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Aug.

15, 2007

DOHA, QATAR: SECURITY ASSESSMENT


Country Qatar is a small constitutional monarchy situated on the Qatar Peninsula, which extends from the northeastern coast of the greater Arabian Peninsula. Qatar shares its southern border with Saudi Arabia but is otherwise surrounded by the Persian Gulf. There are approximately 850,000 people living in the country, which is one of the wealthiest countries per capita in the world. As such, Qatar is undergoing rapid and extensive modernization. City The capital of Qatar is Doha, which also is the country's largest city and economic center. Some of Qatar's largest oil and gas companies, including Qatar Petroleum, Qatargas and RasGas, are headquartered in Doha, and the city itself reflects Qatars considerable oil and natural gas wealth. Doha has an estimated population of about 400,000, most of whom (roughly 75 percent) are expatriates mainly from South Asia, Europe and the United States. The city also is home to the forward headquarters of U.S. Central Command (Centcom), which controls U.S. military operations in the Middle East. The Education City district in Doha is home to several U.S. university campuses, such as Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Qatar, as well as at least two U.S. "think tanks," including the RAND-Qatar Policy Institute. The U.S. Embassy in Qatar is located at 22nd February Street in the Al Luqta district of Doha. Office hours are 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday. The telephone number is 974-488-4101. (For calls originating in the United States, add the prefix O11.) After hours, U.S. travelers should contact the embassy duty officer at 974-488-4101. Terrorism Terrorist organizations in and around Qatar, including the regional al Qaeda affiliate, continue to issue threats of attack in the Arabian Peninsula. However, the most recent attack in Doha occurred more than two years ago. In March 2005, a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb outside the Doha Players' Theater, which is frequented by Westerners. One person was killed and approximately 10 were injured. It is important for travelers to exercise caution and maintain vigilance while visiting places known to be potential terrorist targets, such as transportation centers, locations associated with foreign governments (e.g., Centcom), residential compounds, hotels, restaurants, places of worship, commercial and public areas often visited by Westerners and tourist attractions. The Qatari government has been known to provide security at some of these locations and during major events, but the level of security has varied. Increased security at government facilities has led

2007 Strategic Forecasting, Inc.

terrorists to focus on softer, less fortified targets (such as the Doha Players' Theater). Overall, however, Qatar is considered very safe compared to Saudi Arabia. Because of the potential for terrorist actions within Qatar, the threat of terrorism in Doha is medium.1 Crime Crime in general is not a significant concern in Qatar. What crime exists is mainly petty theft; incidents of violent crime are rare. Because of the terrorist threat, there is a large police presence throughout the country that helps keep the crime rate low. Still, travelers are advised to remain aware of their surroundings. Valuables such as cash, jewelry and small electronics should not be left unattended or in an unsecured location. Also, female visitors should not travel alone at night. The threat of crime in Doha is low.2 War and Insurgency Qatar, like Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council and generally has good relations with neighboring countries. In March 2001, the International Court of Justice settled a long-standing territorial and maritime dispute with Bahrain. The court's decision was binding and peacefully accepted by both Doha and Manama, prompting renewed cooperation between the two countries. Qatar is trying to assert itself as a major player in the region and could create some geopolitical tensions in the process, although this would not likely affect the country's security. However, given that Qatar is a staunch U.S. ally and a home to Centcom, the country would be dramatically impacted by any U.S. war with Iran, which would certainly target Qatars oil facilities as well as U.S. bases. Nevertheless, Stratfor believes the possibility of such a war in the foreseeable future is remote and that the overall danger of war and insurgency in Doha is low.3 Political Instability When compared with other Arab states in the Middle East like Saudi Arabia, Qatar has relatively liberal laws, though they are not as liberal as those in the United Arab Emirates. Starting in 1995, when Crown Prince Hamad bin Khalifa replaced his father as emir, the country underwent a period of liberalization and modernization, and in 1999 it became the first country in the Persian Gulf region to give women the right to vote. It is important to keep in mind that, although Qatar is more open than other Middle Eastern societies, developments in the region can still impact public opinion in the
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country, possibly sparking protests and demonstrations that can turn violent (which occurred in Doha in March). Western visitors are advised to avoid any large public gatherings. The level of political instability in Doha is low.4 Miscellaneous Threats The primary cause of death in Qatar is traffic accidents. Traffic safety regulations in the country are not on par with those in the United States, and travelers face a plethora of problems while driving, including roundabouts, extensive road construction and the routinely high speeds with which local drivers operate their motor vehicles. Conditions are significantly worse in rural areas, where roads are poorly maintained, insufficiently lit and often occupied by wandering camels. Visitors are advised to hire local drivers they can trust, particularly for travel in remote areas, and to remain in urban areas as much as possible. The risk from miscellaneous threats in Doha is low.5

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1. Terrorism threat levels. Low: No known credible threat. Medium: Potential but unsubstantiated threats by capable indigenous or transnational actors. High: Demonstrable history and continued potential for militant attacks against generalized targets. Foreigners and/or foreign facilities are not specifically targeted. Critical: Demonstrable history and continued likelihood of militant attacks. Foreigners and/or foreign facilities are specifically targeted. Crime threat levels. Low: Relatively low crime rate, mainly property or petty crime. Medium: Generally high crime rate with incidents of property crime that specifically targets foreigners, low potential for violence. High: Generally high crime rate with incidents of property crime that specifically targets foreigners, probability of violence and moderate risk of physical crime. Critical: Extensive criminal activity targeting foreigners with a high possibility of physical crime, including violence and kidnapping; heavily armed criminal elements abundant. War and Insurgency threat levels. Low: No or relatively low threat of violent insurgency. Medium: Nearby insurgency with the potential of affecting city, region, country or transportation network. High: Insurgency within the city, region or country but with little direct effect on foreigners. Critical: Insurgency within the city, region or country directly threatening foreigners. Political Instability threat levels. Low: No or minimal visible activity directed against the government. Medium: Sporadic street demonstrations, largely peaceful. High: Routine large-scale demonstrations, often affecting traffic and having the potential for violence. Critical: Endemic strikes, protests and street demonstrations almost always affecting traffic with a high probability of associated violence. Miscellaneous threat levels. Low: Little or no known threats posed by disease, weather, natural disasters, transportation hazards or other dangers. Medium: Moderate level of risk posed by some or all of these threats. High: Considerable danger posed by some or all of these threats. Critical: Extremely high level of danger posed by some or all of these threats.

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2007 Strategic Forecasting, Inc.