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ARAB NATIONS


COUNTRY FOCUS – QATAR


Vision of wealth and growth


dividends. Qatar is now the richest country per capita in the world and has used its new wealth for education and health reform, urban renewal, and social and financial infrastructure. Qatar’s wealth has also helped the


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nation establish its own identity on the regional and global stage through hosting Al Jazeera TV, the ‘Doha Round’ of the WTO in 2001, the Asian Games in 2006, tennis, golf and squash championships and a five-star rated airline. Occupying the ‘thumb’ of land on


the east coast of the Arabian Peninsula adjacent to Bahrain, Qatar has a land area of only 11,437 square kilometres and a population estimated at 1.6 million in August 2009 (Qatar Statistics Authority).


Exceptional economic growth Oil and gas dominate the economy, contributing almost 60 per cent of GDP. In 2008, the gas sector overtook oil as the largest contributor to the economy. Gas moved even further ahead of oil


atar’s investment in Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) over the last 15 years has paid handsome


in 2009 as the drop in oil prices and a slowdown in real estate activity led to nominal GDP growth dropping from 40.9 per cent in 2008 to a still healthy 9.2 per cent. In 2008, Qatar’s GDP per capita reached a record level of $64,661, the highest in the world. Forecasts vary but The Economist


Intelligence Unit expects GDP growth of 23.3 per cent in 2010, making it the top growth economy in the world, as massive new LNG projects come on stream. However, the country’s future prospects have been hit by weak LNG prices as the world experiences a surge in supply. GDP growth in 2011 is expected to ease to a still strong 12.7 per cent. Qatar’s imports have shown a more


impressive growth rate, averaging 43.1 per cent during the five years 2004–2008, reaching $25.1 billion. As in many other GCC countries,


the GFC has killed off-the-plan property sales in Qatar as liquidity dried up and property values fell from boom levels. Banks have struggled under the weight of dropping equity values, under-performing loans and sliding collateral values.


Oil & gas the main drivers Qatar conducts its principal oil operations through state- owned Qatar Petroleum (QP), which manages Qatar’s oil, gas, fertiliser, petrochemicals and refining enterprises in Qatar and abroad. Qatar currently has the third-


An image depicting the grand canal inside Villagio, Doha. Photo by: Kangxi emperor6868


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largest natural gas reserves in the world, after Russia and Iran. Qatar’s North Gas Field, discovered in 1971, is the largest non-associated gas field in the


AUSTRALIA AND THE ARAB COUNTRIES | 2010


Looking down the promenade of Palms from the Museum of Islamic Art. Photo by: Peter Dowley.


world, with proven reserves currently estimated at over 902 trillion cubic feet (tcf), which is equivalent to about 162 billion barrels of oil. These reserves translate into 14.4 per cent of the world total and will be sufficient to support planned production of natural gas for over 200 years. In April 2010, the Qatar Government


inaugurated a large condensate refinery that turns light oil from gas production into motor fuels and feedstock for petrochemicals, and opened the Qatalum Smelter to produce 585,000 tonnes of aluminium a year for export. Later this year, two plants for


producing liquefied natural gas (LNG) will come online. Royal Dutch Shell and Qatar Petroleum also plan to complete construction by December of a separate $19 billion facility to convert gas directly into petrol, diesel and other oil products – a facility that is groundbreaking in its scale. Government and private companies


are also pouring tens of billions of dollars into heavy industries that will create more advanced export goods, such as chemicals, plastics and metals.


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