Qatar’s Constitution has witnessed several transitional stages, starting in 1970 when the first Interim Basic Statute for governance was enacted. This statute was amended in 1972 to address the requirements and responsibilities of that stage. Thereafter, the features and objectives of Qatar’s policies were defined. The government and its organs also garnered much experience from the actual performance of authority at both domestic and international levels.
The legislative amendments that addressed some of the provisions of the amended Interim Basic Statute, with regards to the executive authority and the provisions relating to the succession of rule in the state, were part of the constitutional changes in the country. Furthermore, the issuance of the Judiciary Act and other basic laws governing civil and commercial transactions were steps towards both the establishment of state agencies, and the laying of the foundations for the state of law and institutions.
On July 13, 1999, the State of Qatar heralded a new era in its modern history, when His Highness the Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani issued Amiri Decision No. (1) of 1999 stipulating the establishment of a committee for the drafting of the permanent constitution.
HH the Father Amir defined the competence of the Constitution in a historic speech he delivered on this occasion. In his speech, HH the Father Amir set out the basic outlines of the anticipated Constitution, whereby he explained that the Constitution is a fundamental document that includes the fundamental guiding principles of state policy in various fields, organises its powers and its system of government, and determines public rights and duties. It should be based on the principles of Gulf, Arab and Islamic religion heritage and culture.
The Committee for the Drafting of the Permanent Constitution was formed of thirty two (32) Qatari scholars and thinkers.
On July 2, 2002, the Committee presented HH the Father Amir with the Draft Permanent Constitution of the State of Qatar.
A referendum on the Draft Permanent Constitution was set on Tuesday, April 29, 2003. The big turnout at the polls clearly reflected the response of the Qatari people to the appeal of HH the Father Amir, exhorting them to partake in the referendum on the draft constitution. As a result, 96.6% of the Qatari population voted in favour of the permanent constitution.
On June 8, 2004, based on Article 141 of the Permanent Constitution of the State of Qatar, and in the framework of achieving the goals of democratic governance in Qatar, a permanent constitution was to be taken on that would lay down the fundamental pillars of society. The constitution would also embody popular participation in decision-making, and guarantee the rights and freedoms of citizens. This was to be achieved while still being aware of the importance of cherished Arab and Islamic culture and religion.