Posted on April 30, 2020

Qatar’s bid to continue diversifying its economy, while introducing a QR75bn ($20.6bn) stimulus package to ease the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, is explored in detail in a new report by the global research and advisory firm Oxford Business Group (OBG).

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The Report: Qatar 2020 shines a spotlight on the country’s list of megaprojects, many of which will support the country as it prepares to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. It also considers Qatar’s plans to increase liquefied natural gas (LNG) output by around two-thirds, while cushioning the industry against the recent fall in demand for hydrocarbons, fuelled by the coronavirus.  

Key initiatives highlighted include the planned expansion of Hamad International Airport, which is expected to begin this year. Projects undertaken at Qatar’s ports, and the part they have played in opening up new trade routes and boosting cruise arrivals, are also examined. Qatar’s decision to sharpen its focus on gas production, after withdrawing from the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in early 2019, is given wide-ranging coverage.  There is in-depth analysis of the expansion planned for the North Field – the world’s largest non-associated gas field – to around 126m tonnes per annum by 2027. In addition, the report considers the key part that Qatar is poised to play in meeting growing global demand for cleaner sources of power generation.

Tourism has been identified as one of the sectors of Qatar’s economy with high-growth potential, boosted by improvements to infrastructure and hospitality. OBG’s report documents Qatar’s efforts to increase visitor numbers by broadening its offerings to include sporting events, museums, archaeological sites and medical facilities. It also charts the progress made by the authorities since the blockade to tap new source markets. The country’s rapidly developing education sector is another focus. OBG considers the key contribution that infrastructure investment is making to the sector’s expansion. It also tracks the growing role played by the private sector in boosting activity across the segments.

The Report: Qatar 2020 contains a viewpoint by HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar, together with a detailed sector-by-sector guide for investors. It also features a wide range of interviews with other high-profile personalities, including: Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari, Minister of Commerce and Industry; Ali Al Waleed Al Thani, CEO, Investment Promotion Agency; Khalid bin Khalifa Al Thani, CEO, Qatargas; Abdulrahman M Darwish, CEO, KBM Group Qatar; and Khaled Sam Hosn, CEO, Mall of Qatar.

Commenting ahead of the launch, Oliver Cornock, OBG’s Editor-in-Chief, said that strong fundamentals and sound diversification plans had provided firm foundations for Qatar’s economic development, despite the inevitable, near-term effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Qatar has introduced swift and effective measures to support both its healthcare system and the private sector as the country grapples with the impact of the coronavirus,” he said. “While the difficulties it faces shouldn’t be underestimated, analysis from the IMF indicating that Qatar has recovered from the economic impact of lower oil prices in 2014-16 and the ongoing blockade suggest the country is well placed to reach the longer-term goals outlined in its development plan, the National Vision 2030.”

Jana Treeck, the Group’s Managing Director for the Middle East, agreed that while the world currently faces unprecedented challenges from the pandemic, Qatar’s efforts to keep the fiscal balance in surplus, while also channelling funds into areas of the economy identified as ripe for growth, will serve it well. “At $57.8bn, the 2020 budget is the highest in over five years, with sectors such as health and education among the key beneficiaries,” Treeck said. “With its drive to boost LNG production gaining pace and a robust pipeline of major projects, both for the FIFA 2022 World Cup and beyond, Qatar’s push to broaden its economic base at the start of a new decade look to be maintaining momentum.”

The Report: Qatar 2020 marks the culmination of more than 12 months of field research by a team of analysts from Oxford Business Group. The publication assesses trends and developments across the economy, including those in macroeconomics, infrastructure, banking and others.

The Report: Qatar 2020 has been produced with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Qatar Chamber and Grant Thornton Qatar. It is available online and in print.