Qatar embraced Islam in the 7th century AD. As with the rest of the Middle East, Qatar came under Turkish rule for several centuries. Ottoman power was nominal, with real power being in the hands of local sheikhs and tribal leaders. In 1915 the Turks withdrew, and on 3 Nov. 1916 Qatar signed a protection treaty with Britain. The dominant economic activity had traditionally been pearl diving, but around 1930 the pearl market collapsed. In 1939 oil was discovered. Although the Second World War delayed progress, exporting began in 1949. This was to change Qatar dramatically. Qatar declared its independence from Britain on 3 Sept. 1971, ending the Treaty of 1916 which was replaced by a treaty of friendship between the two countries.
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