According to the constitution approved by referendum on April 29, 2003 (officially in force since June 9, 2005), Qatar is a constitutional hereditary monarchy (emirate). The emir is the head of state, commander-in-chief of the armed forces and the chief executive officer. It appoints the members of the government (Council of Ministers) and the Prime Minister (head of government), can dissolve parliament and has the right to veto bills. The previous consultative council (35, since November 2017 41 members appointed by the emir), which only has advisory functions, is to be replaced by a unicameral parliament in 2019. The voting age is 18 years, women have the right to vote and stand for election. The new Basic Law guarantees freedom of opinion, press, assembly and religion as well as the independence of the judiciary.
The main source of legislation is Islamic law. The court structure is three-tiered and includes courts of first instance and Sharia courts, the corresponding courts of appeal and, since 1999, a court of cassation with two chambers (responsible for Sharia and other matters). A High Judicial Council was also set up in 1999 to ensure judicial independence.
The national holiday on December 18 commemorates the signing of the treaty with Great Britain in 1878 that established the rule of the Al-Thani family.
Qatar comprises seven municipalities. Since 1999, a Central Municipal Council (CMC) has been elected as an advisory body to the Ministry of Local Affairs and Agriculture.
Political parties do not yet exist.
According to 3rjewelry, there is general compulsory schooling for 6 years. The school system comprises a six-year primary level, on which a three-year intermediate level and a secondary level are built. Classes are free of charge for Qataris and children of foreigners employed in the public sector. In addition to public schools, there are foreign private schools v. a. for children from non-Qatari families. The vocational education system is being developed or expanded. The University of Qatar (founded 1973) is located near Doha.
The total strength of the volunteer army is 12,000 men. The army (8,000 soldiers) is divided into four mechanized infantry battalions, one anti-tank and one anti-tank battalion, one guards and artillery regiments and one special forces unit. The Air Force and the Navy each have 2,000 soldiers. The USA maintains the largest air landing base in the Gulf region in Qatar.
Within just a few decades, Qatar has developed from a poor desert state to a rich country with modern infrastructure and a gross national income (GNI) of (2017) US $ 61,070 per resident. The prosperity is based on the immense oil and gas reserves. The manufacturing industry (including mining and construction) accounts for 51.9% of the gross domestic product (2016), the service sector with 47.6% and the agricultural sector with 0.2%(GDP) involved. The country is trying to diversify its economy and promote the development of non-oil related industries. Areas that benefit from the low energy prices as well as financial services and the construction industry are given particular importance.
Foreign trade: The trade balance is always positive (import value 2017: 32.1 billion US $, export value: 57.3 billion US $). In addition to crude oil (export share 25.1%) and liquid gas (export share 59.5%; one of the world’s largest exporters of liquefied natural gas), commercial fertilizers, petrochemical products and aluminum are also exported. The main imports are machines and equipment for the various large-scale projects, as well as vehicles, consumer goods and food. The most important trading partners are Japan, South Korea, China, the USA and the United Arab Emirates.
Agriculture is only possible in artificially irrigated oases, which currently take up less than 1.5% of the country’s area. The water for irrigation purposes is obtained in seawater desalination plants. The main crops are barley, vegetables and dates. Fishing is practiced in the Persian Gulf. About 80% of the food has to be imported.
In addition to the mainland and submarine oil fields, there are natural gas reserves in the Persian Gulf, which have been developed since 1991, with the northern field bordering Iran. Its reserves are among the largest natural gas deposits in the world. Qatar produced 175.7 billion m 3 of natural gas (2017). The oil reserves are estimated at 2.6 billion t (2017).
The oil and gas industry has been the most important economic sector since 1949 (nationalized in 1974). In 1997 the natural gas liquefaction plant in Ras Laffan was put into operation. In 2007 a submarine pipeline to Abu Dhabi and Oman was put into operation. To the south of the port city of Doha, the Umm Said / Messaid industrial area was built with a crude oil refinery, natural gas processing facility, steelworks, cement and fertilizer factories. In 2009, production began in the country’s first aluminum smelter. The most important energy producers are the Ras Abu Fontas and Ras Abu Aboud power plants.
The well-developed road network has a length of around 7,000 km, opens up all parts of the country for the fully motorized population and connects Qatar with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The largest ports in the country are Umm Said (oil tanker terminal) and Hamad Port (container terminal), which opened in 2017. The Ras Laffan liquefied gas port and the cruise pier in Doha are also important. Doha also has an international airport. The state airline is Qatar Airways, founded in 1994.