Qatar flag Qatar: Economic and Political Overview

The economic context of Qatar

Economic Indicators

The Emirate’s economy is heavily concentrated in the gas industry, which represents two-thirds of its GDP and almost 80% of export earnings. Qatar's decade-long endeavors to diversify the economy reached fruition with the successful hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Following robust growth in 2022 (4.9% of GDP) fueled by elevated natural gas prices and the aforementioned World Cup, the Qatari economy continued to expand in 2023, albeit at a slower rate (1.6% as per the IMF latest estimates). Near-term growth normalization is anticipated, with non-hydrocarbon sectors driven by public project investments, the North Field LNG expansion project, and subsequent benefits in logistics, manufacturing, and trade. Over the medium term, growth is projected to average around 5.5%, bolstered by substantial LNG production expansion and initial reform progress from the forthcoming Third National Development Strategy (NDS3).

The central government fiscal surplus increased to approximately 10% of GDP in 2022. Substantial fiscal surpluses persisted through the third quarter of 2023, supporting a projected surplus of 7.5% of GDP for the year. At the same time, non-hydrocarbon revenues increased due to higher corporate earnings, driven by the rise in tourist arrivals. The debt-to-GDP ratio decreased marginally in 2023 (to 41.4%, from 42.4% one year earlier), and is expected to follow a downward trend over the forecast horizon, reaching 46.3% by 2025 (IMF). With the decline in global commodity prices and the normalization of domestic demand, headline inflation eased to below 3% in 2023 and is expected to remain around 2% over the medium term. The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) holds total assets estimated to be around 200% of GDP. Its overseas investments encompass diverse sectors including sports, entertainment, media, ports, real estate, retail, and airports. This strategy enables the emirate to utilize its external surplus, enhance the country's prestige, and generate additional investment income. Banks exhibit strong capitalization, liquidity, and profitability, with a capital adequacy ratio of 19% and a return on equity of 14.6% as of Q2/2023.

Qatar is overall a politically stable, rich country (it had the fifth-highest income per capita in the world in 2022 according to the World Bank, PPP, at USD 114,648). It is estimated that 85% of the inhabitants are expatriates, whose rights are limited, despite the progress made with recent reforms. According to World Bank, unemployment is almost null, representing 0.1% of the total labour force in 2022.

 
Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 236.26234.22244.69251.90269.00
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 4.21.62.02.05.9
GDP per Capita (USD) 80,57378,69681,40083,38288,598
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 42.539.437.336.135.0
Inflation Rate (%) 5.03.12.62.42.2
Current Account (billions USD) 63.1243.8738.0833.1630.98
Current Account (in % of GDP) 26.718.715.613.211.5

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database, October 2021

Main Sectors of Industry

Qatar’s agricultural sector is almost non-existent due to the country’s climate and a lack of arable land. It is estimated to account for only 0.3% of GDP, employing 1% of the workforce (World Bank, latest data available). Although Qatar experiences a dry climate, it has embraced and implemented sustainable and intelligent technologies, such as automated irrigation systems, hydroponics, and aquaponics, to improve both the quality and quantity of fruits and vegetables. The country is self-sufficient in fresh poultry and dairy.

The economy of Qatar is based on the oil and natural gas sectors: proved natural gas reserves represent 11% of the world total and the third-largest in the world, while proved oil reserves exceed 25.2 billion barrels, which means the production could continue for over 50 years at current levels. Qatar's liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry has attracted tens of billions of dollars in foreign investment and made Qatar the world’s second-largest exporter of this commodity (after the U.S.). Being the country’s main economic engine and government revenue source, Qatar is highly dependent on the oil & gas sector, thus after the drop in commodity prices in recent years, it tried to diversify its economy, focusing mainly on manufacturing, construction, leading non-oil GDP to steadily rise to just over half the total. The construction sector in particular was booming due to the preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup of football. Overall, the industrial sector contributes 65.4% of GDP and 40% of employment, while manufacturing accounts for 9% of GDP (World Bank).

The services sector is based mainly on financial services and is estimated to account for 38.5% of GDP, giving employment to 59% of the active population (World Bank). According to official data, approximately 8% of the country's GDP in 2022 came from the financial sector (USD 19 billion). Tourism is also an important economic sector: the “Qatar Tourism Strategy 2030” set a target to attract over 6 million international visitors a year by 2030. The country saw a 5-year tourism high with 4 million visitors in 2023. The transportation and storage sector contribution to Qatar’s GDP as of 2022 stood at USD 9.9 billion.

 
Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 1.2 54.0 44.8
Value Added (in % of GDP) 0.3 65.6 38.3
Value Added (Annual % Change) 7.7 2.5 6.8

Source: World Bank, Latest Available Data. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 

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Indicator of Economic Freedom

Definition:

The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.}}

Score:
72/100
World Rank:
31
Regional Rank:
3

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation

 

Business environment ranking

Definition:

The business rankings model measures the quality or attractiveness of the business environment in the 82 countries covered by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Country Forecast reports. It examines ten separate criteria or categories, covering the political environment, the macroeconomic environment, market opportunities, policy towards free enterprise and competition, policy towards foreign investment, foreign trade and exchange controls, taxes, financing, the labour market and infrastructure.

Score:
7.20/10
World Rank:
28/82

Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit - Business Environment Rankings 2020-2024

 

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Latest Update: May 2024

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