Economic growth and gross domestic product (GDP)                    

One of the main aims of Qatar National Vision 2030 is to diversify the economy and reduce dependence on the hydrocarbon industries. 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected Qatar’s GDP per capita will grow by 3.2% in 2020, with growth coming from a gradual recovery in oil prices and revenue diversification. 

The economy has weathered the impact of the blockade imposed 5 June 2017. Hydrocarbon exports have not been affected. The Planning and Statistics Authority (PSA) Economic Outlook 2018–2020 predicts the average real GDP growth to rise to 2.8% per annum, while the average rate of change of nominal GDP to be 8% during the same period. 

The PSA released the estimates of GDP at current and constant prices for Q2 2019 in October. GDP at current prices (Nominal GDP) is estimated at QAR163.45 bn, a decrease of 3.9% year-on-year (y-o-y) and a decrease of 2.8% against Q1 2019. GDP at constant prices (Real GDP) is estimated at QAR200.21 bn, a decrease of 1.4% y-o-y and a decrease of 0.9% against Q1 2019.

 Export, Import and Trade surplus                        

In August 2019, the total exports of goods amounted to QAR21.2 bn, a decrease of 19.7% y-o-y, and a decrease of 5.1% month on month (m-o-m). Imports amounted to QAR9.1 bn, an increase of 2.3% y-o-y but a decrease of 0.4% m‑o‑m. Qatar’s trade surplus was approximately QAR12.1 bn, a 30.8% decrease y-o-y, and a decrease of 8.3% m-o-m. 

The y-o-y decrease in total exports was mainly due to lower exports of petroleum gases and other gaseous hydrocarbons. South Korea was the top destination for exports, followed by Japan, China, India and Singapore.

The budget

The budget year was changed in 2016 to a calendar year. The State Budget for 2019, announced in December 2018, has been based on an oil price of USD55 a barrel, and is forecast to achieve a QAR4.3 bn surplus, the first in three years. Revenue is estimated at QAR211.0 bn, up 20.5% on 2018, and spending at QAR206.7 bn, up 1.7%. 

Major projects have been earmarked QAR89.6 bn (43.3%), the largest proportion, in key sectors such as health, education, infrastructure and transport, and the hosting of the 2022 FIFA World CupTM. This is a decrease of 3.6% against 2018, due to the completion of some projects, and such funding is likely to continue to decline in the next few years. However, in 2019 new projects worth QAR48 bn are expected to be awarded out of a portfolio of committed projects worth QAR421 bn. 

Infrastructure projects have been apportioned QAR33 bn (16%) for sectors including roads, water, electricity and sewerage networks, and other public facilities. Transport and communications is allocated QAR16.4 bn (7.9%), mostly for the Metro project (QAR12.0 bn), although QAR1.0 bn is for expansion to Hamad International Airport under a scheme worth QAR10.0 bn. The Qatar Public Transportation Program receives QAR3.0 bn for use between 2019 and 2021.

Land development for Qataris has been allocated QAR12.0 bn, to include water and electricity networks, sewerage, roads and other infrastructure.

The health sector has been allocated QAR22.7 bn (11.0%), for expansion in Hamad Medical Corporation facilities, National Laboratories premises, the establishment of five new primary health care centres and the completion of four. Education has been given QAR19.2 bn (9.3%), to include expansion at Qatar University and the Community College, and the establishment of new schools. Further to this, salaries and wages has been allocated QAR57.1 bn, up 9.4% on 2018, although hiring has also increased in the defence, security and public safety sectors.

For more information about major projects, see the Infrastructure section.

Inflation and cost of living 

The PSA issues the monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI), used to calculate inflation rates in Qatar. The CPI for August 2019 was 109.5, an increase of 1.20% m-o-m. The IMF stated in its Article IV consultation with Qatar in June 2019 that inflation is projected to peak at 3.7% in 2020 due to the possible introduction of VAT, but converge to 2% in the medium term. 

Population and the labour force

Qatar’s population has more than doubled in the last decade. Total population as at 30 September 2019 was 2,747,282: males 2,019,789; women 727,493. In the Labour Force report for Q1 2019, there was an increase of 2.73% compared to Q4 2018, with an unemployment rate of 0.1%. 

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