EXPLAINER: Qatar history, politics ahead of FIFA World Cup | World

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Qatar will be on the world stage like never before as the small, energy-rich country hosts the 2022 FIFA World Cup later this month.

The country, on a thumb-shaped peninsula jutting into the Persian Gulf, saw its international profile rise as Doha used its huge offshore natural gas deposits to make its country one of the wealthiest in the world by inhabitant.

He used the money to host the tournament, as well as to develop the most recognized satellite news channel in the Arab world, Al Jazeera, to build a major military base that hosts American troops and to become a trusted interlocutor for the West, even with the Taliban. .

Learn more about Qatar ahead of the World Cup.


Qatar, which is pronounced like the word “cutter” with a soft “r”, is located on the Arabian Peninsula and shares a land border with Saudi Arabia. It is also close to the island nation of Bahrain, as well as the United Arab Emirates, home to Abu Dhabi and Dubai. It sits across the Persian Gulf from Iran and shares its huge offshore natural gas field with it. Qatar is about twice the size of the US state of Delaware. The majority of its 2.9 million people live around its capital, Doha, on its east coast. Qatar is a mostly flat, desert country, where summer temperatures exceed 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) with high humidity.


Qatar is an autocratic nation ruled by its ruling emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Sheikh Tamim, 42, took power in June 2013 when his father resigned. The emir holds absolute power in the country, although a 45-seat council offers guidance. As in other Gulf Arab countries, political parties are banned. The right to form trade unions and to strike remains extremely limited. There are no independent human rights organizations operating in the country. Only about 10% of its population are citizens who enjoy extensive cradle-to-grave government benefits. Naturalization is rare.


The Al Thani family has ruled Qatar since 1847, although it was first under the Ottoman Empire and then under the British Empire. Qatar became an independent nation in 1971 when the British left the region. Oil exports began after World War II, but it took until 1997 before Qatar began shipping liquefied natural gas around the world. This new money has fueled Qatar’s regional ambitions. He founded the Al Jazeera satellite news network, which brought an Arab perspective to the mass media that helped fuel the 2011 Arab Spring protests. She also launched Qatar Airways, a major travel airline Is West.


Qatar follows an ultra-conservative form of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism, although unlike neighboring Saudi Arabia, foreigners can drink alcohol. His faith informs his politics. Qatar supported Islamists during the 2011 Arab Spring, including the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, as well as those who rose up against Syrian President Bashar Assad. Al Jazeera became famous for publishing statements by al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Qatar also served as an intermediary for the militant group Hamas, as well as a host of the negotiations between the United States and the Taliban that led to the American withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021. Its support for the Islamists partly led to a boycott of the country for years by Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. This boycott only ended when President Joe Biden prepared to enter the White House.


After allowing Western troops to be based in Qatar during the 1991 Gulf War, the country built its massive Al Udeid air base for more than $1 billion. US troops began secretly using the base after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and subsequent invasion of Afghanistan. Use of the base became public knowledge during a trip to the Middle East by then-Vice President Dick Cheney in March 2002, although sensitivity to the American presence continued for years. America then moved the forward headquarters of the US Army’s Central Command to Al Udeid in 2003 and conducted air operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, including during the rise of the Islamic State group and the evacuation of Kabul in 2021. It hosts some 8,000 United States. troops today. Turkey also maintains a military base in Qatar.

Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.

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