Masters of the Pearl

Distributed for Reaktion Books

Masters of the Pearl

A history of qatar.

Michael Quentin Morton

256 pages | 61 halftones | 6 1/4 x 9 1/4

History: Middle Eastern History

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"Morton draws the reader in by weaving a well-written tale of tribal intrigue, regional and historic animosities, and big power rivalry. It is a history that on the one hand illustrates the forces that have shaped Qatar and other Gulf states and on the other describes how much the region has and is changing as the result of economic and social development and wealth garnered from oil and gas. Masters of the Pearl constitutes a critical, yet compassionate contribution to an understanding of a small state that manages to punch above its weight and the stormy winds that attracts."

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"This study details the history of Qatar, a small country barely larger than Puerto Rico, as poor in documented history as it is rich in oil and gas wealth. Morton explains how old tribal feuds originating in the interior of the Arabian Peninsula reverberate today; sketches the background to the treaty signed with the British in 1868, which separated Qatar from Bahrain and put the Al Thani tribe (still the ruling regime) in power; discusses how Qatar became a British Protectorate in 1916; and describes how oil and gas rescued the country from the crisis caused by the collapse of the pearl trade in the 1930s. This book is mostly a political history . . . but it clarifies the historical causes underlying the current tensions with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which resulted in the 2017 embargo. Importantly, the book helps readers understand how Qatar continues to punch above its weight. . . . Highly recommended."
“Qatar's founder Sheikh Jassim has a luminous place in these pages, for when he died, he left pearls valued at 600,000 rupees (£7.5m). As Morton observes, ‘pearling more than anything determined the human patterns of this land.’ While Qatar was a linchpin of pearling's halcyon era at the start of the twentieth century, the arrival of artificially produced pearls killed the trade; ‘in the 1930s the country faced ruin.’ However, the discovery of oil transformed Qatar’s fortunes. Where once there had been ‘grazing camels, perhaps a passing Bedouin or two; now there were oil tanks rising up.’ . . . The author has a special affinity with Qatar: in the 1950s, he lived in the Dukhan oil camp with his family (his father was a geologist). However, as Morton concedes in his readable history, change came at a cost, for ‘villages were abandoned . . . and new jobs in the shiny oil industry beckoned.’”

Law Society Gazette

" Masters of the Pearl: A History of Qatar deftly tracks the emergence of the Al Thani dynasty from its merchant roots in the Gulf’s mid-nineteenth century pearling industry to ruling one the richest nations in the world by per capita income. It is a well-told story that peels off the wrapping, to paraphrase Churchill, to the mystery inside an enigma that is the riddle of Qatar. . . . It is a story of many moving parts but Morton obligingly provides potted profiles of the main characters, genealogical tables of the Al Thani and Al Khalifa dynasties, as well as a useful glossary of Arabic terms to help the reader through the mind-numbing intricacies of the region’s tribal interactions."

Asian Affairs

"That rare pearl: an accessible book on a Gulf country that also manages to be well-researched. Recommended for students and visitors alike, Quentin Morton's prose reveals a passion for the Qatar of old where he lived the early years of his life. Qatar today is now a regular, international news headline. This book puts that news in context."

Allen Fromherz, author of "Qatar: A Modern History"

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Qatar: Small State, Big Politics Hardcover – Illustrated, July 23, 2013

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The Persian Gulf state of Qatar has fewer than 2 million inhabitants, virtually no potable water, and has been an independent nation only since 1971. Yet its enormous oil and gas wealth has permitted the ruling al Thani family to exert a disproportionately large influence on regional and even international politics. Qatar is, as Mehran Kamrava explains in this knowledgeable and incisive account of the emirate, a "tiny giant": although severely lacking in most measures of state power, it is highly influential in diplomatic, cultural, and economic spheres.

Kamrava presents Qatar as an experimental country, building a new society while exerting what he calls "subtle power." It is both the headquarters of the global media network Al Jazeera and the site of the U.S. Central Command’s Forward Headquarters and the Combined Air Operations Center. Qatar has been a major player during the European financial crisis, it has become a showplace for renowned architects, several U.S. universities have established campuses there, and it will host the FIFA World Cup in 2022. Qatar’s effective use of its subtle power, Kamrava argues, challenges how we understand the role of small states in the global system. Given the Gulf state’s outsized influence on regional and international affairs, this book is a critical and timely account of contemporary Qatari politics and society.

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Inside Qatar: Hidden Stories from One of the Richest Nations on Earth

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Mehran Kamrava, a well-known expert on the middle East and the Persian Gulf, continues to contribute immensely to the intellectual life of Doha where he has been working since the establishment of Centre for International and Regional Studies at Georgetown University's School of Forgein Service in Qatar. Therefore, his book entitled Qatar: Small State, Big Politics came as no surprise and indeed is very much welcome.

Kamrava’s work is one of the first full-scale investigations of the intersections of Qatar’s foreign and domestic policies. This book is an important read for those who want to understand more about a crucial, but relatively understudied, country, as well as for scholars in the fields of rentier theory, state building, and international relations.

This very well-written book uses Qatar as a vehicle to discuss big ideas like the nature of power, state autonomy, and high modernism.

