The State of Qatar is an independent sovereign country located along the western edge of the Arabian Gulf. It has maritime borders with Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and Iran, while sharing a land border with Saudi Arabia.
Qatar has a dry desert climate and is comprised of a peninsula that stretches approximately 200 kilometers in length and 100 kilometers in width. The total land area of the state is 11,850 square kilometers, including a number of islands and coral reefs.
The modern history of Qatar began in the early 19th century when the ruling Al Thani family settled in the southern part of the country. The family played a crucial role in negotiations with British forces in the region and brokered the agreement that established Qatar’s official formation on December 18, 1878.
Until the 1930s, Qatar was a sparsely populated country best known for its pearl industry. The discovery of oil and its subsequent exportation from 1940 onwards had a profound effect on the region and its development. At the same time, Britain’s diminishing role in the Middle East would see a number of countries seeking sovereignty. Qatar declared independence on September 3 1971.
Qatar’s move towards modernisation began in earnest in 1995 when current ruler Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani came to power. Rapid social, economic, and political reforms have been undertaken during his rule including the widening of public participation in national, the introduction of voting for women, a lifting of censorship on media, and an emphasis on arts and education. The internationally renowned Al Jazeera news network was launched here in 1996 and the Qatar Museums Authority has been instrumental in nurturing a globally recognised arts scene.
The last five years have seen Qatar emerge as a vibrant, economically thriving, safe, and progressive country with a focus on the future. While oil and natural gas have formed the basis of this transformation, Qatar’s long term vision is to become a regional arts and education hub.
As His Highness, The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani states, “Comprehensive development is our main goal in striving for the progress and prosperity of our people.”