Qatar

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Overview

Qatar is an oil-rich nation occupying a small peninsula in the Persian Gulf and boasts the highest per capita income of any country in the Middle East. Once a protectorate of Great Britain, Qatar’s first ruler was Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani, who laid the groundwork for his powerful family to rule for decades following World War I. The Qatar Petroleum Company was given a 75-year oil concession in 1935, however, World War II delayed the exploitation of this resource until 1949. Qatar’s economy thrived during the 1950s and 1960s, and this led to increased immigration and social progress. When Britain ended its treaty relationships with the gulf sheikdoms, they tried but ultimately failed to form a union of Arab emirates. Instead, Qatar declared its independence in 1972. Since then, Qatar has been ruled by a series of Amirs, most recently Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, who has announced his intention to move his nation toward democracy. This has occurred in small steps thus far, with the Qataris approving a new constitution that went into effect in June 2005. 

 
Qatar has also been involved in several controversies involving the US. One of them included the Qatar-funded Al-Jazeera that came under fire for broadcasting images of captured and killed US soldiers in Iraq. Another included Rudolph Giuliani being forced to resign from his consulting company over accusations that the company provided the Qatar government with security advice to a large natural-gas processing facility. Additionally, there was the possibility of a Middle Eastern arms race, in light of a July 2007 arms deal worth $20 billion to US allies in the Persian Gulf. Finally, the Qatari currency, long pegged to the US dollar, has undergone some instability since February 2008, when the Federal Reserve cut interest rates twice in eight days. This has caused Qatar’s already high inflation to rise even higher, and the country to consider linking its currency to a “basket” of other currencies, as Saudi Arabia has recently done.
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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: In southwest Asia, Qatar is a small peninsula (100 miles long and 35-50 miles wide), which juts northward into the Persian Gulf from the Saudi coast west of Abu Dhabi.

 
Population: 928,635
 
Religions: Muslim (both Sunni and Shi’a), 83.2%, Christian (Catholic, Eastern and Greek Orthodox, Anglican, Coptic) 9.9%, Hindu 2.5%, Buddhist 1.9%, Baha’i 0.2%, non-religious 2.3%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Arab 40%, Indian 18%, Pakistani 18%, Iranian 10%, other 14%.
 
Languages: Arabic (official), Gulf Arabic 12.3%, Western Farsi 8.7%.
 
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History

Humans have inhabited the Qatar Peninsula for 50,000 years, dating back to the Stone Age. Nomadic tribes wandered the peninsula for millennia, from Najd and Al Hasa regions in Saudi Arabia, with seasonal encampments around sources of water. Some were fishermen, or traded in precious pearls. Over time, they added to the population by importing slaves from East Africa.

 
During the Abbasid Era, from 750-1258, Murwab and other settlements became prominent. From 1517-1538, the Portuguese ruled Qatar, until they lost the territory in disputes with the Ottomans. In 1732, the Bani Utbah tribe migrated from Kuwait to Qatar’s northwest coast and founded Zubarah.
 
Zubarah became one of Qatar’s thriving centers of trade, which brought it to the attention of the Persians and the Omanis. At this time the city’s major source of wealth was the extensive number of oysters and pearls found in its waters. In 1782, war broke out between the Zubara-based Al Bin Ali trading clan of the Bani Utbah tribe and the Madhkurs. The Bani Utabah helped to liberate Qatar in 1783, and become a self-governed tribe.
 
Fourteen years later, the Al Khalifa migrated to the more desirable location of Bahrain in 1797. There, they established a sheikdom that has survived to this day. During the remainder of the 18th century and into the 19th century, Qatar was involved in numerous bloody conflicts with neighboring states, including the Omanis, Iranians and Ottomans.
 
At the same time, British power was increasing in the Persian Gulf, as the British sought a secure path for their ships in and out of India. The General Treaty of Peace of 1820 between the East India Company and the sheikhs of the coastal area—which became known as the Trucial Coast because of the series of treaties between the sheikhs and the British—was a way of ensuring safe passage. This measure was supposed to end piracy and the kidnapping of slaves, but the practice continued, and an East India Company ship destroyed the town of Doha, Qatar’s capital city, in 1821 as punishment.
 
In 1867, forces from Bahrain attacked Doha and other cities, leading to British colonial agent Colonel Lewis Pelly to impose a settlement in 1868. The resulting treaty was unique in that it recognized Bahrain as separate from Qatar. However, this did not stop the Ottomans, who were expanding their empire at the time. In 1871, the Ottomans took over Qatar, and the sheikhs recognized its sovereignty in 1872. Ottoman rule ended at the turn of the century when the resurgent Wahhabis, under Abd al Aziz ibn Saud, took the country back.
 
Skirmishes between the Ottomans and the Qataris continued until World War I, when the British recognized Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani as ruler of Qatar. A treaty signed during that time gave Qatar the right to dispose of any territory, but only to the British. Also, Qatar could not enter into any relationships with any other foreign governments without British consent. In return, Britain protected Qatar from any and all aggression by sea. Another treaty in 1934 bolstered this security alliance.
 
In 1935, a 75-year oil concession was granted to the Qatar Petroleum Company, a subsidiary of the Iraq Petroleum Company, which in turn was owned by Anglo-Dutch, French and US interests. Oil was officially discovered in 1940 at Dukhan, on the western side of the Qatari Peninsula. But World War II delayed any major exploitation of these oil resources until 1949.
 
During the 1950s and 1960s, Qatar’s economy thrived, and the country saw increased immigration and substantial social progress. When Britain announced a policy in 1968 (reaffirmed in March 1971) ending the treaty relationships with the Gulf sheikdoms, Qatar joined the other eight states then under British protection, including Bahrain, in a plan to form a union of Arab emirates.
 
But by mid-1971, when the termination date was approaching, the nine states could not agree on the terms of their union. Qatar then declared independence on September 3, 1971. In February 1972, the heir apparent, Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad, deposed his cousin, Amir Ahmad, and assumed power.
 
On June 27, 1995, the Deputy Amir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, deposed his father, Amir Khalifa, in a bloodless coup. An unsuccessful counter-coup was staged in 1996. The Amir and his father later reconciled, though some supporters of the counter-coup remain in prison.
 
Recently, the Amir has announced his intention for Qatar to move toward democracy. Small changes have occurred, such as a freer press and allowance of municipal elections, which are expected to be the precursors of parliamentary elections. Al-Jazeera, the Arab world’s first all-news Network, was started by the Qatari monarchy. Female suffrage was enacted through a referendum to voters in 2003. In April 2003, Qatari citizens approved a new constitution, which came into force in June 2005.
Qatar History (Qatar News Agency)
History of Qatar (Wikipedia)
History of Qatar (Amiri Diwan)
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Qatar's Newspapers
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History of U.S. Relations with Qatar

Diplomatic relations between Qatar and the United States began in 1971, and the US embassy opened in March 1973. The first ambassador arrived in July 1974, and since that time, the two nations have enjoyed warm bilateral relations and cooperation on a number of trading and other measures.

