Qatar Economy Facts
Qatar has the world’s highest per capita income. Oil and natural gas form the basis of the strong Qatari economy and together account for half of the gross domestic product (GDP), half of the state’s revenues and about 85 percent of export income. However, an increasing emphasis is placed on finding new sources of income for the future.
Conditions in the economy have changed a lot in recent years. Qatar has not least increased its spending on infrastructure, in part due to major construction projects ahead of the 2022 Soccer World Cup. That kind of expenses for the World Cup finals remain high.
- Countryaah.com: Major imports by Qatar, covering a full list of top products imported by the country and trade value for each product category.
Qatar’s economy has long depended entirely on oil recovery, which began as early as the 1940s. Most of the oil has been exported and the country’s income has therefore varied with world market prices. But during the 1990s, extraction of natural gas began to play a greater role. Although the sharp fall in oil prices from mid-2014 did affect the economy, it did not contribute to the same economic downturn as during the low oil price of the 1990s. Gas exports together with the future fund that Qatar has built up with oil and gas revenues meant that Qatarians so far hardly had to worry about the economy.
In the fall of 2019, the state reported the first negative quarter in the economy in several years. Both the construction industry and the manufacturing industry had then gone worse than expected. By 2020, the state was expecting a surplus, but the expenditure had increased especially for personnel in professions where qualified knowledge is required. And since then, the corona crisis, with a race in global oil demand, has made the economic future uncertain in most places.
Qatar has the largest gas resources in the world after Russia and Iran, and is the world’s largest exporter of natural gas. Qatar has the world’s largest natural gas field. The gas is estimated to last for about 300 years and the oil for almost 60 years.
The largest customers are in Japan, South Korea, EU countries, India and Singapore. Imports, which come mainly from the EU, the US, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and China, consist of machinery and transport equipment, food and chemical products.
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Check this abbreviation website to find three letter ISO codes for all countries in the world, including QAT which represents the country of Qatar. Check findjobdescriptions to learn more about Qatar.
The increasing extraction of gas contributed to the country having the fastest growing economy in the Middle East in the early 2000s. Average growth, which was around 8 percent at the beginning of the century, was 19 percent in 2010. Over the following decade, growth has slowed, to land fairly stable at levels around 2 percent (before the corona crisis).
A blockade initiated by neighboring countries against Qatar in the summer of 2017 has had a negative impact, with falling values in the country’s stock market and a reduced foreign currency reserve. Qatar has tried to meet this, among other things, with more attractive conditions for capital from abroad.
The long-term economic policy, within the framework of the Qatar National Vision 2030 development program, is aimed at reducing oil and gas dependence and instead creating new sources of income, primarily through investments in other industries, infrastructure, tourism and more. The country also wants to create a more knowledge-based society and therefore invests heavily in education, research, telecom and so on.
In 2002, it became possible for foreign companies to enter Qatar and own companies together with the state. Privatizations are now allowed in areas such as energy and water distribution, healthcare, education, ports, telecommunications and tourism. Privatization of the manufacturing industry is also ongoing. Previously, foreign ownership was not allowed to exceed 49 percent in listed companies, but at the end of 2018, the government announced that foreign wholly owned ownership would be allowed in most industries. In order to attract investors from abroad, it has become easier to obtain a residence permit, while the right for foreign citizens to own real estate is about to be expanded.
The harshly criticized conditions for migrant workers have improved.
Qatar has taken out large foreign loans in order to develop natural gas extraction and other industries. However, the country’s energy reserves guarantee that there will be no problems paying off the loans, which have been obtained on favorable terms.
The comprehensive infrastructure plans for the Soccer World Cup 2022 include new road networks, the expansion of the railway (including high-speed trains), the port for passenger traffic and greater capacity for air traffic.
Shipping is important for Qatar’s relations with the outside world. The largest port, on the east coast, is also the oil terminal. The deep harbor of the capital Doha plays a major role in foreign trade. In addition, Ras Laffan in the northeast has the world’s largest port facility for the shipment of liquefied gas.
Qatar is not yet a major tourist country, but the state is investing in tourism as an alternative source of income for oil and natural gas in the future. A government agency for tourism has been formed and visa rules have been simplified.
FACTS – FINANCE
GDP per person
US $ 69,026 (2018)
US $ 192,009 million (2018)
1.4 percent (2018)
Agriculture’s share of GDP
0.2 percent (2018)
Manufacturing industry’s share of GDP
9.2 percent (2018)
The service sector’s share of GDP
42.6 percent (2018)
-0.4 percent (2019)
Government debt’s share of GDP
48.6 percent (2018)
US $ 84,288 million (2018)
US $ 33,307 million (2018)
US $ 16,652 million (2018)
Commodity trade’s share of GDP
63 percent (2018)
Main export goods
natural gas, oil and petroleum products, manure, steel
Largest trading partner
Japan, China, EU, USA, Singapore
The former emir returns to Qatar for the first time since he was deposed, to attend his mother’s funeral.
Labor law reforms
A law is passed that allows the formation of trade unions, prohibits child labor, gives employees the right to strike and before the eight-hour working day.
Impaired relationship with Russia
Chechnya’s former leader is killed in an explosion in Doha. Qatar’s relations with Russia deteriorate after two Russian agents are detained as a result of the explosion. They will be deported to Russia later in the year.