Qatar is a very rich country.  It has the highest per capita income in the world.

Qatar is home to the Al Jazeera television station which opened in 1996. 

Qatar Airways is the state-owned national carrier and it began operations in 1994.  Hamad International Airport opened in 2014 and is the airline's hub which provides routes to more than 150 international destinations.  In 2013 the airline joined Oneworld.  The airline is using Doha to compete with Emirates and it's Dubai base.

Qatar is probably the most open country in the Middle East when it comes to travel.  Citizens of more than 80 countries are able to visit without needing to arrange a visa in advance.
©Al Jazeera

In 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt broke diplomatic ties with Qatar.  This included closure of their seaports and airspace which makes flights in and out of Doha longer.  The countries have accused Qatar of supporting terrorism which Qatar denies.  Here are a couple of YouTube videos I found that talks about the 1-year anniversary of the blockade and the impact of the economic blockade.


©Al Jazeera

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