Qatar – An Introduction
Qatar, officially the State of Qatar, is a sovereign country located in Southwest Asia, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the north eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its territory surrounded by the Persian Gulf. A strait in the Persian Gulf separates Qatar from the nearby island of Bahrain, as well as sharing sea borders with the United Arab Emirates and Iran. Qatar is a hereditary monarchy. It is a high income economy and is a developed country, backed by the world’s third largest natural gas reserves and oil reserves.Qatar is one of the most prosperous countries in the world and has the fastest growing economy in the Gulf Cooperation Council (the GCC). Qatar’s real GDP compounded annual growth rate was13.9 per cent between 2007 and 2011.
Currency: Qatari Riyal (QAR) where 1QAR is $0.27 approx.
Official Language: Arabic (English is used commonly in business)
Population: Approx. 2 million (80% Population comprise of expats)
Religion: Main Religion of the State is Islam but there is also small population of foreigners such as Christians, Jews, Hindus, Bahais and others.
Qatar gained full independence in 1971 and has been ruled since June 1995 by the Emir His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. The hereditary successor to the Emir is the Emir’s fourth son, the Heir Apparent His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani.The permanent Qatar Constitution (the Constitution) came into effect in 2005, replacing the constitution that had been created shortly after independence. The Constitution separates powers between the executive branch, which is comprised of the Emir with assistance from his cabinet (the Council of Ministers), the legislature (the Advisory Council) and the judiciary. The Constitution guarantees all residents of Qatar equality before the law, regardless of their origin, language, religion or gender.
Banking and Financial Services
The banking sector is supervised by Qatar Central Bank (QCB) and comprises of a combination of national and foreign banks. A total of 15 banks currently operate in Qatar, seven of which are Qatari owned institutions, including five commercial banks (Al Ahli Bank, Commercial Bank, Doha Bank, Grindlays Qatar Bank, and Qatar National Bank) and two Islamic institutions (Qatar Islamic Bank and Qatar International Islamic Bank and Masiat Al Rayan. Also represented in the local branches of foreign banks are Arab Bank, HSBC Bank, Mashreq Bank, Bank Saderat Iran, BNP Paribas, United Bank and Standard Chartered Bank. Qatar Industrial Development Bank was established 1997 and provides financing to small and medium scale industries. The insurance sector is one of the savings and investment facilities available within the country’s economic structure and participated with the national banks in the establishment of the privately owned companies. There are eight insurance companies currently operating in Qatar, in which four are joint stock companies, while the rest are representative agencies of overseas insurance companies.