 
In 1992, Qatar and the United States concluded a Defense Cooperation Agreement that has been progressively expanded. In April 2003 U.S. Combat Air Operations Center for the Middle East was moved from Saudi Arabia to Qatar to assist American military operations for the Iraq war. The base now serves as a hub for U.S. military operations in Afghanistan. In 2008, approximately 5,000-6,500 American military personnel and civilian contractors were stationed at the Qatar airbase.
 
Qatar now hosts the forward headquarters of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), a theater-level Unified Combatant Command unit of the US armed forces, at Camp As Sayliyah. CENTCOM oversees all American military operations in the Middle East. Camp As Sayliyah is the largest pre-positioning facility of US equipment in the world, and it served as the forward command center for CENTCOM personnel during the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
 
There have been questions regarding Qatari support for Al-Qaeda and according to the 9/11 Commission Report, Qatar’s current Interior Minister provided safe haven for 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed during the mid-1990s. Additionally, press reports note that other terrorists may have received financial support or safe haven from Qatar since September 11, 2001.
 
Qatar: Background and U.S. Relations (by Jeremy Sharp, Congressional Research Service, 2008)
 
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Current U.S. Relations with Qatar

In April 2003, the Bush Administration announced that the US Combat Air Operations Center for the Middle East would be moved from Prince Sultan Airbase in Saudi Arabia to Qatar’s

Al-Udeid airbase, which served as a logistics hub for US operations in Afghanistan under Operation Enduring Freedom, as well as a key center for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
 
Qatar also has assisted the United States in the war on terrorism by stepping up its efforts to prevent Al Qaeda from engaging in money laundering.
 
President Bush visited Qatar in 2003, and Amir Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani last visited Washington in 2004.
 
Hundreds of Qataris study in the United States. Qatar has supported the expansion of American universities in its “Education City,” including Virginia Commonwealth University School of Arts in Qatar, Weill Cornell Medical college in Qatar, Texas A&M University at Qatar, Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar, and Northwestern University.
 
In the 2000 US census, 1,189,731 people identified themselves as being of Arab ancestry (there is no category for Qatari), though scholars estimate there may be over 3 million ethnic Arabs in America. Traditional fear of governmental abuse of personal information has led many Arabs to conceal their ethnicity. Over a third of the Arab population in America lives in New York, Detroit, and Los Angeles. 
 
In 2006, 5,650 Qataris visited the US. There has been significant growth in Qatari tourism to the US, with overall number of tourists up from 2,842 in 2002. 
 
Qatar: Background and U.S. Relations (by Jeremy Sharp, Congressional Research Service, 2008)
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Where Does the Money Flow

Trade between the United States and Qatar is quite lopsided. The US exported $2.7 billion in 2008 to Qatar, while importing only $484 million.

 
Top US exports to Qatar from 2004-2008 included civilian aircraft, increasing from $38.6 million to $668.4 million; passenger cars, rising from $62.6 million to $288.8 million; industrial engines, increasing from $37.7 million to $255.6 million; industrial machines, up from $20.9 million to $220.6 million; and drilling and oilfield equipment rising from $68.5 million to 135.2 million.
 
American imports from Qatar from 2004 to 2008 included fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides, increasing from $92.1 million to $259.6 million; and industrial organic chemicals, moving up from $5.8 million to $20.8 million;.
 
US imports on the decline included natural gas, which decreased from $72.1 million to $35.9; liquified petroleum gas, moving down from $17.6 million to $7,000; apparel and household goods (cotton), falling from $62.6 million to $1,000; and apparel and household goods (textiles), decreasing from $1.7 million to $3,000.
 
With the third largest proven gas reserves in the world, US companies, such as ExxonMobil, have worked to increase trade and economic ties with Qatar.
 
The US sold $143 million in defense articles and services to Qatar in 2007. That same year, the US gave $1.1 million in aid to Qatar, which was wholly dedicated to Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining, and Related Programs. 
 
The 2008 budget decreased aid to $282,000, divided between Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining, and Related Programs ($268,000), and International Military Education and Training ($14,000). 
 
The 2009 budget decreased aid even further, to $15,000, which will fund International Military Education and Training. Although military relations between the US and Qatar are extremely close, competing regional concerns have forced budgetary reductions.
 
Qatar (BUYUSA.gov)                    
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Controversies

Qatar Currency Issue Raises Questions, Inflation

In February 2008, CNN reported that inflation in Qatar, combined with the pegging of the Qatari currency (the riyal) with the US dollar, had Qatari officials worried. Though Qatar’s economy grew 17.8% in 2007, it has also had high levels of government spending, and a growing demand for housing, which was also pushing prices higher. When the US Federal Reserve slashed interest rates twice in the latter half of January 2008, Gulf States with currencies tied to the US dollar were under pressure to follow suit. This meant that Qatar faced a serious problem when it came to further inflation. Kuwait recently changed its mind, ditching the dollar-peg for a combination of additional currencies. Many analysts speculated that other Gulf States would do the same. Saudi Arabia said that it would not change from the dollar peg, and Qatar said that it would not make any moves without the consensus of other Gulf States.
Qatar’s inflation headache (Hilary Whiteman, CNN)
 
Giuliani Forced to Resign Over Qatar Deal
In December 2007, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani stepped down as chairman of his consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, after accusations of conflicts of interest arose as he ran his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. The Wall Street Journal reported that a subsidiary of the firm called Giuliani Safety and Security recently provided the Qatar government with security advice to a large natural-gas processing facility in the Persian Gulf country. Giuliani has said that his doings with the company were legal and above-board, but critics have said that his campaign needed to be more transparent overall. At the time the news broke, he was in third place among GOP contenders, trailing Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney.
 
Middle East Arms Deal Raises Controversy
In July 2007, the conflict between the US and Iran was intensified when the Bush Administration announced a controversial $20 billion arms sale over the next five years to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. This is seen as a move to counter threats from Iran. Critics have said that the move is likely to spark an arms race in the region.
 
Qatari Al-Jazeera Under Fire for Images of US Soldiers
In March 2003, shortly after the US-led invasion of Iraq, Qatar-based news outlet Al-Jazeera came under fire for broadcasting images of captured and killed US soldiers. This was in violation of the Geneva Conventions that barred efforts to humiliate captured troops. Al-Jazeera is a joint venture between Qatar and the BBC. It has approximately 140,000 satellite subscribers in the US. Some critics have accused the news network of becoming a mouthpiece for Osama bin Laden and other radical Muslim leaders.
Video has Channel Back in Spotlight (Rob Hiaasen, Orlando Sentinel)
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Human Rights

The State Department reports that while there were allegations of police abuse against incarcerated suspects during interrogations to elicit confessions, no cases were investigated during 2007. Documentation of abuses was very limited, due partly to hesitancy by alleged victims to make public claims of torture or abuse.

