Ruled by the Al Thani family since the mid-1800s, Qatar transformed itself from a poor British protectorate noted mainly for pearling into an independent state with significant oil and natural gas revenues. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Qatari economy was crippled by a continuous siphoning off of petroleum revenues by the Amir, who had ruled the country since 1972. His son, the current Amir HAMAD bin Khalifa Al Thani, overthrew the father in a bloodless coup in 1995. In short order, HAMAD oversaw the creation of the pan-Arab satellite news network Al-Jazeera and Qatar's pursuit of a leadership role in mediating regional conflicts. In the 2000s, Qatar resolved its longstanding border disputes with both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. As of 2007, oil and natural gas revenues had enabled Qatar to attain the highest per capita income in the world. Qatar has not experienced domestic unrest or violence like that seen in other Near Eastern and North African countries in 2010-11, due in part to its immense wealth. Since the outbreak of regional unrest, however, Doha has prided itself on its support for many of these popular revolutions, particularly in Libya and Syria. In mid-2013, HAMAD transferred power to his 33 year-old son, TAMIM bin Hamad - a peaceful abdication rare in the history of Arab Gulf states. TAMIM has prioritized improving the domestic welfare of Qataris, including establishing advanced healthcare and education systems and expanding the country's infrastructure in anticipation of Doha's hosting of the 2022 World Cup.
unicameral Advisory Council or Majlis al-Shura (45 seats; 15 members appointed; 30 members to be elected by popular vote beginning mid- or late 2013, per the 2003 constitutional referendum)
note:the Advisory Council has limited legislative authority to draft and approve laws, but the Amir has final say on all matters; Qatar's first legislative elections were expected to be held in 2013, but HAMAD postponed them in a final legislative act prior to handing over power to TAMIN; there is currently no date set for Advisory Council elections; in principle the public would elect 30 members and the Amir would appoint 15; the Advisory Council would have authority to approve the national budget, hold ministers accountable through no-confidence votes, and propose legislation; Qatar in May 2011 held nationwide elections for the 29-member Central Municipal Council (CMC) - first elected in 1999 - which has limited consultative authority aimed at improving municipal services
highest court(s): Court of Cassation (consists of the court president and several judges); Supreme Constitutional Court (consists of the chief justice and 6 members)
note - the Supreme Constitutional Court and the Judicial Supreme Council were established in 1999
judge selection and term of office:
Cassation Court judges nominated by the Judicial Supreme Council, a 9-member independent body consisting of judiciary heads appointed by the monarch; judges appointed for 3-year renewable terms; Supreme Constitutional Court members nominated by the Judicial Supreme Council and appointed by the monarch; term of appointment NA
Courts of Appeal; Courts of First Instance; Sharia Courts; Courts of Justice
maroon with a broad white serrated band (nine white points) on the hoist side; maroon represents the blood shed in Qatari wars, white stands for peace; the nine-pointed serrated edge signifies Qatar as the ninth member of the "reconciled emirates" in the wake of the Qatari-British treaty of 1916
note:the other eight emirates are the seven that compose the UAE and Bahrain; according to some sources, the dominant color was formerly red, but this darkened to maroon upon exposure to the sun and the new shade was eventually adopted
Qatar has prospered in the last several years with continued high real GDP growth. Throughout the financial crisis Qatari authorities sought to protect the local banking sector, with direct investments into domestic banks. GDP is driven largely by changes in oil prices and by investment in the energy sector. Economic policy is focused on developing Qatar's nonassociated natural gas reserves and increasing private and foreign investment in non-energy sectors, but oil and gas still account for more than 50% of GDP, roughly 85% of export earnings, and 50% of government revenues. Oil and gas have made Qatar the world's highest per-capita income country and the country with the lowest unemployment. Proved oil reserves in excess of 25 billion barrels should enable continued output at current levels for about 57 years. Qatar's proved reserves of natural gas exceed 25 trillion cubic meters, about 13% of the world total and third largest in the world. Qatar's successful 2022 World Cup bid is accelerating large-scale infrastructure projects such as Qatar's metro system, light rail system, the construction of a new port, roads, stadiums and related sporting infrastructure. The new Hamad International Airport is expected to open in mid-2014 with an annual passenger capacity of 24 million on initial opening and 50 million when complete.
general assessment: modern system centered in Doha
combined fixed and mobile-cellular telephone subscribership exceeds 130 telephones per 100 persons
country code - 974; landing point for the Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG) submarine cable network that provides links to Asia, Middle East, Europe, and the US; tropospheric scatter to Bahrain; microwave radio relay to Saudi Arabia and the UAE; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean) and 1 Arabsat (2011)
TV and radio broadcast licensing and access to local media markets are state controlled; home of the satellite TV channel Al-Jazeera, which was originally owned and financed by the Qatari government, but has evolved to independent corporate status; Al-Jazeera claims editorial independence in broadcasting; local radio transmissions include state, private, and international broadcasters on FM frequencies in Doha; in August 2013, Qatar's satellite company Es'hailSat launched its first communications satellite Es'hail 1 (manufactured in the US), which entered commercial service in December 2013 to provide improved television broadcasting capability and expand availability of voice and internet; Es'hailSat released a request for proposals in March 2014 for its second satellite to launch in 2016 (2014)