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Country Profile

Area: 11,435 sq km
Population: 1.7m (Qatar Statistics Authority January 2012)
Capital City: Doha (80% of the population)
People: Arab, Sunni Muslim majority. There are approximately 250,000 Qatari nationals. Other nationalities include Indian, Sri Lankan, Pakistani, Filipino, other Arab, European, North American.
Languages: Arabic (official), English (also widely-used)
Religion(s): Islam
Currency: Qatari Riyal (QR); 1 QR = 100 Dirhams
Major political parties: None
Government: Monarchy
Head of State: Emir, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani
Heir Apparent: His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani
Prime Minister and Foreign Minister: His Excellency Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al-Thani
Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Administrative Control and Transparency Authority: His Excellency Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs: His Excellency Ahmad bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud
Membership of international groups/organisations: Arab League, Gulf Co-operation Council, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, OPEC, United Nations

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Basic Economic Facts

GDP: US$127billion (2010, Qatar Statistic Authority.)
GDP per capita: US$75,000 (World Bank, 2010)
Annual Growth: 16% (2010 real growth)
Inflation: 2.1% (2011 EIU)
Major Industries: Petrochemicals, Financial Services, Construction
Major trading partners: Japan, US, UK, Singapore, South Korea, Italy, Germany, UAE, France, Saudi Arabia
Exchange rate: £1 = QR 5.96 (May 2011) US$1 = QR 3.64 (fixed)
Qatar currently produces over 800,000 barrels of oil per day and its economy depends increasingly on gas. The income from oil and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) exports accounts for an estimated 60-65% of government revenue.

Qatar has invested heavily in world class Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facilities, including a deep-water port at Ras Laffan to exploit the North Dome gas field. This field is the world’s largest non-associated gas field, holding between 14 and 16% of world reserves. At current planned rates of extraction the field will last for over two hundred years. Qatar is already the leading global supplier of LNG and in December 2010 celebrated reaching its target of 77 million tonnes of output per year. There are two national gas companies - Qatargas and RasGas. Through the South Hook LNG terminal in Wales, Qatar is capable of supplying up to 20% of the UK’s gas needs.

A significant part of Qatar’s surpluses have been invested abroad through the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) whose aim is to strengthen the country’s economy by diversifying into new areas and reducing Qatar’s reliance on hydrocarbons revenue. The QIA, headed by the Prime Minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani, has a number of subsidiaries including Qatari Diar, which was set up in 2004 to invest in real estate projects both in Qatar and abroad.

Government efforts to diversify the economy have led to the establishment of petrochemical, oil refining and fertiliser industries, as well as the growth of Doha as a regional conference centre and the establishment of Qatar Airways and the Qatar Foundation.

The Qatar Statistic Authority reported a nearly 40% year-on-year increase in nominal GDP in the third quarter of 2011, with the growth largely the result of an expansion in gas, coupled with high prevailing global oil and gas prices.

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Recent History

Qatar became an independent state in 1971. Before the discovery of vast oil and gas reserves, Qatar’s economy depended largely on the pearling industry.

Qatar’s political system is evolving from a traditional tribal system towards a more modern, democratic one. The pace of political reform, along with wider economic and social development, has accelerated since the present Emir, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, replaced his father in a bloodless coup in 1995.

Under the Emir, Qatar has experienced a notable amount of sociopolitical liberalisation, including the endorsement of women’s right to vote, drafting a new constitution and the launch of Al Jazeera, a leading Arabic and English news source which operates a website and satellite television news channel.

The Emir appointed Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, his son, as Heir Apparent in 2003 and in April 2007, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani as Prime Minister, while also continuing to act as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

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Qatar's relations with its neighbours

Qatar is a member of the Gulf Co-operation Council alongside its neighbours Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It hosted the 2007 GCC Summit in Doha.

Coverage of regional events by Al Jazeera, which is based in Doha, has strained bilateral relations with some of Qatar’s neighbours.

Qatar's relations with the international community

Qatar is active in both regional and international diplomacy. In April 2011, Qatar hosted the First Contact Group meeting on Libya, which the UK co-chaired.

