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Tuesday 24th October
Qatar Information - Page 2
History
The Arabian Peninsula has always occupied a strategic position on the trade routes between Africa and India. On the Qatari Peninsula (off the larger Arabian Peninsula) inhabitants traditionally earned their living trading, fishing and diving for pearls.

In the late seventh century the people of Qatar converted to Islam following the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed, born in Mecca on the Arabian Peninsula (Saudi Arabia).

In the early sixteenth century contact began with traders from Portugal, but in 1538 the Portuguese were expelled from the area by the Ottoman Turks. The Arabian Peninsula remained under the influence of the Ottoman Empire for four centuries.

Various treaties were signed with the British in the nineteenth century and by the early twentieth century Qatar had become a British Protectorate.

Oil was discovered in 1939, and in the 1950s and 1960s, Qatar became an increasingly important oil producing country.

Britain withdrew from the Gulf in 1971. Since independence, rulers of Qatar have been from the Al Thani family, the traditional rulers in Qatar since the mid nineteenth century.

Economy
In 2010, despite the global financial crisis, Qatar had the world's highest growth rate.

Oil and gas revenues are important to Qatar's economy supplying much of the government's budget. Efforts are being made to diversify the economy to reduce dependence on oil. Other industries include the development of offshore natural gas reserves, petrochemicals, fertilizers, steel and commercial ship repair.

In the agricultural sector government policies are designed to maximize the of use modern technology in farming and to protect and develop fish resources.

The Qatar Tourist Authority, established in 2002, is responsible for the development of the tourist industry. A key focus of its Planning and Development Division is the expansion of tourism infrastructure. (2011)

Arts
Poetry, song and dance are an integral part of Qatari culture. Storytellers, singers, dancers and musicians perform at formal celebrations.

Traditional crafts include embroidery, jewellery and weaving.

The Department of Culture and Arts is responsible for supporting artistic movements and fine arts and the National Council for Culture, Arts and Heritage was established in 1998 to sponsor national culture, arts and heritage affairs.

Sport
International sporting events hosted in Qatar include those for tennis, squash, golf, car rallies and sailing. Soccer is a very popular sport in Qatar and the national team has taken part in Olympic Finals.

Traditional sports such as camel racing, horse racing and boat races (dhows) are well supported, with falconry more popular than ever.

Holidays
The End of Ramadan and the Feast of the Sacrifice are celebrated. Qatar commemorates Independence Day on 3 September (1971 from the UK).

News
News from Qatar is available from Newslink.

Al-Jazeera, the satellite broadcaster is financed by the Qatar government.

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