Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Where in the world is Doha?

Country map and flag of Qatar

Doha is the capital city of Qatar and is the only major city in the country.  Qatar has a citizen population of 450,000, which makes it about as large as Austin.  The country is a peninsula off the east coast of Saudi Arabia roughly the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. Yet, it is one of the richest and more progressive nations in the Middle East with a per capita income of $67,000 (compared to roughly $40,000 in the U.S).

Doha has also been the site of the World Trade Organization's "Doha Round" of trade talks since 2001.

The People
Qataris are descended from a number of migratory tribes that came to Qatar in the 18th century from neighboring Gulf emirates while others are descended from Persian merchants. Most of Qatar's 1.5 million inhabitants live in Doha, the capital.

Foreigners with temporary residence status make up about three-fourths of the population. Foreign workers comprise as much as 85% of the total population and make up about 90% of the total labor force. Most are South and Southeast Asians, Egyptians, Palestinians, Jordanians, Lebanese, Syrians, Yemenis, and Iranians. About 8,000 U.S. citizens reside in Qatar.

For centuries, the main sources of wealth were pearling, fishing, and trade. At one time, Qataris owned nearly one-third of the Persian Gulf fishing fleet. With the Great Depression and the introduction of Japan's cultured-pearl industry, pearling in Qatar declined drastically.

The Qataris are mainly Sunni Muslims. Islam is the official religion and is the basis of Qatar's legal system. Civil courts have jurisdiction over commercial law. Arabic is the official language but and English is widely spoken.  More information on the country can be found on the U.S. Department of State web site.

When the Ottomans left at the beginning of World War I, the British recognized Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani as ruler. The Al Thani family had lived in Qatar for 200 years. 

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