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Dawlat Qatar, State of Qatar

Last modified: 2007-05-05 by joe mcmillan
Keywords: qatar | asia | serration | zig-zag | indented | persian gulf | diamonds: 10 (red) |
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[Qatar]11:28 by Željko Heimer, 7 December 2002
Basic design 1949; current pattern adopted 9 July 1971

On this page:

See also:

Flag adopted 9 July 1971, coat ot arms adopted in 1978.
Proportions: 11:28 (very often 2:3 or 3:5)
Description: Maroon flag with a white serrated (zigzag) stripe at the hoist
Use: on land, national, civil and war flag, at sea, national, civil and war ensign.

Colour approximate specifications (as given in Album des Pavillons [pay00]):

  • Maroon: Pantone 222 c / CMYK (%) C 0 - M 100 - Y 15 - K 60

Construction Sheet

Flag of Qatar&mdashConstruction by Željko Heimer, 7 December 2002

Album des Pavillons [pay00] provides the construction details as 11:(8+2+18). There are nine white points in the serration.
Željko Heimer, 7 December 2002

The Qatari and Bahraini Flags

Despite the near-vilification of this flag over its individualistic approach to proportions (11:28, a reflection of a "do your own thing" view of national policy?), there is a fascinating story here.

At first glance, the Qatar flag seems remarkably similar to the flag of Bahrain. Both have the distinctive serrated margin between the white band at the hoist and the "red" fly. The proportions set them apart (Bahrain 3:5) and the colors differ, with Bahrain being a standard "British" red (they, after all, had a strong and "involved" British adviser throughout the 1930s) and Qatar the distinctive "maroon." This similarity reflects an intertwined history.

To make a long and involved story very short, the histories of the two states have overlapped and occasionally collided since the 18th century. The distinctive Qatari flag emerged in the 1930s (official adoption of the maroon color came about 1949).

Bahrain's flag as we know it now was formally adopted in 1932 and the Qatari differences in size and color (said to be what becomes of red as it fades in the Gulf sun—a fanciful tale) seem to be largely an effort to make the Qatar flag different from the Bahraini banner.
Ed Haynes, 29 January 1996

History of the flag

The first flag of Qatar was plain red. It was used until about 1860, when a narrow serrated white stripe was added at the hoist (some sources claim the stripe was not originally serrated). Around 1916 a white flag with a red square in the center and a yellow (some say red) crescent in the canton was in use. It seems this flag was short-lived and was soon replaced by the previous flag. Around 1932, the vertical serrated stripe was changed to a wavy stripe taking up about 1/5 the length of the flag, which was in ratio 1:2). and the red was then changed to dark red or violet. (William Crampton reports the undulated stripe was light yellow, probably because the original white color faded to light yellow because the use and the sun.)
Jaume Ollé, 14 April 2000

Circa 1936

[Qatar flag, c. 1936]
by Željko Heimer, 7 December 2002 |

In about 1936 the violet field was changed to maroon with 9½ serrated points and 10 diamonds in the serration. The name of the state was written in white on the field. The ratio was 11:30.
Jaume Ollé, 14 April 2000

Flaggenbuch 1939 [neu92] shows the flag with the hoist at viewer's right and a red field. Flaggenbuch uses more or less the same shade of red for all of the Gulf Arab states' flags (Bahrain, Qatar, Yemen, Trucial States), but the shades differ slightly among pages, probably due to printing or facsimiling process).
Ivan Sache, 2 May 2001

1949 to Present

In 1949 the shade was slightly modified and the serration reached 1/3 of the fly. The diamonds were suppressed. In 1971 (at independence) the current version of the flag was adopted, practically identical but with ratio 11:28.
Jaume Ollé, 14 April 2000