 
According to the State Department, “journalists and publishers continued to self-censor due to political and economic pressures when reporting on government policies, material deemed hostile to Islam, the ruling family, and relations with neighboring states.” In addition, “there were reports that security authorities threatened both individuals and organizations against publishing certain articles. While the seven daily newspapers are not state-owned, owners are members of the ruling family or have close ties to government officials. Foreign newspapers and magazines were reviewed and censored for objectionable sexual, religious, and political content.”
 
In 2007, several Qatari writers whose work appeared in regional and international media outside of Qatar reported that their work was deliberately banned from appearing in the local press. Although authorities apparently lifted these bans during the year. according to the State Department “the censorship office in the Qatar Radio and Television Corporation and customs officials censored material. There were no specific reports of political censorship of foreign broadcast news media or foreign programs, although foreign movies were censored. State-owned television and radio reflected government views.”
 
The State Department also noted that in 2008, “the government restricted the peaceful expression of views via the Internet and censored the Internet for political, religious, and pornographic content through a proxy server, which monitored and blocked Web sites, e-mail, and chat rooms through the state-owned Internet service provider (ISP).”
 
The law provides for, but regulates, freedom of assembly by requiring a permit for public gatherings. A number of restrictions and conditions must be met in order to acquire a permit, for example, the permission of the director general of public security, whose decision is not subject to appeal. In practice the government generally does not allow political demonstrations.
 
The government continued to prohibit proselytizing of Muslims by non-Muslims and placed some restrictions on public worship.
 
Under a 2003 law for Protection of State Security, the government prevented some citizens from foreign travel. Men may prevent adult female family members from leaving the country via court order, but no cases of women over the age of 18 being prevented from traveling abroad was reported. Citizen employment sponsors frequently confiscated the passports of their expatriate workers. In addition, expatriate workers could not travel outside of the country without their sponsor’s permission and an exit visa.
 
According to the State Department, “Qatar is not a party to the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 protocol, and the government has not established a system for providing protection or status to refugees. There were no reports that the government closed its borders to asylum seekers. Individuals who were able to obtain local sponsorship or employment were allowed to enter and could remain as long as they were sponsored.”
 
The constitution does not provide citizens the right to change their government peacefully. However, votes by the Advisory Council may significantly influence the ministries by the cast of votes of no confidence. The constitution provides for hereditary rule by the emir’s branch of the Al-Thani family. The constitutional provision for legislative authority vested in an advisory council with 30 elected members and 15 members appointed by the emir has not yet been implemented. The influence of Bedouin tribal traditions was still strong, and the government did not permit political parties or opposition groups to organize.
 
Many foreign domestic servants were sexually harassed and mistreated. Most domestic servants did not press charges for fear of losing their jobs.
 
Domestic violence against women was a problem. The law criminalizes domestic violence and rape, however it does not address spousal rape. The legal system allows leniency for a man found guilty of committing a “crime of honor,” or a violent assault against a woman for perceived immodesty or deviant behavior.
 
The State Department reported in 2008, “traditions and the interpretation of Shari’a restricted activities of women. The government adhered to an interpretation of Shari’a that recognizes that Muslims have the automatic right to inherit from their Muslim spouses. Non-Muslim spouses (invariably wives, since Muslim women cannot legally marry non-Muslims) do not inherit unless their spouse formally wills them a portion (up to one-third of the total) of their estates. Similarly a Muslim husband does not automatically inherit the property of a non-Muslim wife. Muslim wives have the right to inherit from their husbands. The proportion that women inherit depends upon their relationship to the deceased; however, in the cases of siblings, sisters inherit only one-half as much as their brothers.”
 
The State Department recorded that “there was no social pattern for child labor or abuse. There were also some cases of children who had suffered from various forms of family violence and physical and sexual abuse.”
 
The State Department also noted in 2008 “there is no specific antitrafficking law. In addition, provisions of the Sponsorship Law create conditions that could lead to forced labor activities and slave-like conditions. Although the law criminalizes slavery, forced labor, and forced prostitution, prosecutions have not occurred.”
 
The government discriminated based on nationality in the areas of employment, education, housing, and health services. Noncitizens did not receive the same benefits as citizens. They were required to pay for residence permits, health care, electricity, water, and education (services that were provided without charge to citizens). Noncitizens generally could not own property; however, the law provided for property ownership in three designated areas. The largest noncitizen groups were Indian, Nepalese, Sri Lankan, expatriate Arabs, Filipino, Bangladeshi, Iranian, Pakistani, and Indonesian.
 
Although born, raised and schooled in the country, noncitizen residents and Bidoons are afforded no more rights under the law than temporary migrant laborers. They were discriminated against in medical care, education, employment, and mobility.
 
According to the State Department, “although the labor law provides the emir with authority to set a minimum wage, he did not do so. The average wage of noncitizen workers did not provide a decent standard of living for a worker and family.”
 
The rights of foreign workers continued to be severely restricted. Some employers mistreated foreign domestic servants, predominantly those from South Asia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Such mistreatment generally involved the nonpayment or late payment of wages and in some cases involved rape and physical abuse.
 
During the year the embassies of India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka received a combined total of more than 15,000 complaints from male and female workers alleging mistreatment by their employers. Complaints included sexual harassment, delayed and nonpayment of salaries, forced labor, contract switching, holding of passports, poor accommodation, non-repatriation, physical torture or torment, overwork, imprisonment, and maltreatment.
 
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

 

Note: During Stoltzfus’ tenure as non-resident Ambassador, the Embassy in Doha was established on Feb 24, 1973, with John T. Wheelock as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.
 
William A. Stoltzfus, Jr.
Appointment: Dec 9, 1971
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 19, 1972
Termination of Mission: Appointment terminated, Aug 21, 1974
Note: Also accredited to Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates; resident at Kuwait.
 
