The Struggle to Invent Qatari Nationalism

The country is trying to forge a sense of national unity, without much success.

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Nations naturally develop when a group of people with specific cultural traits and similar aspirations form a community of interest. Symbols that reflect these traits and aspirations have often been used to foster a sense of unity among the population – a sense of nationalism. Such is the case in Qatar. The country has a history of invasions, bloodletting and conquest by its more powerful neighbors. Its ruling elite believe the best way to keep the country together is to carve out a niche for itself on the world stage and transform Qataris into a national community distinct from its neighbors and proud of its achievements. Qatar’s Security Dilemma Qatar’s modern history began in 1765, when the trade-oriented al-Khalifa family, who could not compete politically with the al-Sabah ruling family, left Kuwait and arrived in Zubara on the Qatari Peninsula’s west coast. In 1783, they invaded Bahrain with seafaring al-Jalahma, another Kuwaiti tribe that had settled in northern Qatar. From there, Qatar was subject to a series of incursions, by al-Khalifa, Abu Dhabi’s al-Nahyan and Najd’s al-Saud, underscoring Qatari fears of foreign intrusion. (click to enlarge) Between 1848 and 1888, Abu Dhabi forces destroyed Doha four times, twice with the […]

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Hilal Khashan
Hilal Khashan is a Professor of political science at the American University of Beirut. He is a respected author and analyst of Middle Eastern affairs. He is the author of six books, including Hizbullah: A Mission to Nowhere. (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2019.) He is currently writing a book titled Saudi Arabia: The Dilemma of Political Reform and the Illusion of Economic Development. He is also the author of more than 110 articles that appeared in journals such as Orbis, The Journal of Conflict Resolution, The Brown Journal of World Affairs, Middle East Quarterly, Third World Quarterly, Israel Affairs, Journal of Religion and Society, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, and The British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies.