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Qatar: Country and Foreign Investment

Executive Summary

Qatar is a Middle Eastern peninsula jutting north into the Persian Gulf. The country shares a border with Saudi Arabia, and is located between Bahrain to the northwest and the United Arab Emirates to the southeast; Iran lies north across the water. The terrain is largely flat, rocky desert with shifting sands, and with salt flats around the coast. The capital city is Doha; the city is one of five ports, the others being Umm Said, Al Khor, Al Wakrah, and Ras Laffan.

Qatar has a population of just over 2.04m (as at July 2012, including expatriates). It is estimated that 40% are Arab, 18% Indian, 18% Pakistani, and 10% Iranian, with 14% making up other ethnic groups. The principal religion is Islam.

Until October 2004, Qatari laws operated on a two-tier system: Sharia law was administered at the local level, while the civil courts operated on the English model, a hangover from a period during which Qatar was a British protectorate. A new unifying law has since come into force, and the Qatari Constitution came into effect in June 2005; Islamic Sharia is the principal source of legislation.

The government of Qatar is based on a traditional monarchy, whereby the Emir (presently Amir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani) is head of state. The Prime Minister is Abdallah bin Nasir bin Khalifa Al-Thani and the Deputy Prime Minister is Ahmad bin Abdallah al-Mahmud.

The economy is largely centered on Qatar’s gas and oil reserves, with oil production accounting for around two-thirds of total government revenues; Qatar’s proven gas reserves are the world’s third largest. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) and oil exports make up around 85% of all exports and more than 50% of GDP. Per capita GDP is also among the world’s highest, at US$102,900 in 2012 (US Department of State figures).



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