Qatar is an absolute monarchy, with the Emir of Qatar as head of state and head of government. Under the 2003 constitutional referendum it should become a constitutional monarchy. In November 2011, Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani announced the first legislative election to take place in 2013.
In Qatar, the ruling Al Thani family continued to hold power following the declaration of independence in 1971. The head of state is the Emir, and the right to rule Qatar is passed on within the Al Thani family. Politically, Qatar is evolving from a traditional society into a modern welfare state. Government departments have been established to meet the requirements of social and economic progress. The Basic Law of Qatar 1970 institutionalised local customs rooted in Qatar's conservative Islamic heritage, granting the Emir pre-eminent power. The Emir's role is influenced by continuing traditions of consultation, rule by consensus, and the citizen's right to appeal personally to the Emir. The Emir, while directly accountable to no one, cannot violate the Sharia (Islamic law) and, in practice, must consider the opinions of leading notables and the religious establishment. Their position was institutionalised in the Advisory Council, an appointed body that assists the Emir in formulating policy. There is no electoral system. Political parties are banned.
The influx of expatriate Arabs has introduced ideas that call into question the tenets of Qatar's traditional society, but there has been no serious challenge to Al Thani rule.
In February 1972, the Deputy Ruler and Prime Minister, Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad, deposed his cousin, Emir Ahmad, and assumed power. This move was supported by the key members of Al Thani and took place without violence or signs of political unrest. On June 27, 1995, the Deputy Ruler, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, deposed his father, Emir Khalifa, in a bloodless coup. Emir Hamad and his father reconciled in 1996. Increased freedom of the press followed, and the Qatar-based Al Jazeera television channel (founded late 1996) is widely regarded as an example of free and uncensored source of news in Arab countries.
The Emir has the exclusive power to appoint and remove the prime minister and cabinet ministers who, together, comprise the Council of Ministers, which is the supreme executive authority in the country. The Council of Ministers also initiates legislation. Laws and decrees proposed by the Council of Ministers are referred to the Advisory Council (Majlis al Shura) for discussion after which they are submitted to the Emir for ratification.
The Advisory Council has 35 appointed members with only consultative tasks. However, the 2003 Constitution of Qatar calls for a 45 member elected Legislature, which is to be made up of 30 elected representatives and 15 appointed by the Emir. In 2006, Prime Minister Al Thani (then the Deputy PM) announced that elections would be held in 2007. However, only a legislative council to review the subject was created that year. The actual elections have been postponed three times; most recently in June 2010, when the Emir extended the Consultative Assembly's tenure until 2013.
|Country name||:||conventional long form: State of Qatar
conventional short form: Qatar
local long form: Dawlat Qatar
local short form: Qatar
note: closest approximation of the native pronunciation falls between cutter and gutter, but not like guitar
geographic coordinates: 25 17 N, 51 32 E
time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
|Administrative divisions||:||7 municipalities (baladiyat, singular - baladiyah); Ad Dawhah, Al Khawr wa adh Dhakhirah, Al Wakrah, Ar Rayyan, Ash Shamal, Az Za'ayin, Umm Salal|
|Independence||:||3 September 1971 (from the UK)|
|National holiday||:||Independence Day, 3 September (1971); also observed is National Day, 18 December (1878) (anniversary of Al Thani family accession to the throne)|
|Constitution||:||ratified by public referendum 29 April 2003; endorsed by the Emir 8 June 2004, effective 9 June 2005|
|Legal system||:||mixed legal system of civil law and Islamic law (in family and personal matters)|
|International law organisation participation||:||has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt|
|Suffrage||:||18 years of age; universal|
|Executive branch||:||chief of state: Emir HAMAD bin Khalifa Al Thani (since 27 June 1995); Heir Apparent TAMIM bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, fourth son of the emir (selected Heir Apparent by the emir on 5 August 2003); note - Emir HAMAD also holds the positions of Minister of Defence and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces
head of government: Prime Minister HAMAD bin Jasim bin Jabir Al Thani (since 3 April 2007); Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad bin Abdallah al-MAHMUD (since 20 September 2011)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the emir
elections: the position of emir is hereditary
|Legislative branch||:||unicameral Advisory Council or Majlis al Shura (45 seats; 15 members appointed; 30 members elected by popular vote)
note: the Advisory Council has limited legislative authority to draft and approve laws, but the emir has final say on all matters; no legislative elections have been held since 1970 when there were partial elections to the body; Council members have had their terms extended every year since the new constitution came into force on 9 June 2005; the constitution provides for a new 45-member Majlis al Shura; the public would elect 30 members and the Emir would appoint 15; elections to the Majlis al Shura have been rescheduled for 2013; Qatar in May 2011 held nationwide elections for the 29-member Central Municipal Council (CMC) - first elected in 1999 - which has limited consultative authority aimed at improving municipal services
|Judicial branch||:||Courts of First Instance, Appeal, and Cassation; an Administrative Court and a Constitutional Court were established in 2007; note - all judges are appointed by Emiri Decree based on the recommendation of the Supreme Judiciary Council for renewable three-year terms|
|Political parties and leaders||:||none|
|Political pressure groups and leaders||:||none|
|International organisation participation||:||ABEDA, AFESD, AMF, CICA (observer), FAO, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAPEC, OAS (observer), OIC, OPCW, OPEC, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO|
|Diplomatic representation in the US||:||chief of mission: Ambassador Muhammad bin Abdallah bin Mitib al-RUMAYHI
chancery: 2555 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20037
telephone:  (202) 274-1600 and 274-1603
fax:  (202) 237-0061
consulate(s) general: Houston
|Diplomatic representation from the US||:||chief of mission: Ambassador Susan L. ZIADEH
embassy: Al-Luqta District, 22 February Road, Doha
mailing address: P. O. Box 2399, Doha
telephone:  488 4161
fax:  488 4150
|Flag description||:||maroon with a broad white serrated band (nine white points) on the hoist side; maroon represents the blood shed in Qatari wars, white stands for peace; the nine-pointed serrated edge signifies Qatar as the ninth member of the "reconciled emirates" in the wake of the Qatari-British treaty of 1916
note: the other eight emirates are the seven that compose the UAE and Bahrain; according to some sources, the dominant colour was formerly red, but this darkened to maroon upon exposure to the sun and the new shade was eventually adopted
|National anthem||:||name: "Al-Salam Al-Amiri" (The Peace for the Anthem)
lyrics/music: Sheikh MUBARAK bin Saif al-Thani/Abdul Aziz Nasser OBAIDAN
note: adopted 1996; the anthem was first performed that year at a meeting of the Gulf Cooperative Council hosted by Qatar