Since we last prayed for Qatar through “30 Days” in 1998 much has happened in the country for which we can give thanks.
For example, in May 2005, representatives of several Christian churches in the country signed an agreement with the Government of Qatar for a 50-year lease on a large piece of property in the capital Doha on which they intend to erect six churches at their own expense. Also the a new constitution explicitly provides for freedom of worship, of association and public assembly though there are some restrictions.
From Sand to Pearls to Oil
Qatar may be best known around the world as the home of Al-Jazeera, the controversial Arabic language satellite television news channel. For centuries Qatar was simply a peninsula of sand jutting into the Gulf of Arabia where the local Arabs were building ships and sustaining themselves through pearl hunting, fishing and weaving. Oil was discovered in Qatar in 1939. Presently oil and gas account for more than 55% of GDP, roughly 85% of export earnings, and 70% of government revenues. Qatar even has the potential to supply up to one third of the world’s natural gas resources transforming Qatar into one of the world’s richest countries. As much as 75% of the population is comprised of immigrant workers including Arabs, Iranians, Indians, Pakistanis, Europeans, Americans, Filipinos and others.
Qatar embraced Islam very early in the 7th century. Later Qatar maintained ties with the Ottoman Empire and the Khalifate. Today Qatar is highly influenced by the Wahhabi Islamic reform movement’s interpretations of Islamic law on a political and social level. Wahhabis believe their role as a movement is to restore Islam from what they perceive to be innovations, superstitions, deviances, heresies and idolatries. It is a Sunni movement very opposed to Shi’a tendencies.
Non-Muslims may not proselytise, and the government regulates the publication, importation, and distribution of non-Islamic religious books and materials. No foreign missionary groups can operate openly in the country. The number of Christians from all denominations and levels of commitment in the country is estimated at 8-9 percent, primarily foreign workers.
* The Al-Thani family has ruled Qatar since the mid-1800’s. Pray that the the leading members of the family would know how to wisely lead the nation. The Emir has 3 wives and 15 children.
* Pray for the church building project. There have been delays and some Muslim media have complained about the project. May the churches be refuges for many.
* Pray that nominalism, immoral and unspiritual behaviour would be greatly reduced in the Christian community. It will only be in this way that believers may gain respect in the Muslims and bring real blessing to the nation.
* Some Qataris and foreign workers are discovering Christ through the media and contacts with local believers. Pray for those who are discovering the risen Messiah as they grow in their faith.
About Qatar (World Factbook)
Ruled by the al-Thani family since the mid-1800s, Qatar transformed itself from a poor British protectorate noted mainly for pearling into an independent state with significant oil and natural gas revenues. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Qatari economy was crippled by a continuous siphoning off of petroleum revenues by the amir, who had ruled the country since 1972. His son, the current Amir HAMAD bin Khalifa al-Thani, overthrew him in a bloodless coup in 1995. In 2001, Qatar resolved its longstanding border disputes with both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Oil and natural gas revenues enable Qatar to have one of the highest per capita incomes in the world.
Economy of Qatar
Oil and gas account for more than 60% of GDP, roughly 85% of export earnings, and 70% of government revenues. Oil and gas have made Qatar one of the world’s faster growing and higher per-capita income countries – in 2006 per-capita income equaled that of the EU. Sustained high oil prices and increased natural gas exports in recent years have helped build Qatar’s budget and trade surpluses and foreign reserves. Proved oil reserves of more than 15 billion barrels should ensure continued output at current levels for 23 years. Qatar’s proved reserves of natural gas exceed 25 trillion cubic meters, more than 5% of the world total and third largest in the world. Qatar has permitted substantial foreign investment in the development of its gas fields during the last decade and is expected to become the world’s top liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter in 2007. Qatar is also trying to attract foreign investment in the development of its non-energy projects by further liberalizing the economy.
Statistics for Qatar
Population: 1,951,591 (July 2012 est.) World rank #147
Life Expectancy at Birth: 78.9 years. World rank #55
Ethnic Groups: Arab 40%, Indian 18%, Pakistani 18%, Iranian 10%, other 14%
Religions: Muslim 77.5%, Christian 8.5%, other 14%
Languages: Arabic (official), English commonly used as a second language
School life expectancy: 12 years
Modern Standard Arabic is a major language in Qatar, but also much Farsi is spoken. Listen to or download Farsi Gospel Recordings here …>>
“Qatar Rides the Oil boom – The Pearl – Video
While most countries are suffering from high oil prices, they are also fuelling one of the biggest transfers of wealth in history. A video with a difference.