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Qatar, officially the State of Qatar, is a country in Western Asia. It occupies the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and shares its sole land border with neighbouring Gulf Cooperation Council monarchy Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its territory surrounded by the Persian Gulf. The Gulf of Bahrain, an inlet of the Persian Gulf, separates Qatar from nearby Bahrain. The capital is Doha, home to over 80% of the nation's population.
In early 2017, Qatar's total population was 2.6 million: 313,000 Qatari citizens and 2.3 million expatriates. Its official religion is Islam. In terms of income, the country has the fourth-highest GDP (PPP) per capita in the world, and the sixth-highest GNI per capita (Atlas method). Qatar is classified by the United Nations as a country of very high human development, having the third-highest HDI in the Arab world. It is a high-income economy, backed by the world's third-largest natural gas reserves and oil reserves. Qatar is the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, and the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gasses per capita.
Qatar has been ruled by the House of Thani since Mohammed bin Thani signed a treaty with the British in 1868 that recognised its separate status. Following Ottoman rule, Qatar became a British protectorate in the early 20th century until gaining independence in 1971. The hereditary emir of Qatar rules as an autocrat (currently, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani) and holds all executive and legislative authority, as well as controlling the judiciary system. He appoints the prime minister and cabinet.
In the 21st century, Qatar emerged as a significant power in the Arab world through its resource-wealth, as well as its globally expanding media group, Al Jazeera Media Network, and reportedly supporting several rebel groups financially during the Arab Spring. For its size, Qatar wields disproportionate influence in the world, and has been identified as a middle power. The 2022 FIFA World Cup will be held in Qatar, making it the first Muslim and Arab country to host the event.The 2030 Asian Games will also be held in Qatar.
Doha is the capital and most populous city of Qatar. It has a population of 2,382,000 (2018). The city is located on the coast of the Persian gulf in the east of the country, north of Al Wakrah and south of Al Khor. It is Qatar's fastest growing city, with over 80% of the nation's population living in Doha or its surrounding suburbs. It is the political and economic center of the country.
Doha was founded in the 1820s as an offshoot of Al Bidda. It was officially declared as the country's capital in 1971, when Qatar gained independence from being a British protectorate. As the commercial capital of Qatar and one of the emergent financial centers in the Middle East, Doha is considered a beta-level global city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network. Doha accommodates Education City, an area devoted to research and education, and Hamad Medical City, an administrative area of medical care. It also includes Doha Sports City, or Aspire Zone, an international sports destination that includes Khalifa International Stadium, a stadium for the 2022 FIFA World Cup; Hamad Aquatic Centre; and the Aspire Dome.
The city was host to the first ministerial-level meeting of the Doha Development Round of World Trade Organization negotiations. It was also selected as host city of a number of sporting events, including the 2006 Asian Games, the 2011 Pan Arab Games and most of the games at the 2011 AFC Asian Cup. In December 2011, the World Petroleum Council held the 20th World Petroleum Conference in Doha.Additionally, the city hosted the 2012 UNFCCC Climate Negotiations and is set to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The city also hosted the 140th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly in April 2019.
According to the Ministry of Municipality and Environment, the name "Doha" originated from the Arabic term dohat, meaning "roundness"—a reference to the rounded bays surrounding the area's coastline.
David Seaton, a British political resident in Muscat, wrote the first English record of Al Bidda in 1801. He refers to the town as 'Bedih' and describes the geography and defensive structures in the area. He stated that the town had recently been settled by the Sudan tribe (singular Al-Suwaidi), whom he considered to be pirates. Seaton attempted to bombard the town with his warship, but returned to Muscat upon finding that the waters were too shallow to position his warship within striking distance.
Guttur – Or Ul Budee [Al‐Bidda], once a considerable town, is protected by two square Ghurries [forts] near the seashore; but containing no freshwater they are incapable of defense except against sudden incursions of Bedouins, another Ghurry is situated two miles inland and has fresh water with it. This could contain two hundred men. There are remaining at Ul Budee about 250 men, but the original inhabitants, who may be expected to return from Bahrein, will augment them to 900 or 1,000 men, and if the Doasir tribe, who frequent the place as divers, again settle in it, from 600 to 800 men.