Robert P. Paganelli
Appointment: Jun 20, 1974
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 22, 1974
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 13, 1977
 
Andrew Ivy Killgore
Appointment: Aug 3, 1977
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 29, 1977
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 29, 1980
 
Charles E. Marthinsen
Appointment: May 23, 1980
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 30, 1980
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 1, 1983
 
Charles Franklin Dunbar
Appointment: Oct 7, 1983
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 30, 1983
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 23, 1985
 
Joseph Ghougassian
Appointment: Dec 6, 1985
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 29, 1985
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 30, 1989
 
Mark Gregory Hambley
Appointment: Oct 10, 1989
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 30, 1989
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 15, 1992
 
Kenton Wesley Keith
Appointment: May 26, 1992
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 2, 1992
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 17, 1995
 
Patrick N. Theros
Appointment: Oct 3, 1995
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 12, 1995
Termination of Mission: Left post Nov 23, 1998
 
Elizabeth Davenport McKune
Appointment: Oct 1, 1998
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 6, 1998
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 20, 2001
 
Maureen Quinn
Appointment: Aug 7, 2001
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 24, 2001
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 12, 2004
 
Charles Graves Untermeyer
Appointment: Aug 2, 2004
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 7, 2004
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 19, 2007
 
Joseph Evan LeBaron
Appointment: July 18, 2008
Presentation of Credentials:
Termination of Mission:
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Qatar's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Al Kuwari, Mohammed Jaham Abdulaziz

 

Mohammed Jaham Abdulaziz Al Kuwari was appointed as Qatar’s ambassador to the United States in December, 2013. It’s the second ambassadorial posting for Al Kuwari.

 

Al Kuwari was born May 20, 1958, one of 13 children of parents who could not read or write. Gaining a scholarship, he attended college in the United States, at the University of Portland in Oregon, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 1980. He joined Qatar’s foreign service the following year, with his first posting coming in Washington, D.C.

 

Al Kuwari remained in Washington until 1986, when he was sent to Qatar’s mission to Spain. During his time there, he earned a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Madrid in 1990.

 

He was brought home that year to be chief of the Information Department of the Cooperation Council to Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 1991, Al Kuwari was posted to the Qatari embassy in Tehran, Iran, where he remained until 1992.

 

Al Kuwari began a long stint home in 1993, first as deputy head of cabinet, then in 1995 as director of European and American Affairs. Beginning in 1997, he worked in Diplomatic Consular Services. Al Kuwari returned as director of European and American Affairs in 2001 and simultaneously was head of a Qatari delegation engaged in political and strategic dialogue with France.

 

He was posted to Paris as Qatar’s ambassador to France in 2003 and was also accredited to Switzerland and the Holy See (Vatican City). He served in that post for 10 years, and in 2007 added the posts of non-resident envoy to Portugal and Monaco to his portfolio.

 

Since his return to Washington, Al Kuwari has seen Qatar complete a deal to buy a Patriot missile defense system, 24 Apache helicopters and 500 Javelin anti-tank missiles from the United States for $11 billion. In addition, he has said he is hoping to complete contracts with American companies to work on some of Qatar’s many infrastructure projects to be built in the run-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

 

Al Kuwari is married and has five children; four girls and one boy. He speaks English, Spanish, French and Arabic.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

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Qatar's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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U.S. Ambassador to Qatar

Shell Smith, Dana
ambassador-image

 

On May 1, 2014, President Barack Obama nominated Dana Shell Smith to be the U.S. Ambassador to Qatar. If confirmed, it will be the first ambassadorial posting for the career Foreign Service officer.

 

Shell Smith joined the State Department at age 21, right after graduating from University of California San Diego with a degree in political science and Middle East studies in 1992. She was first assigned to the United States Information Agency (now the Bureau of International Information Programs). In 1993, Shell Smith went to Cairo to study Arabic at the American University there. She remained in Egypt, serving as the cultural affairs officer in the embassy there until 1996.

 

That year, Shell Smith was reassigned to the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv. While in there, she met the man who would become her husband, Diplomatic Security Service officer Ray Smith. In 1999, Shell Smith was moved to Jordan, where she was the spokesperson for the U.S. embassy in Amman.

 

In 2003, Shell Smith had her first posting outside the Middle East when she was assigned to be public affairs officer at the American Institute in Taiwan. The Institute serves as a de facto embassy in the nation with which the United States does not have formal diplomatic relations.

Shell Smith returned to Washington in 2006 to serve as the senior advisor to the director general of the Foreign Service. In 2009, she returned to the Middle East to work at the State Department media liaison office in Dubai. She was the designated representative to appear on Arab news programs to explain the U.S. position on various issues.

 

The year 2010 brought a return to Washington, first as deputy assistant secretary for Public Affairs, establishing an office of international social media engagement, pioneering the State Department’s use of Twitter in Arabic, then in May 2011 as principal deputy assistant secretary for Public Affairs.

 

Shell Smith raised some eyebrows outside the diplomatic world in 2012 when she wrote an article in The Atlantic that was a response to an earlier piece about life in government service entitled “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” In Shell Smith’s response, “How to Have an Insanely Demanding Job and 2 Happy Children,” she wrote that while she did make some sacrifices, she was in general able to balance a career with progressively more responsibility with raising her two sons. Predictably, Shell Smith drew a mixed response from the article, both from inside the Foreign Service and among the general public.

 

Shell Smith stirred more controversy with a response to another article written by colleagues. In 2013, Susan Johnson, president of the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post decrying what she and her two co-authors perceived as a breakdown in the Foreign Service system in favor of political appointees and regular civil service employees. Shell Smith and another Foreign Service officer circulated a letter expressing disagreement with the op-ed. In response, 11 former AFSA presidents asked the Senate Foreign Relations Committee not to approve Shell Smith’s nomination. However, the committee approved her appointment and sent it to the full Senate for consideration on June 24.

 

In addition to Arabic, Shell Smith speaks Spanish, Hebrew and Chinese. Her husband, Ray Smith, is an agent with the Diplomatic Security Service.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

Why is the State Department Tweeting in Arabic? A Conversation with Dana Shell Smith (by Jillian C. York)

Testimony Before Senate Foreign Relations Committee (pdf)

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Qatar

Ziadeh, Susan
ambassador-image

Susan L. Ziadeh was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to Qatar on September 12, 2011, for what is her eighth tour of duty in the Middle East.

 
The daughter of noted Palestinian-American scholar Farhat Ziadeh, Susan Ziadeh was born circa 1954 and grew up in Princeton, New Jersey, and Seattle, Washington. She earned a B.A. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Washington, an M.A. from the American University in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1978, and a PhD in Middle Eastern History from the University of Michigan in 1991. She also holds an M.S. in National Security Studies, which she obtained in 2004 from the National War College, National Defense University.
 
A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Ziadeh’s early postings included stints at the embassies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Kuwait City, Kuwait; and Amman, Jordan; and service as cultural officer and then vice-consul at the consulate in Jerusalem, Israel, in the mid-1990s. In Washington from 2001 to 2003, Ziadeh was responsible for the Jordan desk, and was acting Deputy Director of the Office for Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. From 2004 to 2007 she served as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Bahrain. From 2007 to 2009, she was the public affairs counselor and then Official Spokesperson at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. Ziadeh returned to Riyadh as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy from September 2009 to May 2011.
 
Outside of government, Ziadeh has served as national director of the Association of Arab-American University Graduates (AAUG).
 
