Despite sectors such as banking being affected by the global financial downturn, the overall performance of Qatar’s economy has been one of the best in the world in 2009.

Doha marked a significant milestone in 2008 with the gas sector overtaking oil as the largest contributor to overall GDP.

Qatar has benefited enormously from the fact that about 75 per cent of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports are sold on the basis of long-term contracts of about 20 years, with only about 25 per cent of its output vulnerable to price fluctuations on global markets.

Qatar’s gas exports are expected to soar from 30 million to 54 million tonnes by the end of the year. And unlike oil, gas exports are not subject to the Opec quotas that have curtailed the oil production of other GCC states.

LNG export earnings, combined with the fact the state has budgeted for public spending on an oil price of $40 a barrel in 2009 and can therefore expect a budget surplus, have put Doha in a position where it can support struggling banks and ensure Qatar’s economy remains at the top of the GCC growth league in 2010.