It seems like an age since 2010, when the tiny oil-rich nation of Qatar won the coveted bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. In less than three years, the country will be ringing to the sound of cheers, chants and whistles as fans converge for the first time to an Arab nation for the prestigious footballing tournament.
Winning the bid was a triumph for Qatar, a vindication of its (relatively) liberal values in a conservative Middle East and a testament to its abundant wealth. For a small country of 2.6 million people (as of 2017), the Persian Gulf emirate has some serious financial muscle to flex, largely thanks to its massive oil, gas and petrochemical reserves. Its GDP per capita, last recorded at USD63,222.10 in 2018, is equivalent to 501 percent of the world’s average, making it among the world’s richest nations for 20 years now.
Such a feat has become even more remarkable since June 2017, when the governments of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt—the so-called Anti-Terror Quartet—announced they would be severing all diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar over its alleged support for terrorism. The blockade stoked fears that the Qatari economy would plunge into outright recession, especially if its oil and gas exports were hurt.
However, by redrawing its trade routes and bolstering its banks with large public deposits, Qatar has defied concerns that its economy would be decimated, keeping its exports safe and economy ticking. Economic reforms, such as the new foreign investment law, along with big development projects such as the expansion of the LNG-rich North Field are expected to give the economy an added vital boost.
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October - November 2019