Official Biography

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Overview

Qatar is an oil-rich nation occupying a small peninsula in the Persian Gulf and boasts the highest per capita income of any country in the Middle East. Once a protectorate of Great Britain, Qatar’s first ruler was Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani, who laid the groundwork for his powerful family to rule for decades following World War I. The Qatar Petroleum Company was given a 75-year oil concession in 1935, however, World War II delayed the exploitation of this resource until 1949. Qatar’s economy thrived during the 1950s and 1960s, and this led to increased immigration and social progress. When Britain ended its treaty relationships with the gulf sheikdoms, they tried but ultimately failed to form a union of Arab emirates. Instead, Qatar declared its independence in 1972. Since then, Qatar has been ruled by a series of Amirs, most recently Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, who has announced his intention to move his nation toward democracy. This has occurred in small steps thus far, with the Qataris approving a new constitution that went into effect in June 2005. 

 
Qatar has also been involved in several controversies involving the US. One of them included the Qatar-funded Al-Jazeera that came under fire for broadcasting images of captured and killed US soldiers in Iraq. Another included Rudolph Giuliani being forced to resign from his consulting company over accusations that the company provided the Qatar government with security advice to a large natural-gas processing facility. Additionally, there was the possibility of a Middle Eastern arms race, in light of a July 2007 arms deal worth $20 billion to US allies in the Persian Gulf. Finally, the Qatari currency, long pegged to the US dollar, has undergone some instability since February 2008, when the Federal Reserve cut interest rates twice in eight days. This has caused Qatar’s already high inflation to rise even higher, and the country to consider linking its currency to a “basket” of other currencies, as Saudi Arabia has recently done.
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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: In southwest Asia, Qatar is a small peninsula (100 miles long and 35-50 miles wide), which juts northward into the Persian Gulf from the Saudi coast west of Abu Dhabi.

 
Population: 928,635
 
Religions: Muslim (both Sunni and Shi’a), 83.2%, Christian (Catholic, Eastern and Greek Orthodox, Anglican, Coptic) 9.9%, Hindu 2.5%, Buddhist 1.9%, Baha’i 0.2%, non-religious 2.3%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Arab 40%, Indian 18%, Pakistani 18%, Iranian 10%, other 14%.
 
Languages: Arabic (official), Gulf Arabic 12.3%, Western Farsi 8.7%.
 
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History

Humans have inhabited the Qatar Peninsula for 50,000 years, dating back to the Stone Age. Nomadic tribes wandered the peninsula for millennia, from Najd and Al Hasa regions in Saudi Arabia, with seasonal encampments around sources of water. Some were fishermen, or traded in precious pearls. Over time, they added to the population by importing slaves from East Africa.

 
During the Abbasid Era, from 750-1258, Murwab and other settlements became prominent. From 1517-1538, the Portuguese ruled Qatar, until they lost the territory in disputes with the Ottomans. In 1732, the Bani Utbah tribe migrated from Kuwait to Qatar’s northwest coast and founded Zubarah.
 
Zubarah became one of Qatar’s thriving centers of trade, which brought it to the attention of the Persians and the Omanis. At this time the city’s major source of wealth was the extensive number of oysters and pearls found in its waters. In 1782, war broke out between the Zubara-based Al Bin Ali trading clan of the Bani Utbah tribe and the Madhkurs. The Bani Utabah helped to liberate Qatar in 1783, and become a self-governed tribe.
 
Fourteen years later, the Al Khalifa migrated to the more desirable location of Bahrain in 1797. There, they established a sheikdom that has survived to this day. During the remainder of the 18th century and into the 19th century, Qatar was involved in numerous bloody conflicts with neighboring states, including the Omanis, Iranians and Ottomans.
 
At the same time, British power was increasing in the Persian Gulf, as the British sought a secure path for their ships in and out of India. The General Treaty of Peace of 1820 between the East India Company and the sheikhs of the coastal area—which became known as the Trucial Coast because of the series of treaties between the sheikhs and the British—was a way of ensuring safe passage. This measure was supposed to end piracy and the kidnapping of slaves, but the practice continued, and an East India Company ship destroyed the town of Doha, Qatar’s capital city, in 1821 as punishment.
 
In 1867, forces from Bahrain attacked Doha and other cities, leading to British colonial agent Colonel Lewis Pelly to impose a settlement in 1868. The resulting treaty was unique in that it recognized Bahrain as separate from Qatar. However, this did not stop the Ottomans, who were expanding their empire at the time. In 1871, the Ottomans took over Qatar, and the sheikhs recognized its sovereignty in 1872. Ottoman rule ended at the turn of the century when the resurgent Wahhabis, under Abd al Aziz ibn Saud, took the country back.
 
Skirmishes between the Ottomans and the Qataris continued until World War I, when the British recognized Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani as ruler of Qatar. A treaty signed during that time gave Qatar the right to dispose of any territory, but only to the British. Also, Qatar could not enter into any relationships with any other foreign governments without British consent. In return, Britain protected Qatar from any and all aggression by sea. Another treaty in 1934 bolstered this security alliance.
 
In 1935, a 75-year oil concession was granted to the Qatar Petroleum Company, a subsidiary of the Iraq Petroleum Company, which in turn was owned by Anglo-Dutch, French and US interests. Oil was officially discovered in 1940 at Dukhan, on the western side of the Qatari Peninsula. But World War II delayed any major exploitation of these oil resources until 1949.
 
During the 1950s and 1960s, Qatar’s economy thrived, and the country saw increased immigration and substantial social progress. When Britain announced a policy in 1968 (reaffirmed in March 1971) ending the treaty relationships with the Gulf sheikdoms, Qatar joined the other eight states then under British protection, including Bahrain, in a plan to form a union of Arab emirates.
 
But by mid-1971, when the termination date was approaching, the nine states could not agree on the terms of their union. Qatar then declared independence on September 3, 1971. In February 1972, the heir apparent, Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad, deposed his cousin, Amir Ahmad, and assumed power.
 
On June 27, 1995, the Deputy Amir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, deposed his father, Amir Khalifa, in a bloodless coup. An unsuccessful counter-coup was staged in 1996. The Amir and his father later reconciled, though some supporters of the counter-coup remain in prison.
 
Recently, the Amir has announced his intention for Qatar to move toward democracy. Small changes have occurred, such as a freer press and allowance of municipal elections, which are expected to be the precursors of parliamentary elections. Al-Jazeera, the Arab world’s first all-news Network, was started by the Qatari monarchy. Female suffrage was enacted through a referendum to voters in 2003. In April 2003, Qatari citizens approved a new constitution, which came into force in June 2005.
Qatar History (Qatar News Agency)
History of Qatar (Wikipedia)
History of Qatar (Amiri Diwan)
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Qatar's Newspapers
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History of U.S. Relations with Qatar

Diplomatic relations between Qatar and the United States began in 1971, and the US embassy opened in March 1973. The first ambassador arrived in July 1974, and since that time, the two nations have enjoyed warm bilateral relations and cooperation on a number of trading and other measures.

