Key information

Full name State of Qatar

Capital Doha

Area 11,437 square kilometres

Population 1.8 million

Head of state Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani (since June 1995)

Currency Qatari rial

Source: MEED

Qatar is one of the world’s richest countries, with per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of $100,466 in 2012, according to the Washington-based IMF.

Hydrocarbon revenues are the mainstay of the economy, accounting for about 60 per cent of GDP. Qatar is home to 15 per cent of global gas reserves, and it is estimated these will last at least 200 years.

The country is the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and has the third-largest gas reserves after Russia and Iran, on top of proven oil reserves of 25 billion barrels. Oil was discovered in 1940 and the country’s wells should keep pumping for another 95 years.

In recent years, its economy is one of the fastest growing in the world. Doha’s GDP has more than trebled since 2006, rising from $60.8bn to $184.7bn in 2012.

Doha key areas of development are centred on investment in world-class education, research and technology development, and healthcare

GDP growth was regularly above 15 per cent between 2006 and 2010, but the rate of expansion is easing now that its LNG investment programme has been completed. Growth slowed from 13 per cent in 2011 to 6.6 per cent in 2012, and is expected to drop to 5.5 per cent in 2013.

With developing countries such as India and China likely to move from using traditional fossil fuels to cleaner alternatives, including natural gas, demand for Qatar’s resources should continue to grow.

Nevertheless, the government has committed to transforming the economy from being heavily reliant on hydrocarbon income to one that is knowledge-driven through its National Vision 2030. It outlines four key areas of development: human; social; economic; and environmental. The plan is centred on investment in world-class education, research and technology development, and healthcare.

The Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, a non-profit government organisation led by Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al-Misned, consort of the emir, is leading this transformation. Qatar Investment Authority is responsible for investing the country’s wealth. It has created a global portfolio of real estate including properties in London and New York, and has made high-profile acquisitions such as the Harrods department store in London and shares in Canada’s Raffles Hotel Group and UK/Dutch oil major Shell. According to regional projects tracker MEED Projects, Qatar is the third-largest projects market in the GCC, behind Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The total value of projects planned and under way in the Gulf country at the end of January was $223.4bn.

Largest listed companies by market capitalisation*
  ($bn)
Qatar National Bank 25.7
Industries Qatar 21
Ezdan Real Estate Company 14.7
Qatar Telecom 6.8
Masraf al-Rayan 5.6
Qatar Islamic Bank 5.1
The Commercial Bank of Qatar 5
Qatar Electricity & Water Company 3.7
Qatar Fuel Company 3.6
Doha Bank 3.2
*=As at December 2012. Source: Doha Stock Exchange