Qatar: A giant with world's highest GDP
The Fanar mosque at the popular Souq Waqif market, in the Qatari capital, Doha Photograph: (AFP)
The current spat between Qatar and the three Gulf countries, Bahrain, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt (the latter does not form a part of the Gulf States) has brought Qatar in the limelight regarding Islamic extremism, terrorism, and funding terrorist groups. Qatar has however denied these allegations. There are a few facts about Qatar the world does not know.
1. GDP and economic sectors
Qatar has the world's highest GDP per capita i.e. $129,726. Since Qatar is largely dependent on oil and gas revenue, fluctuations in oil prices result in a dampened outlook.
Nonetheless, growth in manufacturing, construction and financial services have lifted the non-oil sectors to just over half of Qatar’s nominal GDP.
According to an independent survey conducted by Priya DSouza Consultancy, only 12.10 per cent of the population of Qatar is formed by the Qatari nationals, 88 per cent of the population is immigrants, chief among who are Indians. Indians alone comprise 25 per cent of the total population.
Only 12.10 per cent of the population of Qatar is formed by the Qatari nationals, rest 88 per cent is immigrants (WION Web Team)
In fact, Qataris have been a minority in their own country for a long time. In 1970, the Qatari population was 40 per cent, and as we can see in the graphic below, it has been on a steady decline since.
In 1970, the Qatari population was 40 per cent (WION Web Team)
3. Heavy subsidies
The Qatari government provides free health care, education and electricity, as well as guaranteed access to high-paying jobs in the public sector (AFP)
The Qatari government provides free health care, education and electricity, as well as guaranteed access to high-paying jobs in the public sector, subsidised fuel, interest-free housing loans and stipends for education abroad.
However, not all immigrants enjoy these privileges, such as the daily labourers whose living conditions are nowhere close that of a Qatari national.
4. Emir Family
EMIR means the person who gives orders. It was the name of any group leader and over the years it has become the name of the governor or the sons of the governor.
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is the eighth and current Emir of Qatar. He is the fourth son of the previous Emir, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. The Al-Thani family is the descendant of the ancient Tamim tribe of central Arabia who arrived in the Arabian Peninsula in the mid-18th century.
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is the eighth and current Emir of Qatar. He is the fourth son of the previous Emir, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. (AFP)
The current Emir, Sheikh Tamim studied in Britain’s Sherborne School (International College) in 1997. He then attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, graduating in 1998. In 2005, Sheikh Tamim founded Qatar Sport Investments, which owns Paris Saint-Germain FC among other investments. In 2006, he chaired the organising committee of the 15th Asian Games in Doha.
His mother Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned is the second of three wives of The Father Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. Marhaba reports that she serves as Chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), a private non-profit organisation founded in 1995. Sheikha Mozah is the driving force behind Education City and Al Jazeera Children’s Channel.
Al-Jazeera is the influential pan-Arab and international TV broadcaster, which is owned by the government (that comprises largely of the Emir family) and has raised Qatar's media profile, reported BBC in June 2017. It can be outspoken on subjects deemed as sensitive in the region but avoids criticism of Qatar and its Gulf allies, specifically Saudi Arabia. It has faced curbs in several Arab countries where it has ruffled feathers.
Al-Jazeera is the influential pan-Arab and international TV broadcaster owned by the government (Zee News Network)
There is little or no critical reporting of domestic or foreign policy affairs. The government also filters the material available to the 2.2 million people online in the country, blocking material deemed offensive to Islam, pornographic content and online privacy resources.
Qatar government has been increasingly showing interest in tourism. Doha is a world class city in the making, and with 2022 FIFA World Cup coming to the country, infrastructure is being set up to attract tourists. Using the internet expansively, the commercial bank of Qatar has reached out to the world with its website lifeinqatar.com. Similar efforts have been done by the tourism department independently of the bank, in form of visitqatar.qa.
Qatar government has been increasingly showing interest in tourism. Doha is a world class city in making (AFP)
7. Status of Women in Society
Women in Qatar lead fairly liberal lives in comparison to other Muslim states. Women don’t need to wear the Abaya (a long black robe which covers the clothes worn underneath) or Hijab (head scarf). The general rule is that when in public a woman's clothing should cover the shoulders, upper arms and knees. Women have access to schooling and employment and have the right to drive and travel outside the country. Education is considered to be empowering in Qatar.
Women in Qatar lead fairly liberal lives in comparison to other Muslim states. (AFP)
To provide women with more access to public services, some department stores, malls, parks, and museums designate "family days" during which men are allowed entry only if they accompany their families.
(Complied by Deepali Mittal)