About the Author

Mehran Kamrava is Professor and Director of the Center for International and Regional Studies at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar. He is the author of a number of books, including, most recently, Iran’s Intellectual Revolution and The Modern Middle East: A Political History since the First World War , 3rd edition. He is also the editor of The International Politics of the Persian Gulf, Innovation in Islam: Traditions and Contributions, The Political Economy of the Persian Gulf , and The Nuclear Question in the Middle East .

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About the author

Mehran kamrava.

Mehran Kamrava is Professor of Government at Georgetown University Qatar. He is the author of a number of journal articles and books, including, most recently, A Concise History of Revolution; Troubled Waters: Insecurity in the Persian Gulf; Inside the Arab State; The Impossibility of Palestine; Qatar: Small State, Big Politics; The Modern Middle East: A Political History since the First World War; and Iran’s Intellectual Revolution. His edited books include Routledge Handbook of Persian Gulf Politics; The Great Game in West Asia: Iran, Turkey, and the Southern Caucasus; Fragile Politics: Weak States in the Greater Middle East; Beyond the Arab Spring: The Evolving Ruling Bargain in the Middle East; The Political Economy of the Persian Gulf; The Nuclear Question in the Middle East; and The International Politics of the Persian Gulf.

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United States books spot to 2022 World Cup in Qatar

Mark Ogden feels USMNT would pose a threat to England should they be drawn in the same group in Qatar. (1:16)

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SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- The United States men's national soccer team has qualified for the 2022 World Cup, securing its berth to the tournament in Qatar after missing out on the 2018 edition in Russia.

In what was largely a formality, the U.S. lost 2-0 to Costa Rica on Wednesday, but still managed to secure one of CONCACAF's three automatic berths, along with group winner Canada and rival Mexico .

- Social media celebrates after U.S. clinches World Cup spot - World Cup finals draw: Date, time, format, seeds - World Cup: Who has qualified and who is still in contention

The U.S., which went into Wednesday's game at Estadio Nacional needing only to avoid a loss of six goals or more to punch its ticket, finished the 14-game qualifying cycle with a record of seven wins, three losses and four draws for 25 points. That total left the U.S. three points behind Canada and Mexico, and level with Costa Rica, with only a goal differential of +11 ensuring the Americans finished ahead of Wednesday's hosts (+5).

Though the team was inconsistent at times during qualifying, it remained in a strong position throughout the cycle.

"It's amazing what this group of guys have been able to do over these last seven months," head coach Gregg Berhalter said after clinching the spot on Wednesday. "I've really seen the team grow and this is a great accomplishment. We are looking forward to the World Cup."

Berhalter was part of the U.S. team that reached the quarterfinals at the 2002 World Cup, where it lost to Germany. He was also part of its 2006 World Cup squad, but did not play any games as it was knocked out in the group stage.

"I don't think that has sunk in yet," he said, when asked about leading the team to the World Cup as a coach. "Just being at a World Cup as a player is one of the most special things you can do. Now to be doing it as a coach with this group of players is something special."

Berhalter used what amounted to a first-choice lineup, while Costa Rica played a mostly rotated team due to having nine players on yellow cards ahead of a potential playoff, which will now take place in Qatar against Oceania winners New Zealand.

The supposed talent discrepancy didn't matter.

Despite the U.S. controlling play for most of the game, Juan Vargas (51st minute) and Anthony Contreras (59th) took their chances to put Costa Rica up 2-0 early in the second half. But needing four more to clinch qualification and send the U.S. to the intercontinental playoff proved to be too difficult.

Although only four players on the current roster were with the team when it missed the 2018 World Cup, the group has been saddled with correcting that failure. None more so than Christian Pulisic , the star Chelsea forward.

"I think that Christian has always felt that responsibility," midfielder Tyler Adams said on Tuesday.

"Growing up as sort of that golden child in [this] U.S. soccer generation, people put expectations on him. To be quite frank with you, he's dealt with them better than anybody would really deal with that. In every single situation, he's expected to do things that people like [ Lionel] Messi and [ Cristiano] Ronaldo are supposed to do.

"He's supposed to bring us to the World Cup."

And while that pressure appeared to get to Pulisic at times during qualifying, his hat trick against Panama on Sunday came in the most consequential game the U.S. had played in years. Pulisic finished the cycle with a team-best five goals. At 23 years old, Pulisic's 12 goals over the past two qualifying cycles rank fourth all time in U.S. history.

Qualification wasn't the only goal the U.S. was chasing, right-back DeAndre Yedlin said Tuesday.

"I think at this point, I wouldn't say it's the ultimate goal, I think the ultimate goal is obviously to win a World Cup," he said. "But there's steps you have to take to get there and one of the huge steps is to qualify for World Cup."

The U.S. will be placed into Pot 2 for the draw to decide the eight four-team groups, which will be held Friday at noon ET in Doha, Qatar.

Only three teams in the 32-side field have yet to be determined. In a pair of one-game playoffs in Qatar in June, Costa Rica will play New Zealand while Peru will play either Australia or the United Arab Emirates .

The final spot will belong to the winner of Wales vs. Scotland / Ukraine . The Scotland-Ukraine playoff match originally scheduled for March 24 was postponed following Russia's invasion of Ukraine and has not been rescheduled.


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