When first looking at the flags of Qatar and Bahrain, one can hardly tell the difference. However, a direct comparison between them reveals perceptible differences in color and shape, while the symbols integrated in the design are also vastly divergent.
Telling them apart
Having a turbulent relationship over the years, with war disputes dating back to mid-19th century, it comes as little surprise that these neighboring countries share a very similar flag design: a white band on the hoist side and a red part taking up the fly side, separated by what seems like a saw-like line. One major difference, though, is the shades of red. Bahrain’s flag color is deep red, while Qatar features a maroon color. And then come the edges: Bahrain’s flag has five of them, while Qatar’s has nine. Moreover, the former features a 3:5 proportion, while the latter has a much greater length-to-width ratio.
Looking into the symbols
The white colored part on both flags symbolizes peace. However, for the Bahrain flag, the white field on the hoist side is separated by five white triangles, forming a zigzag pattern; these triangles stand for the five pillars of Islam: faith, prayer, alms, fasting and pilgrimage. In contrast, the nine triangles forming more of a serrated line on the flag of Qatar represent the number of wars Qatar fought. Therefore, one can draw the conclusion that the creators of the Bahrain flag opted to put more emphasis on the religious element, while Qatar gives more priority to war achievements and patriotism. (It’s worth noting here that both states declared their independence almost simultaneously: Bahrain became an independent state on August 14, 1971, while Qatar claimed its independence on September 3, 1971.)
- The Bahrain flag, featuring a height of 169 meters and width of 97 meters, is one of the largest flags in the world. Throughout the years, its design has undergone several changes. The original 1820 arrangement (featuring a solid red background with a narrow white band in a vertical position on the left side) remained unchanged until 1932, when a distinctive 28-triangle zigzag pattern was adopted. However, following the 1972 simplification of the dividing line’s configuration (from 28 triangles to 8), 2002 marked the transition to the current, simpler five-triangle pattern.
- By comparison, Qatar’s flag also went through significant changes: starting off with a basic red color, it had a narrow serrated white stripe added at the hoist in 1860. Then, the purple-red color was adopted, while 1932 marked the addition of diamonds and the jagged edge. In 1949, the red shade got darker, the proportions of the hoist and the fly side changed and the diamonds were dropped, resulting in more or less the flag’s familiar form that received only a mild reformation in 1971.