This report provides an overview of Qatar from the perspective of
commercially available resources. Qatar (KUHT uhr or KAH tahr or GAH
tahr) is a small Arab country in southwestern Asia. It occupies a peninsula
that goes from eastern Arabia into the Persian Gulf.
Qatar, a middle- eastern country, is a peninsula bordering the Persian Gulf and
Saudi Arabia. In size it is slightly smaller than Connecticut. The climate is arid
with mild pleasant winters and hot humid summers. The terrain is mostly flat and
barren desert covered with loose sand and gravel. Natural hazards include haze
and dust storms. Sand storms are common. Naturally occurring fresh water
resources are limited, creating significant dependence on large-scale
desalination facilities. Qatar represents a strategic location in the central Persian
Gulf near major petroleum deposits. Other natural resources include natural gas
and fish. The capital of Qatar is Doha. Other populated cities include Umm
Said, Al Khor, Dukhan and Ruwais. Qatar has an estimated population of
863,051 (July 2005 estimate from the CIA fact book). Up to 80% of the
population is foreign workers. The overall ethnic mix is 40% Arab, 18%
Pakistani, 18% Indian, 10% Iranian and 14% other. The state religion is Islam.
Arabic is the official language but English is widely spoken. Depending on the
source, literacy rate ranges from about 79% to 85%.
Qatar is a traditional monarchy. Its Chief of State is the Amir Sheikh Hamad bin
Khalifa al Thani who came to power in 1995 after ousting his father in a bloodless
coup. He also holds the positions of minister of Defense and Commander-in-
Chief of the Armed Forces. Qatar is a fully centralized government. It is
administratively divided into 10 municipalities. There was a provisional
constitution enacted 19 April 1972, but effective June 2004 the new government
constitution took effect. Approximately 97% of the population approved the
constitution in an April 2003 referendum. The right to rule Qatar is passed on
within the Al Thani family. Politically the country is evolving from a traditional
society into a modern welfare state. Government departments have been
established to meet the requirements of social and economic progress. The
Basic Law of 1970 institutionalized local customs rooted in Qatar’s conservative
Wahhabi heritage granting the Emir preeminent power. There is no electoral
system and political parties are banned.
Qatar maintains a modest military force of approximately 11,800 men making up
the Qatari Amiri Land Force, A Qatari Amiri Navy and Qatari Amiri Air Force. In
1994 Qatar signed a defense agreement with France acquiring several Mirage
2000-5 aircraft. It has recently signed defense pacts with the United States and
United Kingdom. Qatar plays an active role in the collective defense roles of the
Gulf Cooperation Council along with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, United Arab
Emirates and Oman. The CIA estimates approximately 205,000 men aged 18 to
49 are fit for service.
Oil is the cornerstone of Qatar’s economy, accounting for more than 55% of the
GDP, roughly 85% of export earnings and 70% of government earnings. Oil has
given Qatar a per capita GPD comparable to that of a leading Western European
Industrialized nation. Oil fields are projected to be largely depleted by 2023.
Production and export of natural gas is increasingly becoming important to
Qatar’s economy. Qatar’s heavy industrial projects, all based in Umm Said,
include a refinery, Fertilizer plant, steel plant, and petrochemical plant. The
United States is the major equipment supplier for Qatar’s Oil and Gas industry.
Qatar is pursuing a vigorous program of “Qatarization” under which all joint
venture industries and government departments are striving to move Qatari
nationals into positions of greater authority.
Qatar has approximately 1,500 kilometers of road, including about 1000
kilometers of paved road. Most paved highways are centered in the Doha area
or radiate from the capital to the northern end of the peninsula, to Dukham on the
west coast or southwest to the border of Saudi Arabia to connect with the Saudi
highway system. Outside the capital and the principle highways, large stretches
of country are accessible only by vehicles equipped with four-wheel drive.
Facilities for air and water transportation are located in or near the capital. Doha
is the main port, having four berths capable of handling ships up to nine meters
in draught and five additional berths that can accommodate ships having a
draught requirement up to 7.5 meters. Doha International Airport has a 4,500
meter runway which can accommodate all types of aircraft.
Domestic and international telecommunications are excellent. Radio-relay and
submarine cables link Qatar with all the Arab states around the Persian Gulf.
Three satellite ground stations provide excellent international telephone and data
links and live television broadcasts. Seven AM and three FM radio stations have
programs in Arabic, French, Urdu and English. A powerful shortwave station with
broadcasts in Arabic and English is heard worldwide.