 
In 1992, Qatar and the United States concluded a Defense Cooperation Agreement that has been progressively expanded. In April 2003 U.S. Combat Air Operations Center for the Middle East was moved from Saudi Arabia to Qatar to assist American military operations for the Iraq war. The base now serves as a hub for U.S. military operations in Afghanistan. In 2008, approximately 5,000-6,500 American military personnel and civilian contractors were stationed at the Qatar airbase.
 
Qatar now hosts the forward headquarters of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), a theater-level Unified Combatant Command unit of the US armed forces, at Camp As Sayliyah. CENTCOM oversees all American military operations in the Middle East. Camp As Sayliyah is the largest pre-positioning facility of US equipment in the world, and it served as the forward command center for CENTCOM personnel during the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
 
There have been questions regarding Qatari support for Al-Qaeda and according to the 9/11 Commission Report, Qatar’s current Interior Minister provided safe haven for 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed during the mid-1990s. Additionally, press reports note that other terrorists may have received financial support or safe haven from Qatar since September 11, 2001.
 
Qatar: Background and U.S. Relations (by Jeremy Sharp, Congressional Research Service, 2008)
 
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Current U.S. Relations with Qatar

In April 2003, the Bush Administration announced that the US Combat Air Operations Center for the Middle East would be moved from Prince Sultan Airbase in Saudi Arabia to Qatar’s

Al-Udeid airbase, which served as a logistics hub for US operations in Afghanistan under Operation Enduring Freedom, as well as a key center for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
 
Qatar also has assisted the United States in the war on terrorism by stepping up its efforts to prevent Al Qaeda from engaging in money laundering.
 
President Bush visited Qatar in 2003, and Amir Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani last visited Washington in 2004.
 
Hundreds of Qataris study in the United States. Qatar has supported the expansion of American universities in its “Education City,” including Virginia Commonwealth University School of Arts in Qatar, Weill Cornell Medical college in Qatar, Texas A&M University at Qatar, Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar, and Northwestern University.
 
In the 2000 US census, 1,189,731 people identified themselves as being of Arab ancestry (there is no category for Qatari), though scholars estimate there may be over 3 million ethnic Arabs in America. Traditional fear of governmental abuse of personal information has led many Arabs to conceal their ethnicity. Over a third of the Arab population in America lives in New York, Detroit, and Los Angeles. 
 
In 2006, 5,650 Qataris visited the US. There has been significant growth in Qatari tourism to the US, with overall number of tourists up from 2,842 in 2002. 
 
Qatar: Background and U.S. Relations (by Jeremy Sharp, Congressional Research Service, 2008)
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Where Does the Money Flow

Trade between the United States and Qatar is quite lopsided. The US exported $2.7 billion in 2008 to Qatar, while importing only $484 million.

 
Top US exports to Qatar from 2004-2008 included civilian aircraft, increasing from $38.6 million to $668.4 million; passenger cars, rising from $62.6 million to $288.8 million; industrial engines, increasing from $37.7 million to $255.6 million; industrial machines, up from $20.9 million to $220.6 million; and drilling and oilfield equipment rising from $68.5 million to 135.2 million.
 
American imports from Qatar from 2004 to 2008 included fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides, increasing from $92.1 million to $259.6 million; and industrial organic chemicals, moving up from $5.8 million to $20.8 million;.
 
US imports on the decline included natural gas, which decreased from $72.1 million to $35.9; liquified petroleum gas, moving down from $17.6 million to $7,000; apparel and household goods (cotton), falling from $62.6 million to $1,000; and apparel and household goods (textiles), decreasing from $1.7 million to $3,000.
 
With the third largest proven gas reserves in the world, US companies, such as ExxonMobil, have worked to increase trade and economic ties with Qatar.
 
The US sold $143 million in defense articles and services to Qatar in 2007. That same year, the US gave $1.1 million in aid to Qatar, which was wholly dedicated to Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining, and Related Programs. 
 
The 2008 budget decreased aid to $282,000, divided between Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining, and Related Programs ($268,000), and International Military Education and Training ($14,000). 
 
The 2009 budget decreased aid even further, to $15,000, which will fund International Military Education and Training. Although military relations between the US and Qatar are extremely close, competing regional concerns have forced budgetary reductions.
 
Qatar (BUYUSA.gov)                    
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Controversies

Qatar Currency Issue Raises Questions, Inflation

In February 2008, CNN reported that inflation in Qatar, combined with the pegging of the Qatari currency (the riyal) with the US dollar, had Qatari officials worried. Though Qatar’s economy grew 17.8% in 2007, it has also had high levels of government spending, and a growing demand for housing, which was also pushing prices higher. When the US Federal Reserve slashed interest rates twice in the latter half of January 2008, Gulf States with currencies tied to the US dollar were under pressure to follow suit. This meant that Qatar faced a serious problem when it came to further inflation. Kuwait recently changed its mind, ditching the dollar-peg for a combination of additional currencies. Many analysts speculated that other Gulf States would do the same. Saudi Arabia said that it would not change from the dollar peg, and Qatar said that it would not make any moves without the consensus of other Gulf States.
Qatar’s inflation headache (Hilary Whiteman, CNN)
 
Giuliani Forced to Resign Over Qatar Deal
In December 2007, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani stepped down as chairman of his consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, after accusations of conflicts of interest arose as he ran his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. The Wall Street Journal reported that a subsidiary of the firm called Giuliani Safety and Security recently provided the Qatar government with security advice to a large natural-gas processing facility in the Persian Gulf country. Giuliani has said that his doings with the company were legal and above-board, but critics have said that his campaign needed to be more transparent overall. At the time the news broke, he was in third place among GOP contenders, trailing Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney.
 
Middle East Arms Deal Raises Controversy
In July 2007, the conflict between the US and Iran was intensified when the Bush Administration announced a controversial $20 billion arms sale over the next five years to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. This is seen as a move to counter threats from Iran. Critics have said that the move is likely to spark an arms race in the region.
 
Qatari Al-Jazeera Under Fire for Images of US Soldiers
In March 2003, shortly after the US-led invasion of Iraq, Qatar-based news outlet Al-Jazeera came under fire for broadcasting images of captured and killed US soldiers. This was in violation of the Geneva Conventions that barred efforts to humiliate captured troops. Al-Jazeera is a joint venture between Qatar and the BBC. It has approximately 140,000 satellite subscribers in the US. Some critics have accused the news network of becoming a mouthpiece for Osama bin Laden and other radical Muslim leaders.
Video has Channel Back in Spotlight (Rob Hiaasen, Orlando Sentinel)
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Human Rights

The State Department reports that while there were allegations of police abuse against incarcerated suspects during interrogations to elicit confessions, no cases were investigated during 2007. Documentation of abuses was very limited, due partly to hesitancy by alleged victims to make public claims of torture or abuse.

