Qatar was ruled by Bahrain from the 1700s until the mid-1800s, when Great Britain and the Ottoman Empire began vying for control of the peninsula. It was a British protectorate from 1916 until 1971, when it became independent. In the 1980s and 90s Qatar had territorial disputes with Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. During the Persian Gulf War (1991) international coalition forces were deployed on Qatari soil.
The present emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, came to power in 1995 after ousting his father. In the late 1990s Sheikh Hamad eased press censorship and promoted ties with Iran and Israel. Since 2001 Qatar has allowed U.S. use of the Al Udeid air base, and the headquarters for the U.S. invasion of Iraq (2003) were in the country.
Qatar, officially State of Qatar, independent emirate (1995 est. pop. 534,000), 4,400 sq mi (11,400 sq km), on a largely barren peninsula in the Persian Gulf, bordering Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (S). The capital is Doha. The economy of Qatar is dominated by oil and natural gas, which accounts for 70% of export income. Oil and gas revenues have been used to diversify the economy, including the development of chemicals, steel, cement, and fertilizer industries and banking. A minority (20%) of the population are Qataris (Arabs of the Wahhabi sect of Islam); the rest are largely other Arabs, Pakistanis, Indians,and Iranians. Arabic is the official language, but English is also widely spoken. The country is a monarch