Qatar | Freedom House

Freedom in the World

Freedom in the World 2017



Freedom Status: 
Not Free

Freedom in the World Scores

(1=Most Free, 7=Least Free)

Quick Facts

Press Freedom Status: 
Not Free

Qatar’s hereditary emir holds all executive and legislative authority, and ultimately controls the judiciary as well. Political parties are not permitted, and the only elections are for an advisory municipal council. While Qatari citizens are among the wealthiest in the world, more than four-fifths of the population are expatriates with no political rights, few civil liberties, and limited access to economic opportunity.

Key Developments: 
  • In June, the emir issued a decree that extended the term of the fully appointed Advisory Council by another three years, postponing the first elections for the council until at least 2019.
  • In November, authorities blocked access to Doha News, a popular online outlet that had provided critical reporting on sensitive topics.
  • Qatar continued to face international scrutiny over the alleged mistreatment of migrant workers, particularly those involved in construction projects related to soccer’s World Cup, which the emirate was scheduled to host in 2022.
Executive Summary: 

The government of Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Qatar’s emir since 2013, continued to grapple with the effects of low oil and gas prices and a related slowdown in public spending in 2016. A cabinet shuffle in January, part of gradual process by which the emir was replacing officials appointed by his father, also featured the consolidation of several ministries to reduce costs. The country remained involved in Saudi-led military operations in Yemen and made efforts to repair relations with fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states after a serious rift in 2014 over Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Qatari citizens have been spared from the brunt of austerity measures, whose impact has fallen hardest on the expatriate population. Spending continued in 2016 on preparations for the 2022 World Cup, which have drawn international attention to labor exploitation in Qatar. Large numbers of migrant workers reportedly faced abusive conditions that sometimes amounted to forced labor.

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