The ruling Al Thani family continued to hold power following the declaration of independence in 1971. The head of state is the Emir, and the right to rule Qatar is passed on within the Al Thani family. Politically, Qatar is evolving from a traditional society into a modern welfare state. Government departments have been established to meet the requirements of social and economic progress. The Basic Law of 1970 institutionalized local customs rooted in Qatar,s conservative Wahhabi heritage, granting the Emir preeminent power. The Emir,s role is influenced by continuing traditions of consultation, rule by consensus, and the citizen,s right to appeal personally to the Emir. The Emir, while directly accountable to no one, cannot violate the Shari,a (Islamic law) and, in practice, must consider the opinions of leading notables and the religious establishment. Their position was institutionalized in the Advisory Council, an appointed body that assists the Emir in formulating policy. There is no electoral system. Political parties are banned.
The influx of expatriate Arabs has introduced ideas that call into question the tenets of Qatar,s traditional society, but there has been no serious challenge to Al Thani rule.
In February 1972, the Deputy Ruler and Prime Minister, Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad, deposed his cousin, Emir Ahmad, and assumed power. This move was supported by the key members of Al Thani and took place without violence or signs of political unrest.
On June 27, 1995, the Deputy Ruler, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, deposed his father Emir Khalifa in a bloodless coup. Emir Hamad and his father reconciled in 1996.
conventional long form: State of Qatar
conventional short form: Qatar
local long form: Dawlat Qatar
local short form: Qatar
note: closest approximation of the native pronunciation falls between cutter and gutter, but not like guitar
Data code: QA
Government type: traditional monarchy
Administrative divisions: 9 municipalities (baladiyat, singular - baladiyah); Ad Dawhah, Al Ghuwayriyah, Al Jumayliyah, Al Khawr, Al Wakrah, Ar Rayyan, Jarayan al Batinah, Madinat ash Shamal, Umm Salal
Independence: 3 September 1971 (from UK)
National holiday: Independence Day, 3 September (1971)
Constitution: provisional constitution enacted 19 April 1972. A commitee was formed in 2000 to create a constitution.
Legal system: discretionary system of law controlled by the amir, although civil codes are being implemented; Islamic law is significant in personal matters
suffrage is currently limited to municipal elections (for both males and females aged 18 years or more)
Qatar is expected to have more suffrage and democracy in the near future.
chief of state: Amir HAMAD bin Khalifa Al Thani (since 27 June 1995 when, as crown prince, he ousted his father, Amir KHALIFA bin Hamad Al Thani, in a bloodless coup); Crown Prince JASSIM bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, third son of the monarch (selected crown prince by the monarch 22 October 1996); note - Amir HAMAD also holds the positions of minister of defense and commander-in-chief of the armed forces
head of government: Prime Minister ABDALLAH bin Khalifa Al Thani, brother of the monarch (since 30 October 1996); Deputy Prime Minister MUHAMMAD bin Khalifa Al Thani, brother of the monarch (since 20 January 1998)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the monarch
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; note - in March 1999 Qatar held elections for representatives to its Central Municipal Council., the Advisory Council is expected to be the next Council to be elected.
unicameral Advisory Council or Majlis al-Shura (35 seats; members appointed)
note: the constitution calls for elections for part of this consultative body, but no elections have been held since 1970, when there were partial elections to the body; Council members have their terms extended every four years since
Judicial branch: Court of Appeal
Political parties and leaders: none
International organization participation: ABEDA, AFESD, AL, AMF, CCC, ESCWA, FAO, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDB, IFAD, IFRCS, IHO (pending member), ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITU, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, OPCW, OPEC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Saad Muhammad al-KUBAYSI
chancery: 4200 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20016
telephone:  (202) 274-1600
consulate(s) general: Houston
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Elizabeth MCKUNE
embassy: 22 February Road, Doha
mailing address: P. O. Box 2399, Doha
telephone:  884 101
FAX:  884 150
note: work week is Saturday-Wednesday
Flag description: maroon with a broad white serrated band (nine white points) on the hoist side