Qatar has played an important role in mediating regional conflicts including in Lebanon, where it deployed peacekeepers as part of the UN Mission in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and, more recently, in Darfur, Somalia and Yemen. In 2010, Qatar mediated the Eritrea-Djibouti border dispute and more recently has played a role in the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation process. Qatar currently chairs the Arab League Committee on Syria and the Follow-Up Committee of the Arab Peace Initiative.

In March 2009 Doha hosted the Arab League Summit and assumed the rotating Chair of the Arab League from 2009-2010.

Qatar is a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council and was a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council from 2005 to 2007. It hosted the UN Financing for Development Conference in Doha in 2008.

Qatar held the Fourth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2001, launching the Doha Development Round.

In 2006 Qatar hosted the 15th Asian Games. It also hosted the 2010 World Indoor Athletics Championship, football’s 2011 Asian Cup and more recently the Arab Games in December 2011. Doha was an applicant city for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games and has recently launched a bid to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. In 2010 Qatar successfully bid to host the 2022 Football World Cup.

Doha was the Arab Capital of Culture in 2010.

Qatar's relations with the UK

Bilateral relations are strong and there is good co-operation in a number of areas; see Working with Qatar ( ( ) for more information

Cultural Relations with the UK

Qatar is investing heavily in culture and education, including through partnerships with prominent British institutions. Many Qataris come to the UK to study English and for higher education.

The Emir’s wife HH Sheikha Mozah chairs the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, which was founded in 1995 to provide specialised education to develop a future leadership cadre for Qatar and to develop Qatar as a research hub. A number of British institutions have formed partnerships with the Qatar Foundation. University College London has now opened a campus, becoming the first British university to open a campus in Qatar’s Education City.

British Council, Qatar (

Recent Visits from Qatar

-- January 2012: HE Saad bin Ibrahim Al Mahmoud, Minister of Education & Higher Education
-- June 2011: HE Dr Mohammed bin Saleh Al Sada, Minister of Energy & Industry
-- June 2011: HH Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned
-- May 2011: HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani, Prime Minister & Foreign Minister
-- February 2011: HE Ali bin Fetais Al Marri, Attorney-General of the State of Qatar
-- October 2010: State Visit of HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and HH Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al-Missned
-- May 2010: HE Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah, Deputy Prime Minister and (former) Energy Minister
-- April 2010: HH Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned
-- September 2009: HE Ali bin Fetais Al Marri, Attorney-General of the State of Qatar
-- July 2009: HE Yousuf Kamal, Minister of Finance
-- May 2009: HH The Emir and HH Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned; and HE Abdullah bin Hamad al Attiyah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Energy and Industry
-- February 2009: HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs
-- January 2009: HE Ahmed Abdullah Al Mahmoud, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

Recent visits to Qatar

-- January 2012: Henry Bellingham Minister for Africa Foreign & Commonwealth Office
-- December 2011: Lord Howell, Minister of State Foreign & Commonwealth Office
-- November 2011: HRH the Duke of York and Charles Hendry, Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change
-- September 2011: Lord Green, Minister of State for Trade & Investment
-- May 2011: Lord Howell, Minister of State Foreign & Commonwealth Office
-- May 2011: Dr Liam Fox, Secretary of State for Defence
-- April 2011: William Hague, Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs
-- February 2011: Prime Minister David Cameron and Lord Green, Minister of State for Trade & Investment
-- February 2011: Michael Bear, Lord Mayor of the City of London
-- January 2011: Mark Prisk, Minister of State for Business & Enterprise
-- January 2011: Alistair Burt, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office
-- December 2010: Charles Hendry, Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change
-- October 2009: HRH The Duke of York, UK Special Representative for International Trade and Investment

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Qatar is located on the east coast of the Arabian Peninsula, bordering Saudi Arabia. It is approximately 160km long and 50-80km wide with a total land area of 11,435 sq km. Sand dunes dominate the south of the country.

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Qatar is the UK’s third largest market in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and the fourth largest in the Arab world. Between 2005 and 2010 bilateral trade in goods between the UK and Qatar increased by over 700% to £3.2billion (UK goods exports to Qatar in 2010 amounted to £990million and UK goods imports to Qatar amounted to almost £2.25billion - largely driven by gas imports).

