In 1973, oil production and revenues increased sizeably, moving Qatar out of the ranks of the world's poorest countries and providing it with one of the highest per capita incomes. Despite a marked decline in levels of oil production and prices since 1982, Qatar remains a wealthy country.
Qatar's economy was in a downturn from 1982 to 1989. OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) quotas on crude oil production, the lower price for oil, and the generally unpromising outlook on international markets reduced oil earnings. In turn, the Qatari government's spending plans had to be cut to match lower income. The resulting recessionary local business climate caused many firms to lay off expatriate staff. With the economy recovering in the 1990s, expatriate populations, particularly from Egypt and South Asia, have grown again.
Oil production will not long remain at peak levels of 500,000 barrels per day (b/d), as oil fields are projected to be mostly depleted by 2023. Fortunately, large natural gas reserves have been located off Qatar's northeast coast. Qatar's proved reserves of gas are the third-largest in the world, exceeding 7 trillion cubic meters. The economy was boosted in 1991 by completion of the $1.5-billion Phase I of North Field gas development. In 1996, the Qatargas project began exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Japan. Further phases of North Field gas development costing billions of dollars are in various stages of planning and development.
Qatar's heavy industrial projects, all based in Umm Said, include a refinery with a 50,000 b/d capacity, a fertilizer plant for urea and ammonia, a steel plant, and a petrochemical plant. All these industries use gas for fuel. Most are joint ventures between European and Japanese firms and the state-owned Qatar General Petroleum Corporation (QGPC). The U.S. is the major equipment supplier for Qatar's oil and gas industry, and U.S. companies are playing a major role in North Field gas development.
Qatar pursues a vigorous program of "Qatarization," under which all joint venture industries and government departments strive to move Qatari nationals into positions of greater authority. Growing numbers of foreign-educated Qataris, including many educated in the U.S., are returning home to assume key positions formerly occupied by expatriates. In order to control the influx of expatriate workers, Qatar has tightened the administration of its foreign manpower programs over the past several years. Security is the principal basis for Qatar's strict entry and immigration rules and regulations.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $12.3 billion (1999 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 1.5% (1999 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $17,000 (1999 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
services: 50% (1996 est.)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2% (1999)
Labor force: 233,000 (1993 est.)
Unemployment rate: NA%
revenues: $5 billion
expenditures: $4 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY99/00 est.)
Industries: crude oil production and refining, fertilizers, petrochemicals, steel reinforcing bars, cement
Industrial production growth rate: NA%
Electricity - production: 6.715 billion kWh (1998)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
other: 0% (1998)
Electricity - consumption: 6.245 billion kWh (1998)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (1998)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (1998)
Agriculture - products: fruits, vegetables; poultry, dairy products, beef; fish
Exports: $6.7 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.)
Exports - commodities: petroleum products 80%, fertilizers, steel
Exports - partners: Japan 50%, Singapore 12%, South Korea 9%, US, UAE (1997)
Imports: $4.2 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and transport equipment, food, chemicals
Imports - partners: UK 25%, France 13%, Japan 10%, US 9%, Italy 6% (1997)
Debt - external: $10 billion (1998 est.)
Economic aid - recipient: $NA
Currency: 1 Qatari riyal (QR) = 100 dirhams
Exchange rates: Qatari riyals (QR) per US$1 - 3.6400 riyals (fixed rate)
Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March