 
According to the State Department, “journalists and publishers continued to self-censor due to political and economic pressures when reporting on government policies, material deemed hostile to Islam, the ruling family, and relations with neighboring states.” In addition, “there were reports that security authorities threatened both individuals and organizations against publishing certain articles. While the seven daily newspapers are not state-owned, owners are members of the ruling family or have close ties to government officials. Foreign newspapers and magazines were reviewed and censored for objectionable sexual, religious, and political content.”
 
In 2007, several Qatari writers whose work appeared in regional and international media outside of Qatar reported that their work was deliberately banned from appearing in the local press. Although authorities apparently lifted these bans during the year. according to the State Department “the censorship office in the Qatar Radio and Television Corporation and customs officials censored material. There were no specific reports of political censorship of foreign broadcast news media or foreign programs, although foreign movies were censored. State-owned television and radio reflected government views.”
 
The State Department also noted that in 2008, “the government restricted the peaceful expression of views via the Internet and censored the Internet for political, religious, and pornographic content through a proxy server, which monitored and blocked Web sites, e-mail, and chat rooms through the state-owned Internet service provider (ISP).”
 
The law provides for, but regulates, freedom of assembly by requiring a permit for public gatherings. A number of restrictions and conditions must be met in order to acquire a permit, for example, the permission of the director general of public security, whose decision is not subject to appeal. In practice the government generally does not allow political demonstrations.
 
The government continued to prohibit proselytizing of Muslims by non-Muslims and placed some restrictions on public worship.
 
Under a 2003 law for Protection of State Security, the government prevented some citizens from foreign travel. Men may prevent adult female family members from leaving the country via court order, but no cases of women over the age of 18 being prevented from traveling abroad was reported. Citizen employment sponsors frequently confiscated the passports of their expatriate workers. In addition, expatriate workers could not travel outside of the country without their sponsor’s permission and an exit visa.
 
According to the State Department, “Qatar is not a party to the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 protocol, and the government has not established a system for providing protection or status to refugees. There were no reports that the government closed its borders to asylum seekers. Individuals who were able to obtain local sponsorship or employment were allowed to enter and could remain as long as they were sponsored.”
 
The constitution does not provide citizens the right to change their government peacefully. However, votes by the Advisory Council may significantly influence the ministries by the cast of votes of no confidence. The constitution provides for hereditary rule by the emir’s branch of the Al-Thani family. The constitutional provision for legislative authority vested in an advisory council with 30 elected members and 15 members appointed by the emir has not yet been implemented. The influence of Bedouin tribal traditions was still strong, and the government did not permit political parties or opposition groups to organize.
 
Many foreign domestic servants were sexually harassed and mistreated. Most domestic servants did not press charges for fear of losing their jobs.
 
Domestic violence against women was a problem. The law criminalizes domestic violence and rape, however it does not address spousal rape. The legal system allows leniency for a man found guilty of committing a “crime of honor,” or a violent assault against a woman for perceived immodesty or deviant behavior.
 
The State Department reported in 2008, “traditions and the interpretation of Shari’a restricted activities of women. The government adhered to an interpretation of Shari’a that recognizes that Muslims have the automatic right to inherit from their Muslim spouses. Non-Muslim spouses (invariably wives, since Muslim women cannot legally marry non-Muslims) do not inherit unless their spouse formally wills them a portion (up to one-third of the total) of their estates. Similarly a Muslim husband does not automatically inherit the property of a non-Muslim wife. Muslim wives have the right to inherit from their husbands. The proportion that women inherit depends upon their relationship to the deceased; however, in the cases of siblings, sisters inherit only one-half as much as their brothers.”
 
The State Department recorded that “there was no social pattern for child labor or abuse. There were also some cases of children who had suffered from various forms of family violence and physical and sexual abuse.”
 
The State Department also noted in 2008 “there is no specific antitrafficking law. In addition, provisions of the Sponsorship Law create conditions that could lead to forced labor activities and slave-like conditions. Although the law criminalizes slavery, forced labor, and forced prostitution, prosecutions have not occurred.”
 
The government discriminated based on nationality in the areas of employment, education, housing, and health services. Noncitizens did not receive the same benefits as citizens. They were required to pay for residence permits, health care, electricity, water, and education (services that were provided without charge to citizens). Noncitizens generally could not own property; however, the law provided for property ownership in three designated areas. The largest noncitizen groups were Indian, Nepalese, Sri Lankan, expatriate Arabs, Filipino, Bangladeshi, Iranian, Pakistani, and Indonesian.
 
Although born, raised and schooled in the country, noncitizen residents and Bidoons are afforded no more rights under the law than temporary migrant laborers. They were discriminated against in medical care, education, employment, and mobility.
 
According to the State Department, “although the labor law provides the emir with authority to set a minimum wage, he did not do so. The average wage of noncitizen workers did not provide a decent standard of living for a worker and family.”
 
The rights of foreign workers continued to be severely restricted. Some employers mistreated foreign domestic servants, predominantly those from South Asia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Such mistreatment generally involved the nonpayment or late payment of wages and in some cases involved rape and physical abuse.
 
During the year the embassies of India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka received a combined total of more than 15,000 complaints from male and female workers alleging mistreatment by their employers. Complaints included sexual harassment, delayed and nonpayment of salaries, forced labor, contract switching, holding of passports, poor accommodation, non-repatriation, physical torture or torment, overwork, imprisonment, and maltreatment.
 
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

 

Note: During Stoltzfus’ tenure as non-resident Ambassador, the Embassy in Doha was established on Feb 24, 1973, with John T. Wheelock as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.
 
William A. Stoltzfus, Jr.
Appointment: Dec 9, 1971
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 19, 1972
Termination of Mission: Appointment terminated, Aug 21, 1974
Note: Also accredited to Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates; resident at Kuwait.
 
