Ruled by the Al Thani family since the mid-1800s, Qatar within the last 60 years transformed itself from a poor British protectorate noted mainly for pearling into an independent state with significant oil and natural gas revenues. The continuous siphoning off of petroleum revenue through the mid-1990s by Qatari amirs permanently residing in Europe had stunted Qatar’s economic growth. Former amir HAMAD bin Khalifa Al Thani, who overthrew his father in a bloodless coup in 1995, ushered in wide-sweeping political and media reforms, unprecedented economic investment, and a growing Qatari regional leadership role, in part through the creation of the pan-Arab satellite news network Al-Jazeera and Qatar's mediation of some regional conflicts. In the 2000s, Qatar resolved its longstanding border disputes with both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and by 2007 had attained the highest per capita income in the world. Qatar did not experience domestic unrest or violence like that seen in other Near Eastern and North African countries in 2010-11, due in part to its immense wealth. Since the outbreak of regional unrest, however, Doha has prided itself on its support for many of these popular revolutions, particularly in Libya and Syria, although to the detriment of Qatar’s relations with Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which temporarily recalled their respective ambassadors from Qatar. In mid-2013, HAMAD transferred power to his 33 year-old son, the current Amir TAMIM bin Hamad - a peaceful abdication rare in the history of Arab Gulf states. TAMIM oversaw a warming of Qatar’s relations with Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE by later in 2014 and prioritized improving the domestic welfare of Qataris, including establishing advanced healthcare and education systems and expanding the country's infrastructure in anticipation of Doha's hosting of the 2022 World Cup.
Middle East, peninsula bordering the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia
petroleum, natural gas, fish
Population - distribution
most of the population is clustered in or around the capital of Doha on the eastern side of the peninsula
Arabic (official), English commonly used as a second language
DOHA (capital) 718,000 (2015)
- Conventional long form
- State of Qatar
- Conventional short form
- Local long form
- Dawlat Qatar
- Local short form
- Geographic coordinates
- 25 17 N, 51 32 E
- Time difference
- UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
Qatar’s oil and natural gas resources are the country’s main economic engine and government revenue source, driving Qatar’s high economic growth and per capita income levels, robust state spending on public entitlements, and booming construction spending, particularly as Qatar prepares to host the World Cup in 2022. Although the government has maintained high capital spending levels for ongoing infrastructure projects, low oil and natural gas prices in recent years have led the Qatari Government to tighten some spending to help stem a $12 billion budget deficit in 2016 - 7.8% of GDP.
- Total tax rate (% of commercial profits)
- Real Interest Rate
- Manufacturing, value added (% of GDP)
- Current Account Balance
- US$ -8,324,450,549
- Labor Force, Total
- Employment in Agriculture
- Employment in Industry
- Employment in Services
- Unemployment Rate
- Imports of goods and services
- US$ 63,475,274,725
- Exports of goods and services
- US$ 72,397,252,747
- Total Merchandise Trade
- FDI, net inflows
- US$ 773,901,099
- Commercial Service Exports
- US$ 14,549,725,275
fruits, vegetables; poultry, dairy products, beef; fish
liquefied natural gas, crude oil production and refining, ammonia, fertilizer, petrochemicals, steel reinforcing bars, cement, commercial ship repair
- liquefied natural gas (LNG), petroleum products, fertilizers, steel
- Japan 25.4%, India 14.6%, China 8.4%, UAE 6.8%, Singapore 5.6%, UK 5.5%, Thailand 4.2% (2015)
- machinery and transport equipment, food, chemicals
- China 11.9%, US 11.3%, UAE 9%, Germany 7.7%, Japan 6.7%, UK 5.9%, Italy 4.6%, Saudi Arabia 4.4% (2015)
- Country Risk Rating
- A somewhat shaky political and economic outlook and a relatively volatile business environment can affect corporate payment behavior. Corporate default probability is still acceptable on average.
