Qatar , officially the State of Qatar , is a sovereign Arab emirate, located in Western Asia, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeasterly coast of the much larger 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 kingdom of Bahrain.
Qatar is an absolute monarchy that has been ruled by the Al Thani family since the mid-19th century. Before the discovery of oil, Qatar was noted mainly for sea trade and pearl hunting. Following Ottoman rule it became a British protectorate in the early 20th century until gaining independence in 1971. In 1995, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani became Emir when he deposed his father, Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, in a peaceful coup d'état, only to later step down in favor of his son, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, on June 2013. Qatar's semi-electedMajlis al Shura has very limited legislative authority to draft and approve laws; the Emir has final say on all matters. Most Qataris belong to the strict Wahhabi sect of Islam. Qatar has the most conservative society in the GCC after Saudi Arabia.
Qatar has the world's third largest natural gas reserves and oil reserves in excess of 25 billion barrels, which have fueled Qatar to becomethe world's richest country per capita and achieve the highest human development in the Arab World and 36th highest globally; furthermore, it is recognized as a high income economy by the World Bank and also the 19th most peaceful country in the world. Qatar is currently undergoing transformation under the National Vision 2030, in which it expects to achieve an advanced, sustainable, and diversified economy. In order to promote tourism, Qatar has invested billions into improving infrastructure. It held the 2006 Asian Games and will be the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, becoming the first Arab country to host either of the events. Qatar has become an influential player in the Arab world. Qatar supported several rebel groups during the Arab Spring both financially and by asserting global influence through its expanding news group, Al Jazeera.
Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood and allied groups throughout the middle east, as well as positions taken by Al Jazeera have led to increasing tensions with other Gulf States. These came to a head during a March 2014 meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council, after which the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain announced the recall of their ambassadors to Qatar.
Qatar maintains close relationships with western powers—Al Udeid Air Base plays host to US and UK air forces—and eastern powers, and has often tried to bridge the gap between Muslim and non-Muslim states. Qatar has a population of around 1.8 million people; however, only 280,000 of these are citizens, as the majority of the population are foreigners who work and live in the state. It is also one of the few countries in which citizens do not have to pay any taxes. Qatar is a member of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Gulf Cooperation Council, OPEC and the Council of Arab Economic Unity.