What role does Qatar play in the Middle East and how does it differ from the other Gulf states? How has the Al-Thani tribe shaped the history of modern Qatar? And how is a traditional tribal society adapting to its status as the world's fastest growing economy?Qatar plays a crucial part in the Middle East today. With the second greatest natural gas resources in the region, Qatar's economic clout is considerable. At the same time the Qatar story is replete with paradoxes: the state hosts the Al-Jazeera media network, an influential expression of Arab nationalism and anti-Americanism, while also hosting the principal US naval base in the region. Its leaders, like Saudi Arabia's, adhere to the Wahhabi form of Sunni Islam, yet Qatar eyes its Saudi neighbours with suspicion. It is a fervent champion of the Palestinian cause, yet welcomes the Israeli Foreign Minister to present the Jewish state's case in its capital, Doha. With this groundbreaking modern history, Allen J. Fromherz presents a full portrait which analyses these paradoxes and Qatar's growing regional influence within a broader historical context. He traces the rise and fall of the influence of the British, Saudi, Omani and OttomanEmpires, the challenges that independence has brought to Qatar and the intrigue and impact of the bloodless coups of 1972 and 1995. He gives particular weight to the nation's economic history, analysing the state response to the economic distresses of the 1940s and the downturn of the 1980s, due to falling oil prices, and the sudden and unprecedented boom of 1995. He also addresses what the future holds for Qatar's economy, as the country makes plans to move beyond a dependence on natural gas. Fromherz thus examines the issue that faces all Qataris, especially the ruling family: how to respond to rapid social, political and economic change, whilst maintaining tribal heritage and rule. Drawing on original sources in Arabic, English and French, as well as his own fieldwork in Qatar, Fromherz offers a multi-faceted picture of the political, cultural, religious, social and economic make-up of modern Qatar, and its significance within the GCC states and the wider region.
A Modern History