Robert P. Paganelli
Appointment: Jun 20, 1974
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 22, 1974
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 13, 1977
 
Andrew Ivy Killgore
Appointment: Aug 3, 1977
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 29, 1977
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 29, 1980
 
Charles E. Marthinsen
Appointment: May 23, 1980
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 30, 1980
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 1, 1983
 
Charles Franklin Dunbar
Appointment: Oct 7, 1983
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 30, 1983
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 23, 1985
 
Joseph Ghougassian
Appointment: Dec 6, 1985
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 29, 1985
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 30, 1989
 
Mark Gregory Hambley
Appointment: Oct 10, 1989
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 30, 1989
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 15, 1992
 
Kenton Wesley Keith
Appointment: May 26, 1992
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 2, 1992
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 17, 1995
 
Patrick N. Theros
Appointment: Oct 3, 1995
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 12, 1995
Termination of Mission: Left post Nov 23, 1998
 
Elizabeth Davenport McKune
Appointment: Oct 1, 1998
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 6, 1998
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 20, 2001
 
Maureen Quinn
Appointment: Aug 7, 2001
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 24, 2001
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 12, 2004
 
Charles Graves Untermeyer
Appointment: Aug 2, 2004
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 7, 2004
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 19, 2007
 
Joseph Evan LeBaron
Appointment: July 18, 2008
Presentation of Credentials:
Termination of Mission:
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Qatar's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Al Kuwari, Mohammed Jaham Abdulaziz

 

Mohammed Jaham Abdulaziz Al Kuwari was appointed as Qatar’s ambassador to the United States in December, 2013. It’s the second ambassadorial posting for Al Kuwari.

 

Al Kuwari was born May 20, 1958, one of 13 children of parents who could not read or write. Gaining a scholarship, he attended college in the United States, at the University of Portland in Oregon, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 1980. He joined Qatar’s foreign service the following year, with his first posting coming in Washington, D.C.

 

Al Kuwari remained in Washington until 1986, when he was sent to Qatar’s mission to Spain. During his time there, he earned a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Madrid in 1990.

 

He was brought home that year to be chief of the Information Department of the Cooperation Council to Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 1991, Al Kuwari was posted to the Qatari embassy in Tehran, Iran, where he remained until 1992.

 

Al Kuwari began a long stint home in 1993, first as deputy head of cabinet, then in 1995 as director of European and American Affairs. Beginning in 1997, he worked in Diplomatic Consular Services. Al Kuwari returned as director of European and American Affairs in 2001 and simultaneously was head of a Qatari delegation engaged in political and strategic dialogue with France.

 

He was posted to Paris as Qatar’s ambassador to France in 2003 and was also accredited to Switzerland and the Holy See (Vatican City). He served in that post for 10 years, and in 2007 added the posts of non-resident envoy to Portugal and Monaco to his portfolio.

 

Since his return to Washington, Al Kuwari has seen Qatar complete a deal to buy a Patriot missile defense system, 24 Apache helicopters and 500 Javelin anti-tank missiles from the United States for $11 billion. In addition, he has said he is hoping to complete contracts with American companies to work on some of Qatar’s many infrastructure projects to be built in the run-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

 

Al Kuwari is married and has five children; four girls and one boy. He speaks English, Spanish, French and Arabic.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

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Qatar's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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U.S. Ambassador to Qatar

Shell Smith, Dana
ambassador-image

 

On May 1, 2014, President Barack Obama nominated Dana Shell Smith to be the U.S. Ambassador to Qatar. If confirmed, it will be the first ambassadorial posting for the career Foreign Service officer.

 

Shell Smith joined the State Department at age 21, right after graduating from University of California San Diego with a degree in political science and Middle East studies in 1992. She was first assigned to the United States Information Agency (now the Bureau of International Information Programs). In 1993, Shell Smith went to Cairo to study Arabic at the American University there. She remained in Egypt, serving as the cultural affairs officer in the embassy there until 1996.

 

That year, Shell Smith was reassigned to the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv. While in there, she met the man who would become her husband, Diplomatic Security Service officer Ray Smith. In 1999, Shell Smith was moved to Jordan, where she was the spokesperson for the U.S. embassy in Amman.

 

In 2003, Shell Smith had her first posting outside the Middle East when she was assigned to be public affairs officer at the American Institute in Taiwan. The Institute serves as a de facto embassy in the nation with which the United States does not have formal diplomatic relations.

Shell Smith returned to Washington in 2006 to serve as the senior advisor to the director general of the Foreign Service. In 2009, she returned to the Middle East to work at the State Department media liaison office in Dubai. She was the designated representative to appear on Arab news programs to explain the U.S. position on various issues.

 

The year 2010 brought a return to Washington, first as deputy assistant secretary for Public Affairs, establishing an office of international social media engagement, pioneering the State Department’s use of Twitter in Arabic, then in May 2011 as principal deputy assistant secretary for Public Affairs.

 

Shell Smith raised some eyebrows outside the diplomatic world in 2012 when she wrote an article in The Atlantic that was a response to an earlier piece about life in government service entitled “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” In Shell Smith’s response, “How to Have an Insanely Demanding Job and 2 Happy Children,” she wrote that while she did make some sacrifices, she was in general able to balance a career with progressively more responsibility with raising her two sons. Predictably, Shell Smith drew a mixed response from the article, both from inside the Foreign Service and among the general public.

 

Shell Smith stirred more controversy with a response to another article written by colleagues. In 2013, Susan Johnson, president of the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post decrying what she and her two co-authors perceived as a breakdown in the Foreign Service system in favor of political appointees and regular civil service employees. Shell Smith and another Foreign Service officer circulated a letter expressing disagreement with the op-ed. In response, 11 former AFSA presidents asked the Senate Foreign Relations Committee not to approve Shell Smith’s nomination. However, the committee approved her appointment and sent it to the full Senate for consideration on June 24.

 

In addition to Arabic, Shell Smith speaks Spanish, Hebrew and Chinese. Her husband, Ray Smith, is an agent with the Diplomatic Security Service.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

Why is the State Department Tweeting in Arabic? A Conversation with Dana Shell Smith (by Jillian C. York)

Testimony Before Senate Foreign Relations Committee (pdf)

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Qatar

Ziadeh, Susan
ambassador-image

Susan L. Ziadeh was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to Qatar on September 12, 2011, for what is her eighth tour of duty in the Middle East.

 
The daughter of noted Palestinian-American scholar Farhat Ziadeh, Susan Ziadeh was born circa 1954 and grew up in Princeton, New Jersey, and Seattle, Washington. She earned a B.A. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Washington, an M.A. from the American University in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1978, and a PhD in Middle Eastern History from the University of Michigan in 1991. She also holds an M.S. in National Security Studies, which she obtained in 2004 from the National War College, National Defense University.
 
A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Ziadeh’s early postings included stints at the embassies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Kuwait City, Kuwait; and Amman, Jordan; and service as cultural officer and then vice-consul at the consulate in Jerusalem, Israel, in the mid-1990s. In Washington from 2001 to 2003, Ziadeh was responsible for the Jordan desk, and was acting Deputy Director of the Office for Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. From 2004 to 2007 she served as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Bahrain. From 2007 to 2009, she was the public affairs counselor and then Official Spokesperson at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. Ziadeh returned to Riyadh as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy from September 2009 to May 2011.
 
Outside of government, Ziadeh has served as national director of the Association of Arab-American University Graduates (AAUG).
 
Official Biography

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