The Pearl of the Middle East
by William Ryan
Qatar is changing, but is it for the better?
Qatar is among those countries that present conclusive archeological evidence of ancient human habitation. Artifacts and inscriptions show that human beings first lived on the Qatar Peninsula between 10,000 and 8,000 BC. Not until the 1st century, however, were nomadic tribes observed. Qatar's strategic location enabled early fishing villages to flourish and eventually gave rise to the country's famous pearl trading industry, which lasted until the collapse of the pearl market in the 1930s. Oil was discovered in 1939 and soon replaced fishing and pearling as the country's main revenue source.
The mid-18th century saw the birth of the Al-Thani dynasty, and the charismatic family remains in power to this day. Sheikh Mohammed bin Thani established the capital at Al-Bida and, to strengthen his position among competing tribal sheikhs, signed a treaty with the British in 1867. The British guaranteed Qatar's protection in exchange for the promise that the country would not deal with other foreign powers without British consent. This agreement lasted until 1971 when Britain relinquished power and withdrew from the Arabian Gulf. On September 3, 1971, Qatar officially gained independence.
The popular and charismatic Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani assumed power in a family coup in 1995, ushering in a new era of modernization, rapid development, and prosperity. His reforms include opening the country to tourism, encouraging education and training, and granting women permission to drive cars. The 2022 World Cup soccer tournament is set to be held in Doha, the capital city. This will be the first time that a major sporting event like this will be held in the Middle East.
卡达是呈现出有古代人类居住的确实考古证据的国家之一。手工艺品和碑文显示人类最早于公元前一万年到八千年之间居住在卡达半岛。然而，一直到公元一世纪，游牧民族才被注意到。卡达的战略位置使得其早期的渔村能够蓬勃发展，最终造就了该国知名的珍珠贸易产业，这项产业一直持续到珍珠市场于 1930 年代瓦解为止。人们于 1939 年发掘了石油，而石油很快地便取代了渔业和珍珠业成为该国的主要收入来源。
阿勒萨尼王朝于十八世纪中期诞生，这个深具魅力的家族直到今日都还在当权。谢赫‧穆罕默德‧本‧萨尼在阿尔比达建立了首都，为了巩固他在竞争激烈的众部落酋长之间的地位，他在 1867 年与英国签订了一项条约。英国保证会保护卡达，交换条件是卡达承诺该国不会在没有得到英国同意的情况下与其他国家交涉。这项合约持续到 1971 年，当时英国放弃了权力，并从阿拉伯湾撤出。1971 年的九月三日，卡达正式获得独立。
相当受欢迎而又充满魅力的谢赫‧哈迈德‧本‧哈利法‧阿勒萨尼在 1995 年的一场家族政变中取得了大权，并开创了一个现代化、快速发展以及繁荣的新时代。他的改革包括了开发该国的观光业、推动教育和训练，以及准许女人开车。2022 年的世界杯足球锦标赛预计将在该国首都杜哈举办。这将是中东地区首度举办类似的大型体育赛事。