The same year, an agreement known as the General Maritime Treaty was signed between the East India Company and the sheikhs of several Persian Gulf settlements (some of which were later known as the Trucial Coast). It acknowledged British authority in the Persian Gulf and sought to end piracy and the slave trade. Bahrain became a party to the treaty, and it was assumed that Qatar, perceived as a dependency of Bahrain by the British, was also a party to it. Qatar, however, was not asked to fly the prescribed Trucial flag. As punishment for alleged piracy committed by the inhabitants of Al Bidda and breach of the treaty, an East India Company vessel bombarded the town in 1821. They razed the town, forcing between 300 and 400 natives to flee and temporarily take shelter on the islands between Qatar and the Trucial Coast.
Formation of Doha
Doha was founded in the vicinity of Al Bidda sometime during the 1820s. In January 1823, political resident John MacLeod visited Al Bidda to meet with the ruler and initial founder of Doha, Buhur bin Jubrun, who was also the chief of the Al-Buainain tribe. MacLeod noted that Al Bidda was the only substantial trading port in the peninsula during this time. Following the founding of Doha, written records often conflated Al Bidda and Doha due to the extremely close proximity of the two settlements. Later that year, Lt. Guy and Lt. Brucks mapped and wrote a description of the two settlements. Despite being mapped as two separate entities, they were referred to under the collective name of Al Bidda in the written description.
In 1828, Mohammed bin Khamis, a prominent member of the Al-Buainain tribe and successor of Buhur bin Jubrun as chief of Al Bidda, was embroiled in controversy. He had murdered a native of Bahrain, prompting the Al Khalifa sheikh to imprison him. In response, the Al-Buainain tribe revolted, provoking the Al Khalifa to destroy the tribe's fort and evict them to Fuwayrit and Ar Ru'ays. This incident allowed the Al Khalifa additional jurisdiction over the town. With essentially no effective ruler, Al Bidda and Doha became a sanctuary for pirates and outlaws.
Arrival of the House of Al Thani
The Al Thani family migrated to Doha from Fuwayrit shortly after Bin Tarif's death in 1847 under the leadership of Mohammed bin Thani. In the proceeding years, the Al Thani family assumed control of the town. At various times, they swapped allegiances between the two prevailing powers in the area: the Al Khalifa of Bahrain and the Bin Saudis.
In 1867, many ships and troops were sent from Bahrain to assault the towns Al Wakrah and Doha over a series of disputes. Abu Dhabi joined on Bahrain's behalf due to the perception that Al Wakrah served as a refuge for fugitives from Oman. Later that year, the combined forces sacked the two Qatari towns with around 2,700 men in what would come to be known as the Qatari–Bahraini War. A British record later stated "that the towns of Doha and Wakrah were, at the end of 1867 temporarily blotted out of existence, the houses being dismantled and the inhabitants deported".
The joint Bahraini-Abu Dhabi incursion and subsequent Qatari counterattack prompted the British political agent, Colonel Lewis Pelly, to impose a settlement in 1868. Pelly's mission to Bahrain and Qatar and the peace treaty that resulted were milestones in Qatar's history. It implicitly recognized Qatar as a distinct entity independent from Bahrain and explicitly acknowledged the position of Mohammed bin Thani as an important representative of the peninsula's tribes.
In December 1871, the Ottomans established a presence in the country with 100 of their troops occupying the Musallam fort in Doha. This was accepted by Mohammad bin Thani's son, Jassim Al Thani, who wished to protect Doha from Saudi incursions. The Ottoman commander, Major Ömer Bey, compiled a report on Al Bidda in January 1872, stating that it was an "administrative centre" with around 1,000 houses and 4,000 inhabitants.
Disagreement over tribute and interference in internal affairs arose, eventually leading to the Battle of Al Wajbah in March 1893. Al Bidda fort served as the final point of retreat for Ottoman troops. While they were garrisoned in the fort, their corvette fired indiscriminately at the townspeople, killing a number of civilians. The Ottomans eventually surrendered after Jassim Al Thani's troops cut off the town's water supply. An Ottoman report compiled the same year reported that Al Bidda and Doha had a combined population of 6,000 inhabitants, jointly referring to both towns by the name of 'Katar'. Doha was classified as the eastern section of Katar. The Ottomans held a passive role in Qatar's politics from the 1890s onward until fully relinquishing control during the beginning of the first World War.
