The state of Qatar lies on a peninsula in the Persian Gulf. It borders Saudi Arabia to the south. Qatar is approximately 11.600 square kilometers (2020 census), making it one of the smaller countries both in the Middle East region and worldwide. Despite its small size, Qatar plays a significant geopolitical and economic role due to its rich natural gas and oil reserves and its strategic position in the Persian Gulf.
Article overview Doha
History in a nutshell
Archaeological finds show that the area of Qatar has been inhabited since the Stone Age. Over the millennia, different cultures emerged. In the Middle Ages the region was part of the Islamic Empire. During this time, trade and culture continued to develop. Qatar was known for its pearl fishery, which remained an important source of income into the 20th century. In the 16th century, Qatar fell under the rule of the Ottoman Empire.
British influence began in the 19th century, and Qatar became a British protectorate. Qatar gained independence from Great Britain in 1971. At this time, the country began to develop its extensive oil and natural gas reserves, leading to enormous prosperity and rapid modernization.
Geography and climate
Qatar is a predominantly flat country consisting mostly of desert.
Qatar - desert
The highest natural elevation is the Qurain Abu al Bawl with a height of around 103 meters. Qatar has a long coastline along the Persian Gulf, rich in mangroves and beautiful beaches. There are isolated sand dunes on the southeast coast, and coral reefs on the eastern side.
Qatar - mangrove landscape
Qatar has a desert climate with very hot summers and mild winters. Temperatures can reach over 40 degrees Celsius in summer. Qatar is one of the driest regions in the world. Rainfall is rare and mostly concentrated in the winter months. Qatar is trying to address water scarcity and desertification through modern technologies such as seawater desalination and sustainable development projects.
politics and society
Qatar is an absolute monarchy. The head of state and the highest representative of the executive and legislative power is the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. The Al Thani family has ruled the country since the 19th century.
Qatar plays an active role in international diplomacy, often as a mediator in regional conflicts in the Middle East. It maintains relationships with different countries and political groups.
2,84 million people live in Qatar (2020 census). Qatari citizens make up only a small percentage of the total population.
The largest part consists of foreign workers and expatriates. Qatar has been criticized internationally for its human rights record and working conditions for guest workers, particularly in connection with preparations for the World Cup.
Arabic is the official language, but English is widely spoken. Sunni Islam is the state religion and Sharia is the essential basis of jurisprudence. The society is deeply rooted in Arab culture. Qatar is known for its conservative cultural values, although there has been increasing modernization and liberalization in recent years.
Economy, tourism and sport
Qatar is known for its economic power, which is based primarily on extensive natural gas and oil reserves. Thanks to this thriving economy, Qatar has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world.
Qatar is gradually diversifying its economy, including in the areas of finance, tourism and education. The Education City complex was built in Doha. This center for education and research houses various international universities and research institutions.
Qatar has invested heavily in developing the tourism sector in recent years to attract more international visitors. The mix of modern attractions and traditional sights appeals to tourists. The country has also established itself as an important player in international sports with state-of-the-art sports facilities, which further contributes to its popularity. Qatar regularly hosts international sporting events. The outstanding event was the 2022 Football World Cup.
Doha - Khalifa Stadium
The capital Doha
Doha is the capital and the most populous city in Qatar with 1,86 inhabitants. Doha plays a central role as the country's political, economic and cultural center. The city is home to many of the country's most important companies and institutions, including the central government and international companies.
The city is known for its futuristic skyline. The impressive architecture combines traditional Islamic designs with modern aesthetics. Many buildings in the city are the works of famous international architects.
Doha has a modern infrastructure. Hamad International Airport is one of the largest and most modern airports in the world, which also serves as a hub between Europe, East Asia and Africa. The public transport system has been greatly expanded in recent years, including a new metro.
Qatar for cruise passengers
Doha has established itself as a major cruise port in the Gulf region. The city is easily accessible from other popular Middle Eastern destinations and is an ideal starting or ending point for cruises.
Doha - Grand Cruise Terminal
The cruise port in Doha's Mina district is equipped with modern facilities and services that ensure efficient handling of cruise ships and a pleasant stay for passengers. The port can also accommodate larger cruise ships.
For cruise guests, Doha offers a wealth of attractions. These include cultural sights such as the Souq Waqif, the Museum of Islamic Art and the Grand Mosque. There are also various shopping options, from traditional markets to luxury malls. We report on this in detail in our article Doha / Qatar attractions.