- Full name: The State of Qatar
- Population: 628,000 (UN, 2005)
- Capital: Doha
- Area: 11,437 sq km (4,416 sq miles)
- Major language: Arabic
- Major religion: Islam
- Life expectancy: 71 years (men), 76 years (women) (UN)
- Monetary unit: 1 Riyal = 100 dirhams
- Main exports: Oil, gas
- GNI per capita: n/a
- Internet domain: .qa
- International dialing code: +974
- Emir: Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifah al-Thani
- Heir apparent: Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani
Qatar, officially the State of Qatar, is an emirate in the Middle East and Western Asia, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the north-eastern coast of the larger Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south; otherwise the Persian Gulf surrounds the state.
The country is characterized by a mild winter and a hot summer.
Rainfall in the winter is slight, averaging some 80 millimeters a year. The weather is generally pleasant during the period from October until May.
Temperatures range from 7 degrees centigrade in January to around 45 degrees at the height of summer.
The begining of the independence of Qatar was in 1971 after it got rid of the denomination of the Ottoman and British empires that controlled the country for centuries.
When Britain officially announced in 1968 that it would disengage politically, though not economically, from the Persian Gulf in three years' time, Qatar joined Bahrain and seven other Trucial States in a federation. Regional disputes; however, quickly compelled Qatar to resign and declare independence from the coalition that would evolve into the United Arab Emirates.
The economy in Qatar, one of the world's richest countries, was dependent prior to 1930 on fishing and pearl trade; however, as Japan entered the market, the country could no longer rely on such industry.
As the country’s economy kept declining, the discovery of oil reserves in the 1940s changed the whole future of Qatar, transforming it from a poor country to a country with a high living standard.
Production reached a cyclical peak of 530,000 barrels a day in 1973, with about half coming from offshore areas. Following the oil price slump of the mid-1980s, development slowed, but re-accelerated in the 1990s.
Important discoveries have given new life to the sector, and reserves are now estimated at 15,200 million barrels, according to figures published by British Petroleum in June 2002.
The second element of Qatar's energy sector is natural gas since it sits on the second largest gas reserves in the world after Russia, with proven reserves put at 900 trillion cubic feet.
Qatari people are descendants of Bedouin and have maintained a tradition of generous hospitality.
Qatari society, however, tends to be conservative in most respects and is heavily influenced by Islamic laws.
Islam is the official religion of the country, and the Shariah (Islamic Law) is the principal source of legislation in the country.
Qatar is well known for its handcrafts such as ship building, Al Sadu (warp industry) and jewelry.
Qatari women exercise their full rights, playing a vital role in the development process of the country. The rights of Qatari women to vote and stand as candidates in elections has been secured by the opening speech of the Emir given at the ordinary session of the Advisory Council in 1997.
Dress for Qatari women, although still conservative, is much less formal than in neighboring Saudi Arabia.
Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Amir that was born in Doha in 1952 became the Emir of the State of Qatar on June 26, 1995, continuing the rule of the Al-Thani family that began nearly two centuries ago.
Sheikh Hamad began his education in Qatar and attended Sandhurst Military Academy in England. Upon his graduation in 1971, he was commissioned as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Qatari armed forces and commanded the 1st Mobile Battalion, which has since been designated the "Hamad Mobile Battalion" in his honor.
During the last several years, Sheikh Hamad has represented Qatar on official state visits and at numerous Gulf and international forums.
Under Emir Hamad, Qatar has experienced a notable amount of socio-political liberalization, including the enfranchisement of women, and a new constitution.
Tax is levied on a taxpayer’s income arising from activities in the State of Qatar, which include:
- Profits realized on any project executed in Qatar.
- Profits realized from the sale of any of the company’s assets.
- Commission due to agencies or arising from representation agreements or commercial agency whether such commission is realized in or outside the State of Qatar;
- Fees paid for consultancy, arbitration or expertise and other related services.
- Rent from property.
- Amounts received from the sale, rent or the assignment of a concession and the use of a trade mark, design, know how or copyright.
- Amounts received from debts previously written-off.
- Profits realized on liquidation.
Current tax rates range from nil on profits up to QR 100,000 to 35% on profits exceeding QR 5,000,000. Tax is charged progressively on bands of income.
There is no personal taxation levied in Qatar. In addition, there is neither sales tax nor estate and gifts taxes.
Foreign expats account for a great percentage of the Qatari workforce, which was the reason behind the development of new programs in an attempt to encourage employment and promotion of Qatari nationals in the workforce.
However, after many plans, including a 5-year plan introduced in 2000, the government fell short to achiever any change in its workforce. Moreover, labour unions and associations are forbidden.
Although the cost of living is considered reasonable in comparison to European countries, it rose by a record 8.8 per cent in 2005, fuelled by rising house and commercial property rents.
However, the fact that there is no personal taxation on salaries in Qatar helps to ease the cost of living.
Requirements for the issuance of the Qatari visa include:
- Submitting a completed application form, this must be typed or printed clearly.
- Visa applicant must submit a valid passport with his/her application. The passport must be valid for at least six months longer than the applicant's intended stay in the State of Qatar and must have available pages to place a visa.
- Each application must have 2 color passport-size photographs (2" x 2").
- The original passport and 2 additional photocopies of the first couple of pages (with name and photo).
- A company letter (for Business Visa) or an invitation letter (for Tourist Visa) explaining the reason for the entry visa request (individual letter per applicant).
- Each application sent by mail must be accompanied by a Prepaid return envelope.
- All passport holders (Diplomatic, official, or regular) applying for a visa must submit an official request from the U.S. Department of State or the concerned government authorities. Another letter is required from the company where the applicant will work for during his/her trip (i.e. subcontractors for U.S. Government projects).