Pearling had come to play a pivotal commercial role in Doha by the 20th century. The population increased to around 12,000 inhabitants in the first half of the 20th century due to the flourishing pearl trade. A British political resident noted that should the supply of pearls drop, Qatar would 'practically cease to exist'. In 1907, the city accommodated 350 pearling boats with a combined crew size of 6,300 men. By this time, the average prices of pearls had more than doubled since 1877. The pearl market collapsed that year, forcing Jassim Al Thani to sell the country's pearl harvest at half its value. The aftermath of the collapse resulted in the establishment of the country's first custom house in Doha.
Lorimer report (1908)
British administrator and historian J. G. Lorimer authored an extensive handbook for British agents in the Persian Gulf entitled Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf in 1908. In it, he gives a comprehensive account of Doha at the time:
Generally so styled at the present day, but Bedouins sometimes call it Dohat-al-Qatar, and it seems to have been formerly better known as Bida' (Anglice "Bidder"): it is the chief town of Qatar and is situated on the eastern side of that peninsula, about 63 miles south of its extremity at Ras Rakan and 45 miles north of Khor-al Odaid Harbour. Dohah stands on the south side of a deep bay at the south-western corner of a natural harbor which is about 3 miles in extent and is protected on the north-east and south-east sides by natural reefs. The entrance, less than a mile wide, is from the east between the points of the reefs; it is shallow and somewhat difficult, and vessels of more than 15 feet draught cannot pass. The soundings within the basin vary from 3 to 5 fathoms and are regular: the bottom is white mud or clay.
Townsite and quarters, — The south-eastern point of the bay are quite low but the land on the western side is stony desert 40 or 50 feet above the level of the sea. The town is built up the slope of some rising ground between these two extremes and consists of 9 Fanqs or quarters, which are given below in their order from the east to the west and north: the total frontage of the place upon the sea is nearly 2 miles.
The general appearance of Dohah is unattractive; the lanes are narrow and irregular the houses dingy and small. There are no date palms or other trees, and the only garden is a small one near the fort, kept up by the Turkish garrison.
As for Doha's population, Lorimer asserts that "the inhabitants of Dohah are estimated to amount, inclusive of the Turkish military garrison of 350 men, to about 12,000 souls". He qualified this statement with a tabulated overview of the various tribes and ethnic groups living in the town.
British protectorate (1916–1971)
In April 1913, the Ottomans agreed to a British request that they withdraw all their troops from Qatar. Ottoman presence in the peninsula ceased, when in August 1915, the Ottoman fort in Al Bidda was evacuated shortly after the start of World War I. One year later, Qatar agreed to be a British protectorate with Doha as its official capital.
Buildings at the time were simple dwellings of one or two rooms, built from mud, stone and coral. Oil concessions in the 1920s and 1930s, and subsequent oil drilling in 1939, heralded the beginning of slow economic and social progress in the country. However, revenues were somewhat diminished due to the devaluation of pearl trade in the Persian Gulf brought on by the introduction of the cultured pearl and the Great Depression. The collapse of the pearl trade caused a significant population drop throughout the entire country. It was not until the 1950s and 1960s that the country saw significant monetary returns from oil drilling.
Qatar was not long in exploiting the new-found wealth from oil concessions, and slum areas were quickly razed to be replaced by more modern buildings. The first formal boys' school was established in Doha in 1952, followed three years later by the establishment of a girls' school. Historically, Doha had been a commercial port of local significance. However, the shallow water of the bay prevented bigger ships from entering the port until the 1970s, when its deep-water port was completed. Further changes followed with extensive land reclamation, which led to the development of the crescent-shaped bay. From the 1950s to 1970s, the population of Doha grew from around 14,000 inhabitants to over 83,000, with foreign immigrants constituting about two-thirds of the overall population.
Qatar officially declared its independence in 1971, with Doha as its capital city. In 1973, the University of Qatar was opened by emiri decree, and in 1975 the Qatar National Museum opened in what was originally the ruler's palace. During the 1970s, all old neighborhoods in Doha were razed and the inhabitants moved to new suburban developments, such as Al Rayyan, Madinat Khalifa and Al Gharafa. The metropolitan area's population grew from 89,000 in the 1970s to over 434,000 in 1997. Additionally, land policies resulted in the total land area increasing to over 7,100 hectares (about 17,000 acres) by 1995, an increase from 130 hectares in the middle of the 20th century.
In 1983, a hotel and conference center was developed at the north end of the Corniche. The 15-storey Sheraton hotel structure in this center would serve as the tallest structure in Doha until the 1990s. In 1993, the Qatar Open became the first major sports event to be hosted in the city. Two years later, Qatar stepped in to host the FIFA World Youth Championship, with all the matches being played in Doha-based stadiums.
