Qatar. The first church in Qatar opened on March 14. The Roman Catholic St. Mary’s Church in the capital Doha is primarily aimed at the country’s guest workers from the Philippines and other southern Asian countries. A new law was voted on in June to protect guest working maids. Under the new law, guest workers are entitled to one paid day off per week and three weeks’ holiday per year. The new law also stipulated that employers must pay wages as agreed.
In November, the Museum of Islamic Art opened in Doha. The museum, designed by veteran architect IM Pei, holds 800 works of art – ceramics, jewelry, manuscripts, textiles, metal and glass. The collections and the museum building had been financed by the royal family.
Qatar and Saudi Arabia agreed in December on how to draw the border between the countries, an agreement that was expected to set the point for a multi-year schism.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER: Click to see the meanings of 2-letter acronym and abbreviation of QA in general and in geography as Qatar in particular.
In 2014, several called their ambassadors from Doha. In 2017, several countries broke diplomatic relations, while Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia also sought to isolate Qatar by closing the borders. Neighboring countries, as well as Egypt, accused Qatar of representing a security risk because the country is alleged to support groups that are considered a threat to national security in those countries. In particular, Qatar is accused of supporting Islamist groups, especially various parts of the Muslim Brotherhood. Qatar also supports Hamas and has relations with Hezbollah. Both have close relations with Iran, which Qatar also has direct contact with.
Qatar’s connection with Iran is one of the main reasons why other countries in the region, led by Saudi Arabia, broke ties in 2017: Iran is the regional superpower rival to Saudi Arabia, and especially in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, fears of increased religious and political influence of Iran, and that it may undermine the authority and power of the respective regimes. Qatar’s relations with Iran are substantially economic. The two countries share the world’s largest field of natural gas (South Pars), with shared extraction rights. In the fall of 2017, Qatar again sent an ambassador to Iran to strengthen bilateral relations.
Like other Gulf countries, Qatar has supported Islamist groups in Libya and Syria, among others. Qatar is also accused of supporting rebel groups in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, which according to these countries should also be supported by Iran. Kuwait assumed a mediator role in the conflict in 2017, handing over a list of demands from countries that severed relations with Qatar. Among the demands was that Qatar shut down the state-sponsored television station Al Jazeera.
The 2017 diplomatic crisis has also been attributed to allegations of hacking by, among other things, the Qatari News Agency, and the posting of fake news that compromised the country’s authorities.
Following the diplomatic breach and the closure of the borders in June 2017, Qatar declined to pose any security risk to other countries. Political action against Qatar came shortly after US President Donald Trump visited the region and consolidated close relations with Saudi Arabia.
As a result of the war in Syria, Qatar has strengthened its relations with Turkey. This connection is further strengthened as a result of the Saudi-led GCC action against Qatar in 2017. In April 2016, Qatar signed an agreement with Turkey, which was given the opportunity to establish a military base in the country; Turkey’s first in the region. The base can accommodate 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers, and about 200 were deployed. Following the crisis in 2017, Turkey opened up its presence, thereby strengthening its position in the region, in line with its ambition to assume a leadership role in the Middle East. Military cooperation is an extension of economic relations. Qatar has invested heavily in Turkey, including in the financial and arms industries. Turkey buys a lot of natural gas from Qatar. The two countries have, to some extent, pursued a concurrent policy in the region, including support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar is the United States largest in the region, with around 10,000 personnel deployed. The base is also used as an advanced command center for US Central Command and US Air Forces Central Command. In addition, the United States has established a base for pre-warehousing army supplies; As-Sayliyah. In 2017, Qatar entered into agreements with the US arms industry, with approval from the US authorities, on the purchase of F-15 fighter aircraft. This happened at the same time as President Donald Trump accused Qatar of financing terrorism. The US uses the Al-Udeid base, among other things, in the military campaign against the Islamic State (IS).
According to Countryaah reports, the population of Qatar in 2008 was 1,856,216, ranking number 148 in the world. The population growth rate was 16.490% yearly, and the population density was 159.8904 people per km2.