Qatar has a tight-knit social system similar to other Persian Gulf nations. Visitors
should make careful effort to adhere to local customs and courtesies so as to not
offend the host nation. Some do’s in the Qatari social system include shake
hands and be friendly, accept tea and other beverage when offered, follow
conversation carefully and travel in a group. At the same time, avoid “suggestive
clothing”, do not show the bottom of the foot to someone, and never use your left
hand, and refrain from public acts of disrespect.
Supplies (Commodities) and Services
Qatar’s economy is dependant on the sale of oil and natural gas. Since the
1950's, the government has earned much income from oil exports and used it to
develop Qatar. Oil is the number one producer for exporting. There are
recoverable oil reserves of 15.2 barrels. Crude oil has gravities in the 24 o-40
API range. The government owns and operates the oil wells and refineries; flour
mills; a fishing fleet; and plants that produce fertilizers, cement, steel,
petrochemicals, and plastics. Fertilizers are Qatar's second most important
export. Qatar produces enough vegetables for its people, but must import much
meat and other food, and most manufactured goods. The government aids grain
and fruit cultivation by distributing free seeds and insecticides. Qatar’s rapid
growth in population over the past several years indicates that the nation may be
rapidly reaching its capacity to provide services; however, much of the rise in
population has been due to an influx of service workers. (CIA fact book on the
CIA Web Page) The Army Contracting Agency has established a Directorate of
Contracting in Doha to support the US Forces in the region. This joint
organization has established contracts for most of the services we will require,
but we must provide funding to use these instruments. (Qatar Contracting
Command briefing) The Qatar Electric & Water was formerly a government
organization and was only privatized in 2002. The government has added
significant water desalinization capability over the past ten years and is currently
operating at less than 75% of capacity. (Department of Energy Web Page)
Type of Service Contractor $ to Date
Laundry NIGP/QIT $ 438K
Water Gulfa, Al Rayyan, Al Manhal $ 425K
Ice NIGP, LaNouvelle $ 5K
Sewing NIGP $ 18K
Medical American Hosp; Doha Clinic $ 50K
Dental Family Dental; Dr. Sarah &Debbie $ 100K
Optical Qatar Optics $ 50K
Express Mail FedEx; DHL; UPS; Nat’l Air Cargo $ 530K
Communication (Cell Phones) Q-Tel $ 320K
Transportation / Heavy Equip QTTC $ 1M
Hazardous Waste Boom Waste $ 180K
Electrical/Water Qatar Electric & Water $ 50K
Office Supplies NIGP/GLS $ 208K
R&R Venture Gulf/Sahara Tours $ 65k
Vehicle Maintenance Jaidah Motors $ 22K
Security Fencing TradeQuip $8.1M
Asphalt Paving / Sidewalks TradeQuip $1.2M
Copiers Darwish $1.8M
Texas Barriers GSCS $1.3M
Cable TV Nova-Tech $800K
Local Vendor Base
A. The local vendor base is narrow in many respects. One such example
is that local business practices call for companies to be “sponsored”;
therefore a large company may have numerous small branches.
However, many of the independent “mom and pop” ventures do not have
the capital for large projects. Therefore, many of the larger solicitations
and contracts are spread between a limited number of companies that
were capable of fulfilling the contract requirements. Prices are competitive
between sources but finding capable and qualified sources sometimes
proved difficult. Another concern was shortages of supply and limited
stock. The majority of items could be supplied locally, but in small
quantities. In order to fill requirements, it may be necessary to purchase
small quantities through several different vendors. Repeat purchases of
like items may not always be possible through the same vendor since
stock would deplete. There are no local distribution warehouses for many
of the items. There were a lot of sources in Doha, Qatar and in locations
surrounding Doha. Many of the vendors formerly based around Prince
Sultan AB, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia relocated to Doha, which increased
the vendor base that was initially in Doha. Great quantities of supplies are
not available at present; however, the booming market is changing at a
rapid pace. Sources are available in the local area that can fill just about
any requirement. It is often beneficial for the CCO to utilize so-called “ten
percenters” to purchase merchandise. This allows the Contracting Officer
to minimize time spent locating sources, limit communication issues, travel
time, and method of purchase issues encountered when trying to source
out goods from small shops.
Real Property and Facilities
Other than a couple of small sections set aside for foreign ownership, real
property ownership in Qatar is limited to citizens. There are adequate facilities
available at a reasonable price within the major cities, but it is non-existent
outside the built-up areas. There is ample property and facilities available for
rent near the major existing military facilities, but the first priority may be to
attempt adding capabilities within the existing compounds to take advantage of
the existing security systems.
