Qatar’s history is interesting. The country was once an impoverished British protectorate but is now one of the world’s wealthiest countries.
This article covers how the country went from nomads to one of the major economic powers today.
How Did Qatar Become a Country?
Humans have likely lived in Qatar for at least 7,500 years. Early inhabitants probably relied on the sea for trade. Archaeological finds include painted pottery traded from Mesopotamia, fish bones, and flint tools. This discovery indicates that early settlers traded goods related to the sea.
Little is known about Qatar’s history before the 18th century, aside from archaeological finds. Modern Qatar history is thought to have started in 1766 when families from Kuwait, notably Āl Khalīfah, emigrated to the land.
Following the departure of the Āl Khalīfah, Qatar was ruled by a series of sheiks. The most famous of those who ruled during this period was Raḥmah ibn Jābir al-Jalāhimah. He was regarded by the British as a leading pirate of the so-called Pirate Coast.
Under the Al Thani clan rule, Qatar soon turned into the oil-rich and influential country we recognize today. In 1995, Qatar underwent a bloodless coup when Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani removed his father from power. He went on to modernize the country.
He established the Al Jazeera television network in 1996, allowed the construction of a Roman Catholic Church, and changed the role of women in society. He notably also created closer ties to the West. In 2013, the Emir handed over power to his son, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
Over the centuries, the Qatari peninsula has been influenced by a range of different powers. Some of these powers include the Ubaid (5th millennium), the Seleucid and Sasanian Empires (3rd century B.C.E. to 7th century C.E.), and the Abbasid Caliphate (750-1258 C.E.).
Archaeological discoveries have been made that indicate that prehistoric humans have lived in Qatar. During the 7th century, Qatari citizens and their rulers converted to Islam. During the medieval period, Qatar became an active participant in the Persian Gulf-Indian ocean commerce.
Qatar was dominated by the Persians for many years, using the country as a strategic position to control the trade routes to India and the Far East. In 1515 they fell under the power of the Portuguese before the Ottoman’s conquest. The Ottoman empire intermittently controlled Qatar until the start of World War I.
The Al Khalifa family started ruling the Qatari peninsula in 1783, extending their authority from Bahrain. A naval attack was launched in 1867 by the ruling family in an attempt to neutralize Qatari rebels. This attack started the Qatari-Bahrain war, which later led to a peace treaty meditated by the British. This treaty recognized Qatar’s independence from Bahrain, leading to the Al Thani family coming into power.
After the Ottoman Empire collapsed during World War I, Qatar officially became a British protectorate. The British Empire started to lose its power after World War II, especially after India and Pakistan’s independence in 1947. Britain’s decision to withdraw from all areas east of the Suez by 1971 brought Qatar and other Persian Gulf nations independence.
Nine countries, including Bahrain and Qatar, created a federation, but regional disputes caused Qatar to declare independence from this group of nations. This federation would later go on to become the United Arab Emirates.
Is Qatar an Independent State?
Yes, Qatar became an independent state on September 3, 1971. Before then, they were dominated by numerous world powers.
In 1970 the local customs based on the Islamic Wahhabi traditions were legally established as Qatar’s Basic Law. The law recognized the Emir as the paramount ruler guided by the traditions of consultation. The ruler must not violate Sharia or Islamic law.
Government departments were created to handle the country’s social concerns and forward economic progress. The Emir has an Advisory Council, which includes members from notable and religious establishments, but its members have limited powers and no independent legislative control. The ruling family dominates both the Advisory Council and the Council of Ministers and other significant economic and political roles.
There are no national elections, and the state has banned political parties. There have been municipal elections in recent years. While the general public elect members of the municipal council, they have no executive powers. They can only offer their advice to the relevant government minister.
Qatar introduced its first constitution in the summer of 2005. This document guarantees freedom of expression, assembly, and religion within the country. It also calls for a 45-seat parliament. Thirty of the seats will be filled in democratic elections, but the Emir will appoint the other seats.
Flag of Qatar
The country adopted the flag of Qatar on July 9, 1971. It is unique because it has an 11:28 ratio, where the width is more than twice the height of the flag.
Under British rule, Qatar’s flag was plain red. Later it adopted a maroon shade, symbolizing the bloodshed in the war, particularly the Qatari-Bahraini War. Then it added a white band on the hoist side to signify peace, separated by nine white triangles. The nine points of these triangled symbolize that Qatar is the 9th member of the Reconciled Emirates after the Qatari-British treaty of 1916.
Despite all the history, Qatar is a small peninsula on the Arabian Gulf. It covers around 4,247 square miles (6,286 square km).
Multiple powers have dominated Qatar because it is a link between the East and the West. The country’s geographic location has based Qatar at the crossroads of maritime and overland trading routes throughout history. Merchants would use their ports as a stop when exchanging commodities like copper, spices, pearls, and clothing.
The landmass of Qatar forms a rectangle. In local folklore, it is described as a palm of a right hand extended in prayer. Neighboring countries include Bahrain, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia.
