Qatar has an absolutist regime and is governed by an emir, currently Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. He is also Minister of Defense and Commander-in-Chief of the Army. His third son, Sheikh Jasim bin Hamad al-Thani is the official successor. The brother of Emir Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani is Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior. The emir is entitled to appoint and dismiss ministers. The cabinet normally consists of the emir and about 15 ministers.
New laws are promulgated by decrees of the emir. Although theoretically an absolute monarch, he still depends on the support of family, the cabinet and other important Qatari families and consults them on difficult issues. These consultations are informal, but also take place through so-called "majlis" held regularly by the emir and the other members of the ruling family. Everyone can then ask the emir questions about all kinds of things. Regular, formalized consultations have been conducted since 1970 by an advisory board of thirty (male) members. This council can comment on bills, but can in fact not change anything or submit bills itself. The members of the advisory council are appointed by the emir for four years.
In 1999, Qatar held elections for the city councils of the six major cities, a unique event in the entire Gulf region. Although these councils also do not have much say, the fact that women were allowed to vote for the first time was an event of the first magnitude. There were 227 candidates, including six women.
There are no political parties and elections are never held. Trade unions are not allowed, but there is a labor law, which provides for a 48-hour work week, paid vacation and sick pay, among other things.
Qatar is administratively divided into nine municipalities: Ad Dawhah, Al Ghuwayriyah, Al Jumayliyah, Al Khawr, Al Wakrah, Ar Rayyan, Jarayan al Batinah, Madinat ash Shamal and Umm Salal. For the current political situation see chapter history.
The first tentative form of education emerged in the first half of the twentieth century when boys and girls were taught in so-called "katateeb" schools. The children were taught all kinds of things but without a formal system. Since that time, education has boomed all the way to university education.
Qatar's first proper school only opened in 1952, but it has progressed rapidly since then. Qatar now has 113 primary schools: 60 for boys and 53 for girls, 56 preparatory schools: 28 for boys and 28 for girls, and 41 secondary schools: 19 for boys and 22 for girls. Primary school lasts six years, preparatory secondary education three years and secondary education also three years. State education is completely free for all Qataris, as well as for children of foreigners working in the public sector.
Qatar also has many private schools and schools for the different Arab population groups (including Lebanese, Jordanian and Sudanese). Finally, there are also schools for the non-Arab groups such as Indians and Americans.
University education started in 1973 with two higher education institutes, one for male and one for female students.
The University of Qatar was founded in 1977 and before that, students from Qatar went to universities in the west, Lebanon and Egypt. The new university campus was opened in 1985. The university now consists of the following faculties: education, humanities and sociology, natural sciences, Islamic studies, public administration, economics and technology. All these faculties have a department for men and for women. The engineering faculty has only male students. The teachers come from Qatar, but also many from other Arab countries and some from Western countries.
In the 1994-1995 school year, there were approximately 52,000 students in primary education, 38,000 in secondary education and 8,200 students in higher education. More than 1200 students studied abroad.
Children and students are taught the Arabic language, and English is generally taught as a foreign language. Recently, it was decided to introduce English in basic education.
The first adult education center was set up in 1954 and by 1956 there were already seven schools with more than 600 students. Two schools specifically for women opened in 1976. After four years of education, students receive a diploma. As a result of these efforts, illiteracy has fallen sharply and in 1997 only 13.6% of the population over the age of ten was illiterate.
Robison, G. / Bahrain, Kuwait & Qatar
Whetter, L. / Live & work in Saudi & the Gulf
CIA - World Factbook
BBC - Country ProfilesLast updated November 2023
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