Democracy and rights
When the emir consults the people on national issues, it is his family he consults, as well as when he appoints other rulers. Most people living in Qatar, however, are neither related to the ruler nor citizens of the country and have limited rights. Qatari satellite TV has revolutionized news reporting for the Arab media audience, but in its home country, the channel al-Jazira isware of teasing the governing.
Lots are not allowed. In the only elections held so far, the people have been appointed elite advisers at the local level. Elections to a national council were entered into the constitution in 2003, but the promise has not been fulfilled. This does not mean that there is no opposition to the royal house Al Thani. Since neighboring countries launched a boycott against Qatar 2017, dissenting voices and certain requests for reform have been heard – from relatives to the emir who, for safety’s sake, live in exile.
- Countryaah: Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Qatar, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
Women have the right to vote and to be a candidate, to the extent that there is anything to be done for. In some other respects, the woman is more circumspect: she can only marry if a man who is her guardian (wali) approves the marriage contract and she has a duty to obey her husband.
Nine tenths of the population are guest workers with very limited rights. Poor working environment and harsh conditions have been revealed during the work on arenas and infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup, and some improvements have been made (see Calendar). Churches may be built for the growing number of Christians, but they may not mission. Open protests are rare and demonstrations require permission. For foreign citizens, participation entails the risk of being deported.
It happens that low-level officials are being punished for bribery, but Qatar lacks an independent body that could hold senior officials and members of the royal family to account for how they use their power and use the state’s financial resources.
Transparency International, which examines corruption in the world, placed Qatar in 2019 in 30 of 180 countries – the same place as Spain and better than several EU countries, see list here. The audits that the organization does, however, aim at, for example, whether power holders enrich themselves at the expense of citizens, or whether government officials let their decisions be affected by payments or services “under the table”. In Qatar’s case, it is above all another type of suspected corruption that has been noticed: payments to people abroad who could benefit the country through their assignments. Accusations that Qatar has paid bribes for hosting major international sports championships (2019 Athletics World Cup and 2022 Soccer World Cup) are being investigated by other corruption investigators in France.
Freedom of expression and media
According to the constitution, freedom of speech prevails and the press censorship was abolished in 1995, but the media exercises self-censorship. A media law from 2012 explicitly prohibits criticism of the defense, the Emirate family and national security.
All newspapers – both in Arabic and in English – are privately owned but have close ties to the Emir family and the ruling elite. According to Reporters Without Borders, political and economic pressures often control the attitude of newspapers. In 2020, the Qatar organization placed 129th out of 180 in an overview of press freedom in the world, see list here.
The state radio broadcasts in Arabic, English, French and Urdu; state television has an English language channel. Far more important, however, is the international satellite TV channel al-Jazira, which was founded in 1996 by the emir. A law in 2011 gave the channel status as a private organization in the public interest, giving it greater editorial and administrative freedom. al-Jazira has made himself known as fearless and outspoken. Its elements have sometimes angered the authorities around the world, especially in Arab countries. But if al-Jazira has revolutionized news coverage for Arab audiences in other countries, it respects the same things that are taboo in neighboring countries: criticism of the Emir and his family is rarely given room and the editors avoid reporting on Islam that could offend. Since 2007, al-Jazira has an English-language channel that broadcasts from Doha. In 2011, al-Jazira Balkans was started in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in 2014 al-Jazira Türk, which ships from Istanbul. al-Jazeera America in the United States became short-lived (2013–2016) due to low viewership.
That some subjects are sensitive in Qatar may also experience foreign media. In 2018, the local publisher of the New York Times censored articles on LGBT issues.
Materials on the internet that contain criticism of the emir, Islam or are considered morally offensive are blocked by the authorities. But the neighboring countries’ boycott of Qatar (from 2017) has fueled a lively discussion on social issues in social media.
Judicial system and legal security
Abbreviated as QAT by Abbreviationfinder, Qatar has two different court systems: one is based on the British model, the other follows Islamic law, sharia. The Shari’a courts judge in civil cases, for example in disputes concerning family law and inheritance law. There is also a superior, supreme court that refers the various cases to the right court. A Constitutional Court was established in 2007. All judges are appointed by the emir.
Qatar applies capital punishment. The most recent execution was carried out in 2003. Some corporal punishments are admitted in sharia laws, but they are not often applied.
Long detention times and vaguely worded criminal charges are common.
Sex outside marriage is prohibited. Homosexuality can result in imprisonment.
Qatar buys parts of the London and Stockholm stock exchanges
Qatar and Dubai become the largest shareholders in the London Stock Exchange, and Qatar also buys 10 percent of the shares in OMX that owns the Stockholm Stock Exchange.
New Prime Minister
Abdullah bin Khalifa Al Thani resigns as prime minister and in his place, the emir of Hamad bin Jasim bin Jabr el Thani.
Elections to the Advisory Assembly
Elections are held for the third time to the Advisory Assembly. The turnout is 51 percent.