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Qatar: Glossary
Country Study > Glossary


Al - Uppercased, it connotes family of, or belonging to, as in Al Sabah, Al Khalifa, Al Thani, Al Nuhayyan, Al Maktum, Al Qasimi, and Al Said. Lowercased, it represents the definite article the , as in Ras al Khaymah.

amir - Literally, commander. In many of the Arab states of the gulf, amir often means ruler or prince.

amirate - Political entity under the rule of an amir. Analogous to a shaykhdom and, if an independent state, to a kingdom.

Bahraini dinar (BD) - Consists of 1,000 fils. Bahrain has maintained a fixed exchange rate according to which in 1993 US$1 equaled BD0.376.

barrels per day (bpd) - Production of crude oil and petroleum products is frequently measured in barrels per day. A barrel is a volume measure of forty- two United States gallons. Conversion of barrels to tons depends on the density of the specific product. About 7.3 barrels of average crude oil weigh one ton. Heavy crude is about seven barrels per ton. Light products, such as gasoline and kerosene, average close to eight barrels per ton.

downstream - The oil industry views the production, processing, transportation, and sale of petroleum products as a flow process starting at the wellhead. Downstream includes any stage between the point of reference and the sale of products to the consumer. Upstream (qv) is the converse.

gross domestic product (GDP) - A value measure of the flow of domestic goods and services produced by an economy over a period of time, such as one year. Only output values of goods for final consumption and investment are included because the values of primary and intermediate production are assumed to be included in final prices. GDP is sometimes aggregated and shown at market prices, meaning that indirect taxes and subsidies are included; when these have been eliminated, the result is GDP at factor cost. The word gross indicates that deductions for depreciation of physical assets have not been made. See also gross national product (GNP).

gross national product (GNP) - The gross domestic product (g.v.) plus the net income or loss stemming from transactions with foreign countries. GNP is the broadest measurement of the output of goods and services by an economy. It can be calculated at market prices, which include indirect taxes and subsidies. Because indirect taxes and subsidies are only transfer payments, GNP is often calculated at factor cost by removing indirect taxes and subsidies.

hadith - Tradition based on the precedent of Muhammad's words and deeds that serves as one of the sources of Islamic law (sharia).

hijra - Literally, to migrate, to sever relations, to leave one's tribe. Throughout the Muslim world, hijra refers to the migration of the Prophet Muhammad and his followers to Medina. In this sense, the word has come into European languages as hegira. The year of Muhammad's hijra constitutes the beginning of the Islamic calendar.

ibn - Literally, son of; bint means daughter of; and bani is literally sons of, hence clan or tribe.

imam - Word used in several senses. In general use, it means the leader of congregational prayers; as such it implies no ordination or special spiritual powers beyond sufficient education to carry out this function. It is also used figuratively by many Sunni (qv) Muslims to mean the leader of the Islamic community. Among Shia (qv) the word takes on many complex meanings; in general, however, and particularly when uppercased, it indicates that particular descendant of the House of Ali who is believed to be God's designated repository of the spiritual authority inherent in that line. The identity of this individual and the means of ascertaining his identity have been major issues causing divisions among Shia. Among the Ibadis of Oman, the imam was elected to office and was regarded by all as the spiritual leader of the community and by some as the temporal ruler as well. Claims of various Omani imams to secular power led to open rebellions as late as the 1950s.

import -substitution industrialization - An economic development strategy that emphasizes the growth of domestic industries, often by import protection using tariff and nontariff measures. Proponents favor the export of industrial goods over primary products.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) - Established along with the World Bank (qv) in 1945, the IMF is a specialized agency affiliated with the United Nations and is responsible for stabilizing international exchange rates and payments. The main business of the IMF is the provision of loans to its members (including industrialized and developing countries) when they experience balance of payments difficulties. These loans frequently carry conditions that require substantial internal economic adjustments by the recipients, most of which are developing countries.

jihad - The struggle to establish the law of God on earth, often interpreted to mean holy war.

Kuwaiti dinar (KD) - The national currency, consisting of 1,000 fils. The exchange rate of the Kuwaiti dinar to the United States dollar has fluctuated somewhat; in March 1992 the exchange rate was US$1 = KD0.295.

majlis - Tribal council; in some countries the legislative assembly. Also refers to an audience with an amir (qv) or shaykh (qv) open to all citizens.

Omani rial (RO) - Monetary unit of Oman, divided into 1,000 baizas. Oman has maintained a fixed exchange rate according to which in 1993 US$1 equaled RO0.3845.

Qatari riyal (QR) - The national currency consisting of 100 dirhams. Qatar has maintained a fixed exchanged rate according to which in 1993 US$1 equaled QR3.64.

shaykh - Leader or chief. Applied either to a political leader of a tribe or town or a learned religious leader. Also used as an honorific.

Shia (from Shiat Ali, or Party of Ali) - A member of the smaller of the two great divisions of Islam. The Shia supported the claims of Ali and his line to presumptive right to the caliphate and leadership of the world Muslim community, and on this issue they divided from the Sunnis (qv) in the major schism within Islam. Later schisms have produced further divisions among the Shia over the identity and number of imans (qv). Most Shia revere twelve Imams, the last of whom is believed to be in hiding. See also Twelve Imam Shia.

special drawing rights (SDR) - An International Monetary Fund (IMF -- qv) unit of account made up of a basket of major international currencies consisting of the United States dollar, the German deutschmark, the Japanese yen, the British pound sterling, and the French franc.

Sunni - The larger of the two great divisions of Islam. The Sunnis, who rejected the claims of Ali's line, believe that they are the true followers of the sunna , the guide to proper behavior composed of the Quran and the hadith (qv).

Twelve Imam Shia - The majority group among Shia (qv), who believe that the Imamate began with Ali, the fourth caliph, or successor ruler, in Islam. The line continued through his sons until the Twelfth Imam, who is believed to have ascended to a supernatural state to return to earth on Judgment Day.

UAE dirham (Dh) - National currency of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), consisting of 100 fils. The UAE has maintained a fixed exchange rate according to which in 1993 US$1 equaled Dh3.671.

ulama - Collective term for Muslim religious scholars.

upstream - The converse of downstream (qv), it includes the exploration and drilling of wells in the petroleum production process.

Wahhabi - Name used outside Saudi Arabia to designate adherents to Wahhabism (qv).

Wahhabism - Name used outside Saudi Arabia to designate official interpretation of Islam in Saudi Arabia. The faith is a puritanical concept of unitarianism (the oneness of God) that was preached by Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab, whence his Muslim opponents derived the name. The royal family of Qatar and most indigenous Qataris are Wahhabis (qv)

World Bank - Informal name used to designate a group of four affiliated international institutions that provide advice and assistance on long-term finance and policy issues to developing countries: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). The IBRD, established in 1945, has as its primary purpose the provision of loans at market-related rates of interest to developing countries at more advanced stages of development. The IDA, a legally separate loan fund but administered by the staff of the IBRD, was set up in 1960 to furnish credits to the poorest developing countries on much easier terms than those of conventional IBRD loans. The IFC, founded in 1956, supplements the activities of the IBRD through loans and assistance specifically designed to encourage the growth of productive private enterprises in the less developed countries. The president and certain officers of the IBRD hold the same positions in the IFC. The MIGA, which began operating in 1988, insures private foreign investment in developing countries against various noncommercial risks. The four institutions are owned by the governments of the countries that subscribe their capital. To participate in the World Bank group, member states must first belong to the International Monetary Fund (IMF -- qv).

Last Updated: January 1993

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Qatar was first published in 1993. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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