Opinion and Commentary By Donna Westfall – December 6, 2023
What do we know about Qatar?
It’s a very small country about the size of Connecticut with less than 3 million population. Around 8,000 US citizens live there. They are called the “richest county in the world.” It’s official religion is Islam.
How did they become so rich? In 1939 they started exploring oil and gas fields. In 1973 their oil and gas fields revenue increased so much they left being one of the poorest nations in the world to being one of the richest.
How do they spend/invest their money? The family consists of 200 members that hold positions of power either politically or in business. Pictures of super yachts, real estate around the world, and golden palaces abound. They are the largest property owner in London. They have a stake in some of the following companies:
- Miramax Film Studio acquired from Disney
- Chernin Group
- Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy
- Credit Suisse
- Barclays, and more.
Then there are contributions/donations which will be addressed in PART 2.
What are some of the downsides of Qatar? There are more men than women. About 3/4 of the population are male while only 1/4 are female. Men can have up to four wives. Seems to me that women should be able to have up to four husbands. But, not in Qatar and not in most of the world. Their record on human rights leaves a lot to be desired particularly for immigrant workers.
What has Qatar got to do with Hamas? According to the Henry L. Stimson Center, “Qatar, which first opened a channel of communication with Hamas in 2006 at the request of the United States, according to an informed source, helped broker ceasefires between Israel and Hamas in 2014, 2021, and 2022. Doha (capital of Qatar) has also provided Gaza with economic and humanitarian assistance. The gas-rich emirate has helped Washington engage Hamas in ways prohibited to Washington by U.S. law because of the U.S. designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization.”
Who is the leader of Qatar?
Until June 2013 it was Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. He has three wives. His first wife is his first cousin. Did you know there are 24 states in America that ban marriage between first cousins. The reason: Genetic concerns. They are more likely to have diseases or other issues like birth defects or the baby dying early. Al-Thani has 11 sons and 13 daughters. In 1995, Hamad took control of the country while his father was on vacation in Geneva, Switzerland. They call it a bloodless coup d’etat. Hamad was raised by his Uncle. Maybe his allegiance to his father was lacking. At any rate, in 1992, his father handed over daily control to Hamid, but retained control of the finances AND tried to regain control previously relinquished to Hamid. After the coup, his father then went to France then Abu Dhabi living in exile. In 1996, a counter coup was attempted but failed.
2013, Hamid turned over control to his fourth son (by his second wife), Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani currently 43 years old. Hamid retired at the age of 61 and is now 71 years old.
What is the political landscape?
There are no political parties. It is forbidden by law. There are no elections for national leadership. Any members of the family with dissident views mostly live abroad and have no organized public support.
How are citizens treated?
Services provided FREE by the government:
On the other hand, it is against the law to live together without benefit of marriage. It is also unacceptable to have public displays of affection and applies to both married and unmarried couples. This includes kissing, hugging and in places, holding hands. If you book a room in a Qatar hotel, you will not be able to share a room if you’re not married. It would be best to book two rooms. There are NO LGBT rights in Qatar and under their Penal Code 2004 can spend from 1-3 years in prison. The ultimate penalty is death, but seems not to be enforced. Non-Muslins may pay a fine and get up to seven years imprisonment. Lesbians are not explicitly prohibited by law as men are.
End of Part 1.