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Sheikhdom in E Arabia, on a 100-mi-long peninsula on the Persian Gulf. Its capital is Doha, also known as Bida. Invaded by the Persians in 1783, the area was occupied by forces of the Ottoman Empire in 1871, which maintained some control until World War I. Qatar maintained treaty relations with Great Britain until it became independent in 1971. In 1972 the reigning emir, Ahmad ibn Ali al-Thani, was deposed by his cousin Khalifa ibn Hamad al-Thani. Qatar has had armed conflict with Bahrain over the Hawar Island s and gas fields in the Persian Gulf in 1986, and with Saudi Arabia in 1992 over their common border. During the Gulf War in 1991, international coalition forces were deployed on Qatari soil. Palestinians were expelled from Qatar in retaliation for the pro-Iraqi stance of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), but after the war relations with the Palestinians have returned to normal. After the Gulf War, Qatar signed a defense pact with the United States. In 1995, the emir was deposed by his son and heir, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.

Hamad eased press censorship and sought improved relations with Iran and Israel. In 1996, the Aljazeera news agency was launched in Qatar, and has become a force for a free press in the Arab world. Hamad democratized the nation’s government and instituted elections. In 2003, voters approved a constitution establishing a largely elected advisory council with the power to pass laws, subject to the emir’s approval. The new constitution also gives women the right to vote and hold office. The constitution came into force in 2004. The Al Udeid air base, in S central Qatar, has been used by the U.S. military since late 2001, and the U.S. Central Command established forward headquarters in Qatar prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Qatar offers a wealth of breathtaking beauty and a rich culture to its visitors from all over the world. You'll be spoilt for choice as you're confronted with myriad options of to what to do, what to see and what activity to pursue while you're there.

So, if you're touring Qatar for a short time, read our guide to some of the best places to visit in this small but stunning gulf country.

  1. Katara Mosque
    The beautifully architectured Katara Mosque is located in the midst of the site of the Katara Cultural Village, where you can spend time gazing upon some of the most wonderful architecture, seen anywhere in the entire Middle East. With an atypical mosque design, it is a building with a merged colour mosaic, with dominance of blue and splashes of red and yellow. The intricate designs on the walls and the interiors are all jaw-dropping-ly gorgeous.
  2. State Grand Mosque
    “Grand” is a perfectly apt description of this magnificent mosque. With an intimidating exterior and the looks of an impenetrable fortress, the architectural effect of the interiors is simply just awe-inspiring, with exquisite chandeliers, a domed ceiling and stone-white pillars.
    Visit the mosque at night for its purple lights which make for a mesmerising sight.
  3. The Doha Desert
    For an untouched look, the never-ending miles of smooth sand and the unspoiled beauty of the desert, visit the Doha desert for a unique experience. The rolling dunes and the flawlessness of the sand in this stunning desert landscape will make you feel small and in awe.
  4. Al Jassasiya Carvings
    The mysterious, hundreds of years old Al Jassasiya site, is easily one of the most intriguing locations in Qatar. The mystery resides in its carvings, the petroglyphs, which are intricate and incomprehensible. Believed to be signs of some kind, you can find shapes of animals, boats and daisies in these carvings. But there are many unrecognisable patterns which just add to its intrigue.

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