Sandwiched between the beautiful Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia, Qatar’s evolution as a country has been well documented through the changes in their national flag. With a history dating back 50,000 years, Qatar boasts a rich and ancient journey as a country. Though on the surface their flag has undergone seemingly minor facelifts, the design shifts represent deep change.
Taking shape some time prior to 1860, Qatar’s first flag started out as a vibrant red in its entirety, to mirror the red banner used by neighboring Kharjite Muslims. The first change to flag design took place in 1860, where a white band was added to the hoist side. The white stripe was thin with a serrated edge meeting the red portion. The white stripe was said to be added at the request of Great Britain. This change was a precursor to Qatar becoming a British protectorate, meaning that Qatar would cede territory to Britain in return for British protection from possible attacks by sea.
This British protectorate would last until 1971, the year which marks Qatar’s independence as a sovereign nation. The flag adopted a maroon red as opposed to the previous bright red and kept the white band with serrated edges. The white band was expanded to cover 1/3 of the flag itself. The serrated edge is comprised of nine white triangles, which is significant. These nine triangles were selected in order to honor Qatar being included as the ninth member of the reconciled Emirates as part of the Persian Gulf. These memberships came to be at the end of the Qatari and British treaty in 1916.
The colors of Qatar’s flag hold significance as well. Color dying itself is historical in the country, dating back several centuries for purple dye specifically. It is believed that Qatar is the home of the earliest known production of the shellfish dyeing process. The maroon color of the current flag was selected to honor the original purple tinted dyes of centuries past and the color is referred to as “Qatar maroon.” The offsetting white color signifies the peaceful periods dotted through Qatar’s many times of war throughout the country, specifically after signing the protection treaty with the British. The dimensions of the flag are unique as well, making Qatar the only national flag which has a width twice as large as its height.