Ruled by the al-Thani family since the mid-1800s, Qatar transformed itself from a poor British protectorate noted mainly for pearling into an independent state with significant oil and natural gas revenues.
As of 2007, oil and natural gas revenues had enabled Qatar to attain the highest per capita income in the world.
While oil and gas will probably remain the backbone of Qatar’s economy for some time to come, the country seeks to stimulate the private sector and develop a “knowledge economy”. In 2004, it established the Qatar Science & Technology Park to attract and serve technology-based companies and entrepreneurs from overseas and within Qatar. Qatar also established Education City, which consists of international colleges. For the 15th Asian Games in Doha, it established Sports City, consisting of Khalifa stadium, the Aspire Sports Academy, aquatic centres, exhibition centres and many other sports related buildings and centres.
Qatar is aiming to become a role model for economic and social transformation in the region. Large scale investment in all social and economic sectors has lead to the development of a strong financial market.
Qatar is emerging as one of the most dynamic economies in the Middle East. It has the highest per capita income in the world and enjoys one of the fastest growing GDPs, reaching 19% real GDP, and valued in 2010 at US$128 billion in 2010.
Politically stable, Qatar’s risk rating leads the region, with Standard and Poor rating at A+ and Moody’s at A1, reflecting not only the fundamental soundness and strength of the Qatar economy, but also the favourable regulatory, legal and business environment.
The government is using its vast oil and gas wealth for investment, infrastructure and expansion in a wide range of sectors, including energy, health, education, transport and infrastructure.
Reliance on crude oil exports has been replaced by an ambitious and progressive approach to the management of the nation’s economy, which focuses on developing Qatar’s huge natural gas reserves and its expansion of liquefied natural gas, petrochemicals and condensates production. This is supported by a programme of economic liberalisation and diversification into a more broadly based economy.
Qatar is a Muslim country and whilst local culture is valued, honoured and protected, progress and contributing to positive global initiatives, has meant that Qatar now takes a leading role on the global stage.
Qatari women can be found in prominent positions in the country, and there are many business women in a wide range of sectors at senior levels.
By 2030, Qatar aims to be an advanced society capable of sustaining its development and providing a high standard of living for all of its people. Qatar’s 2030 Vision defines the long-term outcomes for the country and provides a framework within which national strategies and implementation plans can be developed.
The National Vision addresses 5 major challenges facing Qatar:
- Modernization and preservation of traditions
- Needs of this generation and the needs of future generations
- Managed growth and uncontrolled expansion
- Size and the quality of the expatriate labor force and the selected path of development
- Economic growth, social development and environmental management
The National Vision foresees development through four interconnected pillars:
- Human Development: development of all its people to enable them to sustain a prosperous society
- Social Development: development of a just and caring society based on high moral standards, and capable of playing a significant role in global partnerships for development
- Economic Development: development of a competitive and diversified economy capable of meeting the needs of, and securing a high standard of living for, all its people both for the present and for the future
- Environmental Development: management of the environment such that there is harmony between economic growth, social development and environmental protection.
In April 2011, The Edge magazine published a very readable article – Boom Town – on the Construction Sector in Qatar.
April also saw the publication of the National Development Strategy 2011-16, which is set to achieve the goals of the Qatar National Vision 2030.
In June 2011, Reuters reported that Qatar plans to offer the first tender for its railway and metro system in the following three months. The total cost of the Qatar railway project will reach 130 billion riyals ($35.7 billion) and that more than 1.2 million tonnes of iron would be required for the project.
There will be a total of 100 stations in the project and there will be a tender for digging tunnels and setting up stations for the network.
Qatar plans to spend over $125 billion in the next five years on construction and energy projects and the economy is seen to grow strongly. Analysts polled by Reuters expect its economy to expand by 15.8 percent in 2011.