- Business Climate Rating
- The business environment is relatively good. Although not always available, corporate financial information is usually reliable. Debt collection and the institutional framework may have some shortcomings. Intercompany transactions may run into occasional difficulties in the otherwise secure environments rated A3.
- Third largest gas reserves in the world and the largest exporter in the world of liquefied natural gas (LNG)
- Advance diversification well under way (infrastructures, industry, finance, tourism)
- Position as a net external creditor, due to the size of its financial assets abroad (mainly held by the sovereign fund Qatar Investment Authority)
- Stability of the regime of the new emir Tamim bin Hamad al- Thani
- Dependency on the hydrocarbon sector uncertainties concerning changes to the price of natural gas, particularly due to the impact of the boom in unconventional gas.
- Business climate could be better
- Dependency on foreign labor
- Risk of overcapacity in matters of investment
- Geopolitical challenges at the regional level
Activity in Qatar proved resilient in 2016 but is showing signs of slowing. The oil and gas sectors, suffering from the fall in energy prices, were operating in the red as of the beginning of 2016. They should however help support growth in 2017 with the start of production at the Barzan facility which is expected to increase liquid gas production by 21%. In 2017, the non-oil and gas economy will be mainly driven by the construction and services sectors. Construction sector remains one of the leading beneficiaries of the Qatari government’s investment policy for the FIFA World Cup 2022. Although a moratorium has been imposed on new projects, already scheduled investments are substantial and estimated at the equivalent of almost USD 180 billion. Finally, the services sector which includes financial services, property and telecommunications, should see strong growth in 2017. Inflation is likely to increase. The widespread rise in prices in 2016 was essentially a result of the increase in fuel prices following the government’s fuel subsidy cut. Additional taxes as well as the withdrawal of some subsidies are likely to continue driving inflation up in 2017.
The public balance dropped into its first deficit in over 15 years. Budget income, dependent both on oil and gas revenues (more than 40% of total budget revenues) and investment income—largely the financial surplus of Qatar Petroleum, was doubly hit by the fall in the price per barrel in 2016. Thus, the slower growth in public spending will struggle to make up for the contraction in revenues. The public deficit is likely to widen in 2017. The government is however intending to limit capital spending by scaling back non-priority projects as to reduce current spending. Among measures, they also intend to enlarge the tax base through a uniform VAT rate across all GCC countries and increase the prices of public services. Despite Qatar’s very substantial assets, the country is planning on financing the public deficit with debt. The public debt is therefore likely to increase significantly as of 2016. As borrowing in the domestic market is problematic, the authorities are essentially targeting the international markets and foreign banks.
Qatari banks remain well capitalized, and profitable despite the impact of declining oil and gas revenues on the banking system. The tightening in US monetary policy at the end of the year and the amount of capital already committed to the country’s infrastructure projects continues to limit the accumulation of deposits and increases the risks in terms of the banks’ liquidity levels. In addition, the rapid increase in the ratio of risk-weighted assets and the policy of high dividend payments means that the banks have had to undertake capital increases. The expansion of the banking system could be reaching a peak and the banks are beginning to experience pressures on their margins.
Qatar’s external accounts have felt the full impact of the fall in oil and gas prices that represent the largest proportion of the country’s exports. The current account balance should nevertheless improve slightly in 2017. The foreign trade surplus is likely to shrink significantly and account for just 22% of GDP in 2017. However, the income balance is expected to continue in deficit but at a lower level. The slowdown in the outward flow of investments abroad from Qatar and the increase in the gross external debt will result in a reduction in the financial account deficit. The large size of Qatari financial reserves should also allow it to maintain its pegging to the dollar.
Led by the Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of the reigning Al Thani family, Qatar is one of the most stable countries in the region. The small Emirate is also characterised by good governance, comparable to the United Arab Emirates. It is also renowned for its diplomatic ambitions and the living conditions of its foreign workers. It was among others a leading player in the Arab Spring through in particular its financial support for the Muslin Brotherhood. Nevertheless, this positioning in the region has undermined its image on the international stage. The holding of the 2022 World Cup is part of its bid to improve its image.