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234 × 156 × 27 mm
264 pages
59 illustrations
10 Aug 2020

Masters of the Pearl A History of Qatar Michael Quentin Morton

Qatar is a country of spectacular contrasts: from pearl fishing, its main industry until the 1930s, to gas and oil, which generate immense wealth today; it has famously been at the centre of both triumph and controversy in recent years for hosting the 2022 fifa World Cup. Almost a lifetime since he grew up in Qatar, Michael Quentin Morton writes about the country’s colourful past and its astonishing present. The book is filled with stories about the people of this land: the tribes and the travellers, the seafarers and slaves – as much a part of Qatar’s history as its rulers and their wealth.

The opaque Arabian world guards its secrets well, but Masters of the Pearl penetrates the veil to shed light on a country that until now has defied explanation.

‘Michael Quentin Morton’s book is that rare pearl: an accessible book on a Gulf country that also manages to be well-researched. Recommended for students and visitors alike, Quentin Morton's prose reveals a passion for the Qatar of old where he lived the early years of his life. Qatar today is now a regular, international news headline. This book puts that news in context.’ — Professor Allen Fromherz, author of 'Qatar: A Modern History'

‘Morton draws the reader in by weaving a well-written tale of tribal intrigue, regional and historic animosities, and big power rivalry. It is a history that on the one hand illustrates the forces that have shaped Qatar and other Gulf states and on the other describes how much the region has and is changing as the result of economic and social development and wealth garnered from oil and gas. Masters of the Pearl constitutes a critical, yet compassionate contribution to an understanding of a small state that manages to punch above its weight and the stormy winds that attracts.’ — New Books Network

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Michael Quentin Morton has written a number of books on the history of the Middle East, including Keepers of the Golden Shore: A History of the United Arab Emirates (Reaktion, 2016).

Author’s Note

1 The Art of Survival
2 A Debatable Land
3 The Kaza’a of Qatar
4 ‘Am I Not Ruler of This Place?’
5 Of Pearls and Slaves
6 The Politics of Protection
7 The Qatari Way
8 Strange Wonders
9 A State of Independence
10 Old Ghosts and New Realities
11 Shades of Power
12 Theatre of the Damned

Notes on the Main Characters
Genealogical Tables
Select Bibliography
Photo Acknowledgements