What is The Qatar History of Trade?
In history, Qatar has frequently participated in trade and commerce. Now they rely on oil for revenue, but they were linked to the sea before discovering gas and oil. Because of their geographical situation, they have 350 km of direct access to fish and pearl oyster beds. Evidence also has been found that the ancient Qataris had a barter-based trading system, mostly using pottery and dried fishes.
In 1935 Qatar signed a concession agreement with the Iraq Petroleum Company. Oil wasn’t discovered for another four years and didn’t become commercial until 1949. The revenues were significant, but unfortunately, this economic development caused infighting within the Āl Thānī family. These internal disputes triggered a British invention, eventually leading to a palace coup in 1972 that brought Sheikh Khalīfah ibn Ḥamad Āl-Thānī to power.
Now, the once-sleepy nation is one of the richest on Earth. Their current wealth is based mainly on the export of liquefied natural gas. About 85% of Qatar’s income from exports comes from oil. Qatari citizens have one of the highest per capita incomes globally, and this industry creates a substantial number of jobs.
Is Qatar a Republic?
No, Qatar is technically an Emirate, ruled by an Emir. Since becoming independent, the country has been ruled by the Al Thani family. The Emir, cabinet ministers, and other high-ranking officials are all members of the large Al Thani family.
What is Life Like for Qatari Citizens?
Historically, life is good for Qatari citizens. After independence, Qatar developed extensive social welfare programs, including free health care, education, and grants. The country’s whole infrastructure improved with independence, including the regeneration of roads, sewage, and water desalination.
Because Qatari citizens are descendants of Bedouin, they are generous and hospitable. They are a very conservative society with heavy Islamic influences. Family, traditional architecture, items associated with the nation’s past, and images of the ruler are considered critical national symbols.
Dress is generally traditional and conservative for Qatari citizens. Qatari Arab men usually dress in a flowing white shirt called a thaw, and a headscarf called a kaffiyeh, which is held in place by a cord called an ʿiqāl.
Although women are still expected to be dressed conservatively, it’s much less formal than in neighboring countries. Many women wear a full-length black cloak called an ʿabāyah, generally over Western clothing or a ḥijāb.
What Sports Are Qatar Historically Famous For?
Qatar’s sports culture blends traditional Arabic desert activities with modern Western sports. Popular traditional sports include Arabian horse racing, camel racing, and falconry, which stems from its love for its nomadic past.
Many western sports like golf, handball, football, swimming, and volleyball have become popular recently. In 2010 it was announced that Qatar would host the finals of the 2022 World Cup football competition. This makes it the first Middle Eastern country scheduled to host the event.
Qatar also hosts several annual sporting events, including tennis, golf, and motorsport. Qatar made its Olympic debut at the 1984 Summer Games but has yet to participate in the Winter Olympics. The Qatar national Sports Federation, founded in 1961, serves as an organizing body for sports education.
School in Qatar
Public schooling has been available in Qatar since the 1950s. In 1973, it opened a teacher’s college, and in 1977 it created the colleges of Humanities and Social Sciences, Science, and Sharia and Islamic to form the University of Qatar.
It added the College of Engineering, College of Administrative Sciences and Economics, and the College of Technology. Qataris have free education from kindergarten through to university. Students who qualify for higher education abroad can get scholarships to cover the tuition, travel, and living fees.
Schools are segregated by gender. Once schooling has been completed, men and women can find employment either in the government or private sector. Qatari women generally work in government jobs like education, healthcare, and social affairs, while men have always held high-level positions. Many foreigners work in Qatari, usually taking on roles like maids, nannies, and teachers.
What Languages Are Spoken in Qatar?
The current official language is Arabic. English, Urdu, and Farsi are also commonly spoken. The Qatari dialect of Arabic is like the ones spoken in other Gulf states. The dialect used has been affected by the migration and interaction of citizens to the country.
Farsi, the official language of Iran, is also commonly spoken. This is because many families can trace their origins from Iran. English is the second most used language in Qatar. When Qatar was a British colony, English was used for official purposes. English is still taught as a second language in schools, and this is because it’s considered a business language.
We’ve covered a lot about Qatar’s history. Here’s a quick rundown of everything that happened:
- Qatar is an independent emirate on the west coast of the Persian Gulf.
- Evidence of people living in Qatar in prehistoric times.
- Dominated by the Persians and then the Ottomans before being part of the British empire.
- It gained independence in 1971.
- The flag was adopted in 1971 but has evolved to add new colors.
- It became a rich country when it discovered oil in the 1940s.
- In June 1995, Crown Prince Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani deposed his father to modernize the country.
- Now offer free healthcare and education.
- The primary language is Arabic, although the 2nd language is English.
- Conservative culture.
Qatar has an interesting history, making the country a mix of different cultures, languages, and beliefs. Their many rulers have led to them being one of the biggest leaders on the world stage.