Since the mid-1800s, Qatar transformed itself from a British protectorate into an independent state with significant oil and natural gas revenues, which enable Qatar to have a per capita income almost above the leading industrial countries of Western Europe. Qatar is home to the Al Jazeera television station and is rapidly gaining interest among foreigners as it hosted the 2006 Asian Games and is now scheduled to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Arabic is the official language, particularly the Gulf dialect. As Qatar was a British protectorate, English is the most common second language, and most locals would be able to speak basic English.
The culture of Qatar is strongly influenced by traditional Bedouin culture, with less acute influence deriving from India, East Africa and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf. The peninsula's harsh climatic conditions compelled its inhabitants to turn to the sea for sustenance. Thus, there is a distinct emphasis placed on the sea in local culture. Literature and folklore themes are often related to sea-based activities.
Oral arts such as poetry and singing were historically more prevalent than figurative art because of the restrictions placed by Islam on depictions of sentient beings; however, certain visual art disciplines such as calligraphy, architecture and textile arts were widely practiced. Figurative arts were gradually assimilated into the country's culture during the oil era.