The reach of the British Empire diminished after the Second
World War, especially following Indian independence in 1947.
Pressure for a British withdrawal from the Arab emirates in
the Gulf increased during the 1950s, and the British welcomed
Kuwait's declaration of independence in 1961. When Britain
officially announced in 1968 that it would disengage politically,
though not economically, from the Gulf in three years' time,
Qatar joined Bahrain and seven other Trucial States in a federation.
Regional disputes however, quickly compelled Qatar to resign
and declare independence from the coalition that would evolve
into the seven-emirate United Arab Emirates. On September
3, 1971, Qatar became an independent sovereign state.
Qatar's national income primarily derives from oil and natural
gas exports. The country has oil estimated at 15 billion barrels
(2.4 km³), while gas reserves in the giant north field
(South Pars for Iran) which straddles the border with Iran
and are almost as large as the peninsula itself are estimated
to be between 800–900tcf (Trillion Cubic Feet - 1tcf
is equal to around 80 million barrels of oil equivalent).
Qataris' wealth and standard of living compare well with those
of Western European states; Qatar has one of the highest GDP
per capita in the Arab World.[dubious – discuss] With
no income tax, Qatar is also one of the two least-taxed sovereign
states in the world (the other is Bahrain).
While oil and gas will probably remain the backbone of Qatar's
economy for some time to come, the country seeks to stimulate
the private sector and develop a "knowledge economy".
In 2004, it established the Qatar Science & Technology
Park to attract and serve technology-based companies and entrepreneurs,
from overseas and within Qatar. Qatar also established Education
City, which consists of international colleges. For the 15th
Asian Games in Doha, it established Sports City, consisting
of Khalifa stadium, the Aspire Sports Academy, aquatic centres,
exhibition centres and many other sports related buildings
and centres. Qatar also plans to build an "entertainment
city" in the future.
Qatar is aiming to become a role model for economic and social
transformation in the region. Large scale investment in all
social and economic sectors will also lead to the development
of a strong financial market.
In 2004, the country had a total population of approximately
1,000,000(in 2007), of whom approximately 200,000 were believed
to be citizens. Of the citizen population, Shi'a Muslims
account for approximately 10 percent and Sunni Muslims comprise
the remaining 90 percent. The majority of the estimated 800,000
non-citizens are individuals from South and South East Asian
and Arab countries
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