Qatar Government and Politics

State and politics

Qatar Country Flag

The country of Qatar is an emirate and the emir appoints the prime minister and appoints the government. Parliament is missing and political parties are not allowed. The country became independent in 1971. A new constitution came into force in 2005 after it was approved in a referendum in 2003.


All power is with the head of state, the emir. The Emir is also prime minister and appoints the government. The Emirate of Qatar is governed by the al-Thani family.

Political parties are not allowed. Parliament is missing. An advisory body was formed in 1972 with 20 members.


The Emir, Sheikh Khalifa, who in power in a bloodless coup in 1972 took power, initiated economic and social reforms and limited the al-Thani family’s benefits. He was ousted in June 1995 by his son Hamad bin Khalifa (born 1952), who reformed the government and appointed himself prime minister while retaining the post of defense minister and commander-in-chief.

The new regime was quickly recognized by neighboring countries as well as by the United States and the United Kingdom. The eldest son of the Emir was appointed crown prince, but in 2003 he was replaced and the younger son prince Tamim was appointed a successor to the throne. Demands for a legislative assembly have been raised and criticism of alleged abuse of power has been made.

Some steps have been taken in a democratic direction; In 1999, the first municipal elections were held in the country and women participated on equal terms as men. A new constitution came into force in 2005 since it was approved in a referendum in 2003. The new constitution included limited reforms; a consultative council was set up with 30 elected and 15 elected members.

Hamad bin Khalifa initiated a foreign policy course change and reconnected relations with Iraq and allowed business contacts with Israel. In the area of ​​domestic politics, Hamad bin Khalifa promised in 2011 that an election would be held in 2013 for the country’s consultative council, but it has repeatedly been postponed.

International relations

Qatar is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). In 2017, cooperation with the other member states was problematic as they launched a blockade against Qatar. When Turkey supported the blockade, Qatar deepened cooperation between the two countries, resulting in a strategic partnership agreement. Turkey has also been allowed to build two military bases in Qatar. Check Countryaah for other countries that start with Q.

Contacts between Qatar and Iran have also deepened. In 2020, Iranian President Hassan Rohani and Qatar’s emir met in Tehran to discuss expanded cooperation in several areas. Qatar is keen not to clash with Iran as the country is dependent on revenue from gas deposits in the Persian Gulf, which are shared with Iran. India also trades gas by Qatar. 80 percent of India’s liquefied gas imports come from Qatar and the country also imports labor from India, which often works under slave-like conditions.

Qatar’s contacts with China have deepened and since 2014 there is a strategic partnership agreement between the countries. Qatar’s contacts with the Russian Federation remain stable, including an established arms trade between the countries.

The EU and Qatar formalized their contacts in 1989, when the EU and the six Arab Gulf states in the GCC signed a cooperation agreement that would eventually develop into a free trade agreement. After years of failed negotiations, they have been put on ice.

Qatar’s relations with the United States remain stable and the United States is also the largest recipient of Qatar’s foreign investment. Furthermore, Qatar continues to play a role as a place for US contacts with the Taliban to start peace talks in Afghanistan.


The legal system in Qatar is based on Islamic law, but with a significant number of Western-inspired laws. The judiciary consists of both state and religious courts. The death penalty is punished for some serious crimes.

Human Rights

Foreign workers today make up the majority of Qatar residents. Unlike most other Gulf states, Qatar has not experienced any serious domestic unrest but the situation for the growing group of guest workers is problematic.

In connection with Qatar upgrading its infrastructure in preparation for the 2022 World Cup Tournament, several human rights organizations report on the serious situation of labor immigrants in the country. No reforms have been implemented from the authorities to ensure that foreign guest workers have adequate protection against abuse such as forced labor and human trafficking.

Forced labor and human trafficking occur to a large extent, primarily in the domestic work sector. Guest workers are at risk of being exploited and subjected to abuse by employers while limiting their civil rights, such as the right to leave the country. In addition to paying high recruitment fees, workers’ passports are rarely confiscated by their employers upon arrival in Qatar.

Particularly vulnerable are the women who make up the majority of household workers. In addition to the problems that remaining migrants face, they are also subject to verbal, physical and, in some cases, sexual abuse. For fear of deportation, the victims rarely report the perpetrators.

Freedom of speech and freedom of expression is limited in the country by the media in the country being influenced or controlled by the leading families. Journalism that criticizes the regime or is perceived to harm the national interest can be fined and the authorities monitor what is written and said. In Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index for 2015, Qatar is ranked 115 out of 180.

Heads of State


1971-72 Ahmad II bin Ali al-Thani
1972-95 Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani
1995-2013 Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani
2013 Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani

Qatar Head of Government

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