Qatar is an Arab land in transition. Ruled by an emir who has supported democratic reforms, Qatar is moving forward with a globalization policy similar to other Westernized nations. Oil and gas exports have fueled construction of shopping malls, wide roads, and even a large US military base. Women are allowed to vote, Western clothing and products are permitted, and rap music is played. Though still politically restrictive in many ways, Qatar is more open than many of its neighbors. Qatar is also home to the Al Jazeera news organization, which often balances out Western news programming. Al Jazeera is also allowed to report critically on its home country.
In the past few years, money from oil has provided Qatar with a rapidly growing economy and a high standard of living. The reserves of oil and natural gas are enormous for such a small country. Qatar has pursued development of private and foreign investments in non-energy-related businesses, including banking and financial institutions.
Modernization efforts have helped place greater emphasis on educational reform, and university opportunities are growing fast. Qatar University was founded in 1973, and many universities from Western countries have opened up branch campuses. The emir’s second wife has actively promoted educational reforms and has encouraged women to pursue higher education. She has also created greater visibility for women in public roles and has broken through some of the cultural barriers and rules that have restricted women in other conservative Islamic Arab countries.
Source: Arabs, Islam, and Oil: Qatar
By Saylor Academy, CC-BY 3.0