Status: Absolute Monarchy
Population: 2,479,995 (2021 est.)
Area: 4473 sq. miles
Currency: 100 Dirhams=1 Qatari Rial (since 1973). 1 Qatari Rial=U.S. 27¢
Qatar occupies a peninsula slightly smaller than Connecticut on the southern coast of the Persian Gulf. Only a little more than ten percent of its resident population is Qatari citizens. The remainder are expatriates working largely in the petroleum or service industries. About half of the citizens are members of the Al Thani family, which has ruled the country since 1825.
Qatar was, at least nominally, part of the Ottoman Empire from 1871 until August 1915. With the outbreak of World War I, the British navy forced the Ottoman military to leave. Qatar effectively became a British protectorate on November 3, 1916, when the sheikh signed an agreement with the British under which London agreed to protect the Sheikdom from attack. In exchange, the sheikh agreed not to establish relations with another country without prior British approval.
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The discovery of oil in 1940 and its commercial exploitation, which began in December 1949, dramatically changed Qatar’s culture and restructured its economy. Today, Qatar possesses one of the world’s largest natural gas reserves and enjoys the world’s sixth highest per capita GDP.
In 1950, Doha, the capital and only town, had fewer than 20,000 inhabitants. Prior to that there had been little need for postal services. Foreigners made their own arrangements for correspondence. Many Europeans sent their mail to Bahrain for onward transmission by the British Postal Agency.
With the influx of British expatriates drawn to the country by the rapidly developing oil industry, the need for postal services also grew. On May 18, 1950, the British Political Officer established the first post office in Doha to service the needs of the British residents. His office collected the mail and sent it to Bahrain for onward posting. For a short time, his office applied a Doha circular datestamp (CDS) to mail it received. Soon, mail originating in Doha was canceled after it arrived in Bahrain. In August 1950, the post office was administratively separated from the British Political Agency and opened to the general public. At that time it began using the so-called “value only” stamps – British stamps overprinted with Indian currency for use by the British Postal Agencies in Eastern Arabia. These covers once again received the Doha CDS.
On February 1, 1956, a second post office was opened at Umm al Said, the oil terminal on the eastern coast. This office had its own CDS.
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On April 1, 1957, the “value only” stamps were replaced by current British definitives overprinted “Qatar” in London with a value in Indian currency (100 naye paisa = 1 Rupee). In 1961 a set of eleven definitives depicting Sheikh al-Thani were released.
In 1968, the British announced its intention to withdraw from military commitments east of Suez. On September 3, the "special treaty arrangements" were abrogated by agreement between the British government and the Sheikh. Qatar effectively became independent. While this event was not marked by a special stamp issue, stamps appearing after December 6 were inscribed “State of Qatar” instead of simply “Qatar.” That country name has continued to the present.
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