Between January and November 2011 bilateral trade in goods reached almost £5.6 billion - UK goods exports to Qatar totalled £1.04billion, a 14% increase year on year and imports from Qatar reached £4.45 billion, a 130% increase.

The UK has a number of major investors in the market, notably Shell through its Pearl Gas to Liquids (GtL) plant in Qatar which had its official inauguration in November 2011. Vodafone launched its services in July 2009, having won the second mobile operator licence. The UK’s major competitors in the market are the US, Japan and France.

Qatari investment into the UK has also increased significantly in recent years (estimated at over £10 billion) including Barclays, Sainsbury’s, Harrods, the Shard of Glass development at London Bridge, Canary Wharf, the South Hook re-gasification terminal at Milford Haven and most recently the Athletes Village in East London.

A first-time comprehensive Double Taxation Agreement between the United Kingdom and Qatar was signed in London on 25 June 2009 which strengthens economic ties between the two countries.

Qatar is pressing ahead with ambitious infrastructure development plans, funded predominantly by revenue from gas and associated products. The next few years will see the completion of new oil and gas facilities, ports, New Doha International Airport, stadiums and many new roads, hotels, and sports infrastructure to support the 2022 World Cup. The Qatar National Vision 2030 ( , published in 2008 sets out Qatar’s strategy and priorities in terms of change and development.

UK Trade & Investment Country Profile: Qatar (

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Recent Political Developments

The Emir has begun a programme of reform aimed at increasing modernisation, openness and freedom. Qatar's first elections, to the Central Municipal Council, were in March 1999; subsequent elections were held in 2003, 2007 and 2011. The Council consists of 29 seats divided into constituencies across the country. Qatari citizens over 18, both male and female, with at least 15 years’ citizenship (excluding members of the police and armed forces) may vote. In 1999, 21,992 people registered to vote, 44% of whom were women. 227 candidates stood, including six women. 88 candidates competed in the 2003 elections, and one woman was elected. She retained her seat in 2007 and 2011 with the highest majority of any candidate. In the most recent 2011 elections 32,661 people registered to vote, of whom 13,606 voted.

In 2003, some 97% of Qataris supported a new Constitution in a referendum. This new Constitution, which came into force in June 2005, provides for elections to a 45-member Legislative Council (Majlis al-Shura). Two-thirds of the Council will be elected, with the Emir appointing the remainder. The Emir will also have the authority to dissolve the Council at any time. All Qataris over the age of 18 will be able to vote and stand as candidates. The Emir announced in November 2011 that elections to the Majlis al-Shura would take place in the second half of 2013.

The Constitution also contains provisions for the establishment of an independent judiciary, equal rights for men and women and freedom of expression for the press, freedom of assembly and freedom of worship. Some elements of the constitution are yet to be fully implemented.

The Emir’s sister Sheikha Hessa bint Khalifa Al Thani became the first woman to hold Ministerial rank in Qatar in 1999. Two further female Ministers have since held the Education and Health portfolios.

The Qatari Government owns Al Jazeera, the satellite television station, which broadcasts in both Arabic and English from Qatar. Al Jazeera offers a popular platform for opinion in the region, despite attracting criticism from some other Governments. In 2006 Al Jazeera launched an English language TV channel with one of its four broadcast centres in London.

Human Rights

Qatar ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in 1976 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1995, and became the 186th State Party to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women in 2009.

Qatar released its last political prisoner in 2001.

The National Human Rights Committee was set up by Emiri Decree in 2002 with the aim of protecting human rights and freedoms. Representatives from a number of Ministries sit on the Committee, which produces an annual report that documents its activities and the support it has offered, and makes recommendations.

In 2009 the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) officially opened the UN Training and Documentation Centre for South-West Asia and the Arab Region in Doha.In 2008 the Doha Media Freedom Centre was opened with the aim of securing and defending media persons and the freedom of the press.
Also established in 2008, the Qatar Foundation for Combating Human Trafficking aims to combating human trafficking in all its forms.

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Last Updated: February 2012

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