Significant Business Practices
Local businesses generally open at 0800, close at 1200, reopen at 1600 hours,
and remain open until 2000 to 2200 hours. The Qatar population is 95% Muslim
and the Qatar calendar is focused around Arabic holidays including Ramadan.
Ramadan occurs annually, but the period changes as it is based on the lunar
cycle. The following are Holidays observed throughout Qatar:
1 January - New Year's Day
6 August - H.H. Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan's Accession Day
2 December - National Day
Movable Public Holidays
Feb 22 - Islamic New Year
May 2 - Prophet's Birthday
Sep. 12 - Lailat al Miraj
Oct. 15 - Start of Ramadan (not a holiday)
Nov. 14 - Eid Al Fitr
Feb. 2 - Eid Al Adha
The typical work week begins on Saturday; government sections close on
Thursday and Friday and the public sector closes on Friday. The majority of
local vendors speak fluent English. Although language barriers are not an issue,
there are difficulties with metric versus U.S. standards of measurement. The
metric system is the standard system of measurement.
Gender plays a minimal role in business practices. Doha is an extremely
westernized city and the most vendors will not have difficulty dealing with
females in the male-oriented business society. The Muslim community is
referential based society and so the family heritage or tribe is often more
important than the rank. Within the Qatar military, this means that rank does not
always equate to experience.
The defense attaché is LCDR John Arnold, USN. His office is with the US
embassy located in Doha at 22 February Road, Al Luqta District, Doha, Qatar
mailing address: P.O. Box 23, Doha. Tel.: 974-488-4161; fax 4884150. The
embassy is open Sunday through Thursday (Qatar's workweek), but is closed for
both U.S. and Qatari holidays. The US Ambassador is Chase Untermeyer.
Ambassador Untermeyer served in the United States Navy during the Vietnam
War as a destroyer officer in the Pacific and as aide to the commander of U.S.
naval forces in the Philippines. (State Department Web Page)
Military Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements
Qatar has signed defense pacts with the U.S., U.K., and France. Qatari forces
played an important role in the first Gulf War, and Qatar has supported U.S.
military operations critical to the success of Operation Enduring Freedom and
Operation Iraqi Freedom. Qatar hosts CENTCOM Forward Headquarters. Qatar
is not a signatory to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations or to any other
bilateral or multilateral consular accord. (State Department Web Page) Qatar is
signatory to an alphabet of agreements, but does not actively participate in most.
(Qatar is member of ABEDA, AFESD, AMF, FAO, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD,
ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDB, IFAD, IFRCS, IHO (pending member), ILO, IMF, IMO,
Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAPEC, OAS (observer), OIC,
OPCW, OPEC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO,
WMO, WTO, and the WTOO.)
US Statutes, Public Laws, and Embargoes, Import Restrictions
Qatar enjoys “most favored nation” status with the United States and does not
have any embargos. (A copy of the agreement is available on the United States
Trade Representative web page listed below.) In January, Qatar lifted the last of
its bans on poultry and eggs from the United States. (US Department of
Agriculture web page) Qatar is a Muslim nation and the importation of pork
products or pornography is strictly prohibited. (ARCENT Web Page) Qatar is in
the CENTCOM AOR and the organizations there are tied directly to the war on
terror in Iraq; therefore, the simplified acquisition threshold (SAT) for
procurement is currently set at one million dollars. The Directorate of Contracting
in Qatar does not have a waiver for FAR part 5 publicity requirements. The
current list of open procurements is found at www.militarycontracting.com. (Army
Contracting Agency Southwest Asia command briefing dated March 2005.)
The United States Government has invested heavily in its partnership with Qatar.
Units located in Qatar include the US Central Command Forward Headquarters;
the US Special Operation Command- Central Command; the Army Central
Command – Qatar; the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit; the Army Material
Command – Southwest Asia; the 25th Signal Battalion; the National Imagery &
Mapping Agency; the Federal Bureau of Investigations; the Military Transport
Management Command; and 2nd Battlefield Control Detachment of the 1st
Military Intelligence Battalion. This significant presence ensures that there are
adequate supplies and services in the area, but also indicates that our task force
will not be the first in line to receive support. While we can establish independent
contracting efforts, we will be competing for vendors with the better established
and funded Central Command.
CIA Fact book. http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/qa.html
United States Trade Representative.
Department of Energy. http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/qatar.html#stats
AOL Country Page.
United States State Department.