COUNTRY NAME: State of Qatar
LAND AREA: 11,400 km2
POPULATION: 840,926 (2010 est.)
LANGUAGE: Arabic (official), English (commercial)
CURRENCY: 1 Qatari Riyal (QAR) = 100 Dirham; 1 EUR = 4.95 QAR (Nov. 2010)
MAIN CITIES: Doha (capital), Ras Laffan
NATIONAL DAY: 3 September – Indepence Day
TIME ZONE: Standard Time is GMT + 3
According to the International Monetary Fund, Qatar’s economy was expected to grow by 29% in 2009, the fastest rate in more than a decade, as its natural gas production almost doubled. The country was also expected to maintain budget and current account surpluses. Qatar is also identified as one of the high growth markets offering most potential for exporters and investors.
In early 2009, the IMF said, “Qatar is the fastest growing economy in the Gulf region and has so far managed well the impact of the global financial crisis. Construction, manufacturing and financial services were all projected to grow at a strong pace. Qatar’s economy expanded an estimated 16.4% last year and is expected to perform at least as strongly in 2009.” While oil and gas will remain the mainstay of the Qatar economy into the foreseeable future, significant efforts and investment are being made into the development and expansion of several economic sectors in order to diverse the country’s sources of revenue. Real estate, petrochemicals, financial services, including Islamic banking, research and development, IT and tourism are regarded as particularly potential and offer notable business and investment opportunities. Services such as health and education are receiving significant investment. The country’s non-energy sector has been expanding with Qatar seeking to increase its contribution to the economy to 80% by 2015. The petrochemicals industry already constitutes an important sector for Qatar which is now the third largest petrochemicals producer in the Middle East. The country currently exports 8.5m metric tonnes per annum and plans to invest in the sector to boost exports to 28mta by 2012, which if achieved would make it the world’s largest producer. Other important non-oil industries receiving an injection of investment are cement, metals and chemicals. Over recent years Qatar’s economy has experienced rapid growth, largely because of an increase in its gas production. Five more liquefied natural gas (LNG) “supertrains” are expected to come on stream by 2010, driving remarkable rates of real economic growth, although there were some technical delays in the first super-train, which delivered its first shipment in March 2009. Qatar has been increasing gas exports to boost economic growth and in 2009, it stepped up the search for new and short-term customers for its LNG as demand in some of its main markets, especially Japan and South Korea, waned owing to the global recession. With proven reserves of 25trn cu metres and production capacity expected to reach 77m tonnes by the end of the decade, Qatar is seeking to become the world’s leading supplier of LNG. It is becoming increasingly important as a supplier of gas to Europe and has signed deals with several countries in the EU.
Real Estate & Construction
The real estate and construction sector has been booming over recent years and was one of Qatar’s drivers of growth in 2007 and 2008 with demand strong in various different niche areas of the market. The sector provides continuing opportunities for developers and contractors, as a result of the ongoing government-backed infrastructure and housing projects. The residential market has proven especially strong with growth stimulated by increasingly prosperous Qatari nationals as well as the influx of expatriates over recent years pushing up demand. Qatar has unveiled some ambitious mixed use integrated real estate projects at the luxury end of the market such as the $2.5 billion Pearl Qatar and the $5.5bn Lussail waterfront development, the latter set to provide housing for some 200,000 people. Other projects have been unveiled to cater for rising demand at the lower and middle range of the market. Meanwhile, Qatar’s commercial real estate market has been expanding with around 800 new towers under way or planned.
While Qatar already has an extensive transport network, this is being rapidly expanded to meet present and future needs of the economy. Planned spending on major transport infrastructure projects is estimated to be around $21.6 billion. Among the new developments is a $2.7bn causeway that will link Qatar and Bahrain, which at more than 40 km long will be the longest such link in the world; the New Doha International Airport, whose construction is expected to be completed in 2015; and an important new port project at Mesaieed.
