Qatar History, Language and Culture
History of Qatar
Before the discovery of oil and natural gas, many Qataris made their living from pearl-fishing and trade.
In 1916, Qatar signed a treaty with Britain and became a British protectorate. In 1940, oil was discovered in Dukhan and after the operations went commercial in 1949, the country became rich. In 1968, Qatar briefly joined other small Gulf nations which would become the United Arab Emirates – but Qatar soon pulled out and became independent on 3 September 1971.
After independence, Qatar sought to promote political openness by sponsoring Al Jazeera, a television network known for its independent news coverage. The country also hosts a large US military base. But its relations with its neighbours, notably Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, have been strained in recent years due to Qatar's alleged support for militant Islamist groups (including the Muslim Brotherhood) and its friendly relations with Iran. Since 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed an economic blockade.
Did you know:
• There is a blue road in Qatar. Abdullah Bin Jassim Street near Souq Waqif is painted blue, instead of the usual black asphalt. Apart from pleasing to the eye, the blue colour absorbs and radiates less heat, making the road cooler too.
• Camel racing is one of the popular sports in Qatar. During races, the camel jockeys are actually robots placed atop the camel, remotely controlled by the camel owners.
• Qatar funds the Al Jazeera Media Network, known for its independent news coverage.
Religion in Qatar
About 95% of Qataris are Sunni Muslims.
Social Conventions in Qatar
Like in any country, it is important to observe local courtesies. Visitors (both men and women) should not wear revealing clothing in public places. Beachwear and bikinis are acceptable by the hotel pool but not in public places.
Business meetings usually start with handshakes between men and titles (such as Sheikh or Haji) should be used to show respect. Small talk is common and is a way of relationship building. Never rush to bring up business matters.
Exchange of business cards is also common when meeting for the first time and take a moment to read the card you receive because it is considered rude to put it away without reading it. Ideally, your name card should have Arabic printed on one side.
Language in Qatar
Arabic is the official language. English is widely spoken.