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Sprawling urban growth
Founded in the 19th century next to the small fishing port of Al Bida'a, the village of Doha was originally inhabited by sedentary Bedouin tribes and by pirates who scoured the Persian Gulf. In 1851, the British installed Mohammed bin Thani Al Thani, the sheikh of Doha, as the first ruler of Qatar. The city grew and absorbed Al Bida. By 1915, it had 27,000 inhabitants. Qatar’s economy was based mainly on the pearling industry. The discovery of oil in 1949 and natural gas in 1991 changed the situation and led to a massive economic boom. The Qatari capital now stretches from Al Wakrah in the south to Al Khor in the north and has swallowed the large city of Al Rayyan in the west. Bordered by the Corniche, Doha is crossed on a north-south axis by the six- to eight-lane wide Doha Express Way.
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