Qatar: per capita, the world’s richest country

| January 4, 2013 | 0 Comments
The skyline of Doha.

The skyline of Doha.

By Salem Mubarak Al-Shafi
Ambassador of Qatar

The Qatar government is using its vast oil and gas resources and the funds flowing from it to develop the country’s infrastructure, education and health facilities and modern hydrocarbon operations. With proven gas reserves of more than 900 trillion standard cubic feet in its North Field, and oil reserves of more than 25.38 billion barrels, it makes sense that this Arab Gulf emirate, with a population of approximately 1.7 million, has the distinction of calling itself the world’s richest country per capita.

Qatar has secured one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, governed by a far-sighted reform policy implemented by His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Emir of the State of Qatar.

OPEC 2011 findings show that Qatar’s GDP per capita is US$98,144 and the GDP at market price is US$73.52 billion. From 1970 until 2011, Qatar’s GDP averaged US$23.4 billion, and then peaked dramatically by December 2011. Even though growth forecasts for the economy are known to fluctuate, most estimates have put Qatar’s economic growth at 10 percent per annum for at least the next five years. According to a report published by the World Bank, the GDP value of Qatar is roughly equivalent to 0.28 percent of the world economy.

Qatar’s dynamic growth is due in part to rising energy prices and higher exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG). In fact, Qatar has one third of the world’s total gas reserves. The country’s oil exploration began in 1935 at the Dukhan Field, while commercial exportation began in December 1949. Oil and natural gas account for more than 60 percent of the country’s GDP, around 85 percent of export earnings and 70 percent of government revenues.

Established in 1984, Qatargas pioneered the LNG industry in Qatar. Today Qatargas is exporting 26 million tons of LNG per year, and its customers are spread throughout the world, including Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom, Canada, China, Thailand and others.

In Canada, Qatargas supplies LNG to Repsol Energy’s Canaport LNG facility in Saint John, N.B., with its Q-Flex and Q-Max ships. The Q-Max and Q-Flex vessels are the largest LNG tankers in the world, able to carry the equivalent of approximately 5.6 billion and 4.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas, respectively. Canaport is one of the few terminals worldwide with the capacity to dock these ships.

Economic growth has been further strengthened due to Qatar’s very open and competitive economic conditions, including respect for the rule of law, stability, encouragement of private enterprise and the promotion of foreign investment.

On June 29, 2011, Qatar Airways added Canada to its global reach with the launch of the Montreal-Doha route. These flights are most useful for the more than 6,000 Canadians who live and work in Qatar.

Trade relations between Qatar and Canada are expected to expand significantly as Qatar’s economy grows, and as Canadian exporters and investors learn about the infrastructure-based opportunities in Qatar. Bilateral merchandise trade between Qatar and Canada has fluctuated significantly in recent years, but remains substantial at $162 million, according to Export Development Canada. In 2011, bilateral trade reached a record high of $459 million, of which $398 million, or 86 percent, was imports of liquefied natural gas from Qatar.

Canada’s top merchandise exports to Qatar in 2011 were iron-ore, aircraft and machinery equipment. Qatar’s service imports from Canada consist primarily of engineering, architecture and education services.

Health and education remain the most rewarding areas of co-operation between Qatar and Canada. For instance, in 2002, a technical college in Doha operated by Newfoundland and Labrador’s College of the North Atlantic (CNA), opened its doors and has brought more than 1,000 Canadians and their family members to Qatar. Approximately 500 Canadians are currently working at CNA. Meanwhile, in 2007, the University of Calgary established a nursing program in Doha, geared to educate and train nurses to fill the huge demand for the profession in Qatar. The program has grown exponentially in the past five years. In 2010, Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children signed a historic agreement to create a state-of-the-art children’s hospital with Hamad Medical Corporation, the leading provider of non-profit health care in Doha, Qatar.

Furthermore, prestigious companies such as Norsk Hydro ASA, Forrec Ltd., and SNC-Lavalin ProFac have established operations in Qatar, along with other well-known companies in the high-tech and service sectors.

In 2005, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) was founded with the goal of strengthening Qatar’s economy by diversifying it into new asset classes. Its growing portfolio of long-term strategic investments is helping to balance the state’s huge wealth in natural resources.

Qatar is a multicultural nation whose goal is to achieve multiple global partnerships with various industry sectors. To make that happen, the Emir has created an environment that facilitates the needs and lifestyles of expatriates who wish to live and do business in Qatar. Indeed, Qatar is a country designed with expatriates in mind.
Salem Mubarak Al-Shafi is the ambassador of Qatar to Canada. He can be reached by email at or by phone at (613) 241-4917.

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Category: Diplomatica

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