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How do you pronounce 'Qatar'?


Posted on December 2, 2010 at 11:00 AM

Updated Thursday, Dec 2 at 11:02 AM

As FIFA announced Qatar as the winning bid to host the 2022 World Cup (crushing the hopes of many Seattle soccer fans), it set off a big debate: How do you pronounce Qatar?

The commonly used pronunciation by people, including American TV broadcasters and the FIFA officials on Thursday, is "KUH-tar."  But according to, Qatar is pronounced something between "cutter" and "gutter."

Many sounds of the Arabic language are completely alien to native English speakers, writes, such as the initial consonant in "Qatar." The "q" makes a hard "k" sound, but originates deep within the throat. And the word's first vowel sounds similar to "aw" (as in "Aw, shucks") but with less emphasis on the "w." And the middle "t" is a veralized consonant, which means the back of the tongue should be pressed against the roof of one's mouth to achieve the correct sound. It should sound similar to "butter," but more guttural. includes an audio pronunciation of "Qatar" by Terri DeYoung, a professor of Arabic.

In our search online, an audio pronunciation of "Qatar" came up on the Merriam Webster Dictionary website, but it sounds closer to "Kotter" (as in "Welcome back, Kotter"). I'd go with Professor DeYoung's version.

If you're also wondering where Qatar is, it's a small Middle Eastern country in the Persian Gulf next to Saudi Arabia. The CIA World Factbook has lots of factoids on the country.