Qatar hopes to see the expansion of its role as a prime venue for specialised tourism activities with areas like business meetings and conferences, sporting events and cultural tourism seen as offering the most potential. The country is fortunate in its having many archaeological sites, island resorts, seaside towns and historical attractions such as forts and castles which are more than sufficient to satisfy the curiosity of the tourist. Other tourist attractions relate to Qatar’s extensive sports and leisure facilities including golf, horse riding, falconry, boating, swimming and deep-sea fishing.
Despite the global downturn, Qatar has remained a desirable location for many and continues to attract talented professionals who are helping to maintain its growth, according to the findings of a REED survey released in July 2009. According to the report, energy, property and construction, aviation, information technology, financial services, accountancy and banking remain the strongest sectors for attracting overseas talent. Nevertheless, Qatar saw its population fall by more than 40 thousand people in June 2009 from May, after witnessing growth for the first five months of the year, official data has shown. As of 30 June 2009, the population stood at 1.61 million people, compared with 1.65 million in May, according to data released by the Qatar Statistics Authority. In the beginning of June, the authority said Qatar’s population grew 6.5 percent to 1.65 million in the first five months of the year from 1.55 million in December 2008. The majority of the country’s population is comprised of expatriate workers. It can also be mentioned here that Qatar has pursued a determined “Qatarisation” policy under which all joint venture industries and government departments seek to place Qatari nationals into managerial and decision making positions. As a result growing numbers of foreign-educated Qataris have been returning home to assume key positions formerly occupied by expatriates.
Research & Development
Qatar aims to establish itself as a centre for research and development in the Gulf and one of the cornerstones of the policy in this regard is the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), which was officially opened on 16 March. A project of the Qatar Foundation, QSTP is part of the larger Qatar Education City, which is being developed as a key component of the country’s programme to expand its skills resources and build a knowledge-based economy. Education City is a major educational and cultural development in Qatar housing some of the world’s leading academic institutions on a 7-million square-metre site and is set to position Doha as a key centre for education and scientific research in the Gulf.
Qatar’s telecommunications sector has undergone major changes over the past decade at a time when the country has gone through a period of economic boom. Supplier and regulator Qatar Public Telecommunications Corporation − now known as Qatar Telecom QSC (Qtel) − offered 45% of its share capital to the public in 1998. Its revenues increased from $295 million in 1997 to $2.8 billion by 2007. Qtel has reported a 33.1% increase in its mobile subscriber numbers for 2008, giving it a customer base of 1.683 million. There is a strong demand among Qataris for multiple handset ownership and subscriptions, an opportunity that new market entrant Vodafone is hoping to tap into. In 2006, Qatar established ictQATAR as the new regulator of ICT activities, tasked with protecting consumers and fostering new and innovative ICT technologies. ictQATAR has taken initiatives in e-education, e-health, e-business, e-government, cyber security and infrastructure. ictQATAR has also licensed a consortium comprising Vodafone Qatar and Qatar Foundation to be the second GSM carrier in the country. The new integrated real estate developments now under construction promise a qualitative jump in available ICT infrastructure and services, since comprehensive broadband services are an integral design feature.
In 2005, Qatar enacted a law for the establishment of Free Zones aimed at further diversifying the economy. Companies setting up in the free zones can operate and trade without a local sponsor or service agent, and enjoy 100% non-Qatari ownership and many other benefits.
Protection and management of the environment is one of the four pillars enshrined in Qatar’s National Vision 2030, the country’s strategy for the next two decades which was issued in October 2008. Economic diversification along with population expansion, industrialization and a growth in construction projects have all put tremendous pressures on Qatar’s environment so action is being taken to address the threats posed to environmental sustainability. Raising awareness among Qataris of the importance of conservation is a key plank of the country’s attempts to preserve its fragile ecosystem. The Ministry of Environment takes overall responsibility for balancing the often conflicting needs of economic growth and environmental protection.
Source: Austro-Arab Trade Directory 2011.
The mentioned data are subject to modification. No responsibility is taken for the correctness of the details provided.
Last modified: 28 January 2011