The Qatar Flag
One story claims that the colour of the Qatar was originally red. However, the dye used for the flag was unstable, and in the hot sun the colour faded to the maroon used today. As this was more attractive, the colour was kept, coming to be known as The Qatar Red.
A flag flutters in the wind in this 1964 picture of Doha harbour.
It is also possible that Qatar chose the maroon colour to distinguish the flag from the red used by neighboring countries such as Bahrain.
If true, it is probably quite a good thing - we really like the colour (we have even used it for our blog.) However, it is also worth noting the colour is close to the royal purple - a dye that was originally manufactured by crushing snails on a Qatar island.
Encyclopedia Britannica mentions the possibility that the flag may originate from an 1868 treaty between Britain and the Al Thanis. Although there is no mention of this in Rahman's "The Emergence of Qatar." The flag may also originate from earlier requirements by the British that Qatar ships carry flags to distinguish themselves from privateers.
Description: Original Design | Current Design
World Flags states that flag was originally all red, but had the white added to conform with a British directive in the mid 19th century.
The flag would originally vary in design, according to the owner's fancy. Sometimes the edge would be serrated, sometimes straight. Some would add the name of the country in Arabic, while others added small diamonds along the serrated edge.
The nine points of the serrated edge came into force in 1916, after the Anglo Qatar treaty guaranteeing Qatar British protection, and signifies that Qatar was the 9th Emirates state to come under British protection.
The flag consists of a white base which is separated by a serrated edge from the maroon end of the flag. The flag has not changed in design since the country's independence in 1971, and even then the change was only one of proportion.
The contrasting colours of the flag also have contrasting meanings, the red standing for the blood lost in Qatar's many wars, the white for the peace Qatar hopes for in the future.
Below: The Qatar Flag flutters in Doha's Souq Waqif to the background noise of birds and the market burble.
What does your flag mean to you? A Gulf Times article which includes the ruminations of a Qatari on the meaning of his flag.
Flag of Qatar Britannica article on the origins of the flag.
Qatar Flag: World Flags Article
Flag of Qatar: Short Wikipedia article on the flag.