Qatar has a traditionalistic form of political system. It practices absolute monarchy, with the Emir of Qatar as the head of state and government, despite its constitution stating that it should be a constitutional monarchy. In understanding the politics of Qatar, it is important to consider the nature of the Sharia law as an important premise in how Qatar practices its legal system. Moreover, the executive branch will also be studied in terms of how Qatar handles its powers, by taking note of the traditional influences present.
Qatar politics is governed by the Sharia system, which is usually employed in Islamic countries. According to Kamrava, this legal system is applied to family law, inheritance, and several criminal acts such as murder, robbery, and adultery. Qatar has one of the most stringent legal procedures for crime. For instance, punishment for alcohol consumption and illegal sexual relations would result in public flogging, and this has happened to many expatriates. The Sharia system is based on traditional perceptions of handling criminal acts, and physical discipline has been utilized as a means of punishment. Because of this, crime rates in Qatar are low, which may be due to the fact that people fear the repercussions of their actions.
In terms of managing the government services, Qatar’s executive branch is fundamentally autocratic. Kamrava stated that the ruling family, Al Thani, has been holding power since 1971. Although Qatar operates on a constitution that stated that the monarchy is constitutional, by practice, this is not so. Gray emphasized that, despite the monarch maintaining absolute control over all aspects of Qatar, government departments exist to meet social and economic demands. As a result, the government system has been slowly shifting from its strict, traditional roots to more modern forms of governance. Kamrava stated that, what is slowing down the immediate transformation of governance is the Emir’s influence over continuing traditions. Thus, Qatar has expressed a mesh of traditional monarchy with modern practices.
Qatar’s political system is fundamentally traditional as it encompasses the Sharia law which practices seemingly barbaric measures of addressing punishment and a government system that is bound on the premise of autocratic influence. The political system, although viewed as backwards by the West, is known to support a strong economy. Crime rates are low so people are safer to conduct business, for instance. Understanding the politics of Qatar provides insight on how it functions, particularly in taking note of traditional practices and how they are integrated into modern culture.
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