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Legal History of Qatar

Qatar- An Introduction

Qatar occupies a small desert peninsula that extends northward from the larger Arabian Peninsula. It has always been a sparsely populated country. Qatar as the main pillar for its national security nurtures close ties with Western powers.

After the signing of the treaty of friendship between the State of Qatar and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the State of Qatar became an independent country on September 3, 1971.

Timeline of rulers of Qatar

Commencement of Rule

Name of Ruler

1878

Sheikh Jassim Bin Mohammad succeeded his father Sheikh Mohammad bin Tahi

1913

Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim

1940

Sheikh Hamad Bin Abdullah

1949

Sheikh Ali Bin Abdullah

1960

Sheikh Ahmad Bin Ali

1971

State of Qatar became independent.

1972

Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani

1995

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani

The Qatar Legal System

The main source of legislation in Qatar is the Shari’a Law also known as the Islamic Religious Law. At the very beginning of the Permanent Constitution of Qatar, the first Article states that- “Qatar is an independent sovereign Arab State and the people of Qatar are a part of the Arab nation. Its religion is Islam and Shari’a law (Islamic Religious Law) is the main source of its legislations. Its political system is democratic. The Arabic language shall be its official language”. The Constitution Provisional Amended Basic Statute was issued by the drafting committee of the permanent constitution on 19th April 1971. That part of the constitution established the fundamental principles of its policy, defined the system of rule in the state, and organized its authorities.

  • Amendment 

Article 144 of the Permanent Constitution states that the Emir or one third of the Members of the Shoura Council each shall have the right to apply for the amendment of the articles of the Constitution, be it one or more than one. The Council may discuss it article by article if a majority of the members of the Council accept the amendment in principle. The amendment must be passed by a two-thirds majority of the members of the Council. The amendment shall not enter into force before the approval of the Emir and its publication in the Official Gazette. If, on the other hand, the proposal for amendment gets rejected in principle or in the subject, it cannot be re-introduced before the lapse of one year from the date of its rejection.

  • The Issuance of Laws and Value of Justice

Article 35 of the Permanent Constitution states that all persons are equal before the law and no discrimination will be made between persons on grounds of sex, race, language, or religion.

There is a dualistic relationship between the national and international law in the Qatari legal system. Even the treaties and conventions are not self- executing in Qatar. All this has to be implemented into the Qatari Legislations. Qatar is a hereditary constitutional monarchy. The principle of separation of power was adopted by the State of Qatar with the Constitution of 2003.

  • Conclusion of Treaties and Agreement

The power to conclude treaties and agreements by a decree and refer them to the Shoura Council accompanied with appropriate explanatory notes is vested in the hands of the Emir as stated in Article 68 of the Constitution. These treaties and agreements will have the power of law after ratification and publication in the Official Gazette. 

Head of State

The government in the State of Qatar is hereditary in the line of the male descendants of Hamad bin Khalifa bin Hamad bin Abdullah bin Qassim. The rule is inherited by Heir Apparent who is the son of the family. This process is concluded by the Emir after due consultation with members of the Ruling Family and the people of wisdom in the State. 

The Executive Authority

According to Article 61 of the Constitution, the Executive Authority shall be vested in the Emir and he shall be assisted by the Council of Ministers as specified in the Constitution.

Council of Ministers

The Council of Ministers, are the supreme executive authority in the country of Qatar. They are responsible to monitor all the internal and external affairs within its jurisdiction in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and the law.

The Prime Minister

The Emir has the power to appoint the prime minister. He can also accept his resignation and therefore remove him from office by an Emir Order. The resignation of the Prime Minister will incorporate the removal of all the ministers from their office.

The Ministers

Upon nomination by the prime minister, the Emir appoints all the ministers and also accepts their resignation and removal in the same manner. According to Article 73 of the Constitution, even after their resignation is approved the ministers have to run their offices until a successor is appointed in their place.

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