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Qatar ( or ; ' ; local vernacular pronunciation: ), officially the State of Qatar , is a sovereign Arab country located in Western Asia, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its territory surrounded by the Persian Gulf. A strait in the Persian Gulf separates Qatar from the nearby island kingdom of Bahrain. In 2013, Qatar's total population was 1.8 million; 278,000 Qatari citizens and 1.5 million expatriates. Although tiny, Qatar wields significant clout due to its natural gas wealth and its sovereign wealth fund, which is one of the world's largest.
Following Ottoman rule, Qatar became a British protectorate in the early 20th century until gaining independence in 1971. Qatar has been ruled by the Al Thani family since the mid-19th century. Qatar is an absolute monarchy and its head of state is Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. After Saudi Arabia, Qatar is the most conservative society in the GCC as most Qataris adhere to the strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam. Qatar has the world's third largest natural gas reserves and oil reserves in excess of 25 billion barrels. Qatar has become an influential player in the Arab world. Qatar supported several rebel groups during the Arab Spring both financially and by asserting global influence through its expanding media group, Al Jazeera Media Network. Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, becoming the first Arab country to host the event.