The Al Jazeera Arabic news channel began broadcasting from Doha in 1996. In the late 1990s, the government planned the construction of Education City, a 2,500 hectare Doha-based complex mainly for educational institutes. Since the start of the 21st century, Doha attained significant media attention due to the hosting of several global events and the inauguration of a number of architectural mega-projects. One of the largest projects launched by the government was The Pearl-Qatar, an artificial island off the coast of West Bay, which launched its first district in 2004. In 2006, Doha was selected to host the Asian Games, leading to the development of a 250-hectare sporting complex known as Aspire Zone. During this time, new cultural attractions were constructed in the city, with older ones being restored. In 2006, the government launched a restoration program to preserve Souq Waqif's architectural and historical identity. Parts constructed after the 1950s were demolished whereas older structures were refurbished. The restoration was completed in 2008. Katara Cultural Village was opened in the city in 2010 and has hosted the Doha Tribeca Film Festival since then.
The main outcome of the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 2013 was the Trade Facilitation Agreement. The agreement aims to make it easier and cheaper to import and export by improving customs procedures and making rules more transparent. Reducing global trade costs by 1% would increase worldwide income by more than USD 40 billion, 65% of which would go to developing countries. The gains from the Trade Facilitation Agreement are expected to be distributed among all countries and regions, with developing landlocked countries benefiting the most.
In Bali, WTO members also agreed on a series of Doha agriculture and development issues.
Doha is located on the central-east portion of Qatar, bordered by the Persian Gulf on its coast. Its elevation is 10 m (33 ft). Doha is highly urbanized. Land reclamation off the coast has added 400 hectares of land and 30 km of coastline. Half of the 22 km² of surface area which Hamad International Airport was constructed on was reclaimed land. The geology of Doha is primarily composed of weathered unconformity on the top of the Eocene period Dammam Formation, forming dolomitic limestone.
The Pearl is an artificial island in Doha with a surface area of nearly 400 ha (1,000 acres). The total project has been estimated to cost $15 billion upon completion. Other islands off Doha's coast include Palm Tree Island, Shrao's Island, Al Safliya Island, and Alia Island.
In a 2010 survey of Doha's coastal waters conducted by the Qatar Statistics Authority, it was found that its maximum depth was 7.5 meters (25 ft) and minimum depth was 2 meters (6 ft 7 in). Furthermore, the waters had an average pH of 7.83, a salinity of 49.0 psu, an average temperature of 22.7 °C and 5.5 mg/L of dissolved oxygen.
Doha has a hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWh) with long, extremely hot summers and short, warm winters. The average high temperatures between May and September surpass 38 °C (100 °F) and often approach 45 °C (113 °F). Humidity is usually the lowest in May and June. Dewpoints can surpass 30 °C (86 °F) in the summer. Throughout the summer, the city averages almost no precipitation, and less than 20 mm (0.79 in) during other months. Rainfall is scarce, at a total of 75 mm (2.95 in) per year, falling on isolated days mostly between October to March. The winter's days are relativity warm while the sun is up and cool during the night. The temperature rarely drops below 7 °C (45 °F).
A significant portion of Qatar's population resides within the confines of Doha and its metropolitan area.The district with the highest population density is the central area of Al Najada, which also accommodates the highest total population in the country. The population density across the greater Doha region ranges from 20,000 people per km² to 25 people per km². Doha witnessed explosive growth rates in population in the first decade of the 21st century, absorbing the majority of the thousands of people then immigrating to Qatar every month. Doha's population is around one million, with the population of the city more than doubling from 2000 to 2010.
Ethnicity and languages
The population of Doha is overwhelmingly composed of expatriates, with Qatari nationals forming a minority. The largest portion of expatriates in Qatar are from South-East and South Asian countries, mainly India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Philippines, and Bangladesh with large numbers of expatriates also coming from the Levant Arab countries, Djibouti, Somalia, North Africa, and East Asia. Doha is also home to many expatriates from Europe, North America, South Africa and Australia.
Arabic is the official language of Qatar. English is commonly used as a second language, and a rising lingua franca, especially in commerce. As there is a large expatriate population in Doha, languages such as Malayalam, Tamil, Bengali, Tagalog, Spanish, Sinhala, French, Urdu and Hindi are widely spoken.
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