Politics of Qatar
Learn more about Politics of Qatar
This article is part of the series:
Other countries • Politics Portal
 Executive branch
|Main office holders|
|Emir||Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani||since 27 June 1995|
|Prime Minister||Abdullah bin Khalifah Al Thani||30 October 1996|
In Qatar, the ruling Al Thani (الثاني) 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 Qatar 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. Increased freedom of the press followed, and the Qatar-based Al Jazeera television channel (founded late 1996) is widely regarded as the only example of free and uncensored source of news in Arab countries.
 Consultative Assembly
The Consultative Assembly (Majlis as-Shura) has 35 appointed members with only consultative tasks.
 Political parties and elections
Qatar is developing into a constitutional monarchy, but it doesn't allow political parties and doesn't hold elections on a national level. Suffrage is currently limited to municipal elections (for both males and females aged 18 years or more). Expatriate residents are excluded. The elected Municipal Council has no executive powers but may offer advice to the Minister.
The State is gradually increasing popular participation in public affairs. The draft constitution envisages a partially elected Advisory Council, to review legislation and advise the Amir.
 Legal system
Qatar has a discretionary system of law controlled by the emir, although civil codes are being implemented; Islamic law is significant in personal matters.
 Human rights
To Western eyes, the Qatari authorities seem to keep a relatively tight rein on freedom of expression and moves for equality; but when compared to neighbors like Saudi Arabia, Qatar boasts one of the best standards-of-living and quality-of-life in its region.
Freedom in the World 2006 lists Qatar as "Not Free", and on a 1-7 scale (1 being the most "free") rates the country a 6 for political rights and 5 for civil liberties.
 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
 Foreign relations
According to BBC, in April 2006 Qatar announced that it will give $50m USD (£ 28m) to the new Hamas-led Palestinian government. Many western countries have cut off financial support to the Palestinian Authority since its election of a Hamas led government.
Qatar is member of ABEDA, AFESD, AL, AMF, ESCWA, FAO, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDB, IFAD, IFRCS, IHO (pending member), ILO, IMF, International Maritime Organization, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITU, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, OPCW, OPEC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO, WTO
On October 10, 2005, for the first time, Qatar was elected to a two-year term on the UN Security Council for 2006-2007.