Located on a small peninsula that extends into the Persian Gulf on the east side of the Arabian Peninsula, Qatar is a country best known for its frequents sand storms, hospitable locals, and barren fields. Spanning an area of 11,521 square kilometers, the small Muslim territory has a population of only 768,000. Although the national language is Arabic, locals are also known to speak English, Urdu, French, Malayalam, and Tagalog. It’s currency is the Qatari rial, and it is situated between Saudi Arabia, which is to its left, and the United Arab Emirates found to its right. Pronounced as “KAH-ter”, the country proudly boasts a position on the esteemed Global Peace Index, bagging a spot on the top 30 most peaceful countries in the world. To date, Qatar ranks number one in the MENA region. To learn more about the incredible history of Qatar, read on for more. Enjoy!
Fact 1: The earliest relics and fossils of human habitation in Qatar were discovered to date back to the 4th century BC, where Danish, British, as well as French expeditions between the years 1965 and 1976 were able to unearth artefacts such as rock and tablet inscriptions, rock carvings, spearheads, and even pottery.
Fact 2: Although the country officially became independent on the 3rd of September, 1971, Qatar National Day is celebrated every 18th of December. Other popular annual celebrations include Qatar National Sports Day, which is held every second Tuesday of February. Because Qatar is primarily an Islamic country, the most prominent festivities are none other than Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha. Eid Al Fitr, also known as Ramadan, is the feast or Festival of Sacrifice. Eid Al Adha on the other hand signifies the end of the fasting period.
Fact 3: 1972 marked the year Qatar made its name on the maps. Under the rule of the great Sheikh Khalifa Bin Hamad al Thani, the country had never been better. The country’s economy, as well as its construction sector, was growing rapidly. Ever where you looked, hospitals were being put up and buildings were being erected.
Fact 4: Before Qatar made its fortune from its oil resources, pearl diving was the country’s way of generating money. In 1939, oil reserves were discovered, and the oil business soon becomes Qatar’s main source of revenue, replacing both fishing and pearling. The 1950s make way for the expansion and modernization of Qatar’s infrastructure, all thanks to the funds that came from the oil revenues.
Fact 5: Since 1949, the country has been making the most of its resources and exporting much of its oil. As reserves decline, Qatar has been forced to turn to its other key player: natural gas. The North Field of Qatar, which is roughly half the size of the entire country, is the largest reserve of natural gas in the entire world.
Fact 6: 1970 marked the beginning of Qatar’s economic growth. The country’s economy was heavily reliant on foreign workers, namely those from Pakistan, India, and Iran. These foreigners outnumber the nationals to this day, making up more than one-tenth of the population.
Fact 7: By the end of the 20th century, Qatar had already begun efforts to expound on other products aside from oil and fishing. Production and sales for meat, grain, and milk began to sky rocket.
Fact 8: On the 9th of June, 2005, Qatar introduced to the world its very first constitution. Guaranteeing absolute freedom of expression, assembly, and religion, calling for a 45-seat parliament. Out of the 45 seats, 30 are to be voted for by the public during the democratic elections, while the remaining seats will be appointed by the emir himself.
Fact 9: The Crown Prince Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani overthrew his father because the King was out of step with the nation’s economic reforms. Now with a higher position, the new ruler was able to lift press censorship and women’s suffrage by 1999.
Fact 10: The sports culture of Qatar meshes together Arabia’s desert society with the Western influences, creating contemporary sports with a uniquely Arabian flare. Some of these sports include Arabian horse racing, camel racing, and falconry. Qatarians are fond of football, swimming, and soccer too. In fact, in early 2010 it was announced that the prestigious Word Cup finals will be held in Qatar in the year 2022!