Qatar is an oil-rich country bordering on Saudi Arabia and located on a peninsula extending into the Persian Gulf. It was under British protection until 1971 and chose not to join the United Arab Emirates. Qatar has been dominated by the Al-Thani family for nearly 150 years and recently the leader has implemented reforms which included allowing women to vote and hold office.  
The population is less than three-quarters million and foreigners outnumber natives, due in part to work in the construction industry. 
- The launch of Al-Jazeera TV in 1997 raised the profile of Qatari television internationally. The station is outspoken on issues traditionally deemed as very sensitive in the Arab world. However, it is careful not to criticise Qatar itself and some of its close Gulf allies, specifically Saudi Arabia.
- The rest of the Qatari broadcast media are state-controlled. Leading dailies have links to the royal family and other notables. Qatar formally lifted censorship of the media in 1995 and since then the press has been essentially free from government interference. However, social and political constraints make self-censorship commonplace.
U.S. military base in Qatar
The Al Udeid U.S. military base, which is near the capital city of Doha, continues to be expanded since the scaling down of the U.S. base near Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The expansion began in 2003 to accomodate the increasing U.S. Air Force and Army presence in Qatar. The U.S. and Qatar conduct military exercises together and as of May 2007, are negotiating a major arms deal. 
In 2003, the U.S. began closing down its Prince Sultan Air Base near Riyadh, Saudi Arabia because of unease with having such a large American base in the country. The New York Times reported, "Senior Bush administration officials sought to emphasize that shifting the location of the command center should not be interpreted as an indication that the United States was ending its military relationship with Saudi Arabia, which has involved efforts to train Saudi forces, as well as the use of Saudi air bases.
"The United States is not planning to abandon the sophisticated air command center it opened at the Prince Sultan base in Saudi Arabia less than two years ago. General Renuart said the air command center in Saudi Arabia would probably go into warm status. The military plans to use it to oversee military exercises, and it could be reactivated in a crisis." 
Related SourceWatch articles
- Oil imperialism
- U.S. military bases overseas
- Nicola Nasser, "Qatar and U.S.: Collusion or Conflict of Interests", January 25, 2013.
- "English al-Jazeera sets own agenda", BBC, November 15, 2006.
- Timeline: Qatar BBC, accessed January 2008.