Doha (Ad Dawhah), Qatar
Approximately 60% of Qatar’s population of 600,000 lives in Doha, the capital and largest city. It is situated on a bay, roughly halfway along the eastern coast of the Qatari peninsula. For long a small pearling and fishing settlement, Doha has been transformed by Qatar’s oil-rich economy into a metropolitan city.
From the early 18th century Doha was known to Persian Gulf pirates for the protection afforded by its old port of Al Bida. In the mid-19th century, Qatar’s first ruler from the Al Thani family (Sheikh Mohammed) took effective control of most of the peninsula and settled in Doha. In 1867 the town was destroyed in a war with neighbouring Bahrain. The Ottoman Turks subsequently maintained a garrison there until Qatar became a British protectorate in 1916, with Doha as the administrative centre. A downturn in the pearling industry in the early 20th century undermined the town’s fragile economy. However, it expanded rapidly as oil exports, which began in 1949,...