Qatar: Background and U.S. Relations
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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Qatar, a small peninsular country in the Persian Gulf, emerged as a partner of the United States in the mid-1990s and currently serves as host to major U.S. military facilities. Qatar holds the thirdlargest proven natural gas reserves in the world, and its small citizenry enjoys the world s highest per capita income. The emir of Qatar, Shaykh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, has managed a course of major economic growth and very limited political liberalization since replacing his father in a bloodless palace coup in 1995. The emir has undertaken several projects to capitalize on Qatar s hydrocarbon resources, improve educational opportunities for Qatari citizens, and pursue economic diversification. As part of Qatar s liberalization experiment, the Qatari monarchy founded Al Jazeera, the first all-news Arabic language satellite television network, in 1995. The network has proven influential and controversial since its establishment, including during recent unrest in the Arab world. In an April 2003 referendum, Qatari voters approved a new constitution that officially granted women the right to vote and run for national office. Long-delayed elections for two-thirds of the seats in a national Advisory Council outlined by the new constitution are planned for 2013. Central Municipal Council elections were held in May 2011.
- Government and Political Science