Qatar flag Qatar: Economic outline

Economic Outline

Economic Indicators

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

Qatar lost its status of leading exporter of liquefied natural gas to Australia in 2020 but holds the third largest gas reserves in the world (estimated at 12% of the global total in 2021). The Emirate’s economy is thus heavily concentrated in the gas industry, which represents two-thirds of its GDP and almost 80% of export earnings. Like other Gulf monarchies, Qatar has been hit by the global decline in oil prices since 2014. However, the economic results have been better than that of its neighbours, due to successful economic diversification, namely via the development of large-scale projects. The country weathered the diplomatic rift with other Gulf crisis by finding new import and export routes, with its growth rate reaching 0.8% in 2019. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it plummeted to -3.6% in 2020 but came back to +1.9% in 2021. Subject to the post-pandemic global economic recovery, it is expected to bounce back to 4% in 2022 in a conclusion of an expected boom in the services sector ahead of the FIFA 2022 World Cup (IMF, October 2021).

General government debt has grown from 62.3% of GDP in 2019 to 72.1% in 2020 as the country continued to borrow on international markets and then back to 59% in 2021. The IMF anticipates a debt reduction in 2022 and 2023, with levels reaching 53.1% and 46.7% of GDP respectively. Current account surplus narrowed to 2.4% of GDP in 2019 from 9.1% a year earlier as global energy prices fell. However the negative economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fall in oil prices translated into a deficit in 2020 (-2.4% of GDP) before returning to positive territory in 2021 (+8.2%). It is expected to reach 11.6% in 2022 and 7.3% in 2023. In the medium term, the expansion of North Field gas projects is expected to be completed by 2024, further boosting gas output. Qatar has been implementing an economic diversification program to lower its dependency on the hydrocarbon sector, and in December 2018 the country announced it would leave OPEC in January 2019 to focus its efforts on natural gas (mainly due to the diplomatic tensions with neighbouring countries). New projects are planned in infrastructure and telecommunications, and various construction projects are in progress in preparation for the World Cup in 2022. Inflation was estimated to have fallen to -0.7% in 2019 and -2.7% in 2020 but came back in 2021 with a jump to 8.2%. The IMF estimates inflation to increase to 11.6% in 2022 and  7.3% in 2023 in its latest World Economic Outlook of October 2021. Indeed, Qatar is planning the introduction of a 5% VAT in 2022.

In 2022, the country’s most immediate challenge remains the economic, social and public health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Qatar is overall a politically stable, rich country (it had the second highest income per capita in the world in 2021 according to the World Bank, PPP). It is estimated that 85% of the inhabitants are expatriates, whose rights are limited, despite the progress made with recent reforms. According to World Bank, unemployment is almost null, representing under 1% of the total labour force in 2021.

Main Indicators 201920202021 (e)2022 (e)2023 (e)
GDP (billions USD) 175.84e145.45e169.18180.88186.49
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 0.8e-3.6e1.94.02.6
GDP per Capita (USD) 62,817e54,185e61,79164,76865,467
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 62.372.1e59.053.146.7
Inflation Rate (%) -0.7-2.7e2.53.22.4
Current Account (billions USD) 4.23-3.48e13.8720.9013.58
Current Account (in % of GDP) 2.4-2.4e8.211.67.3

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database, 2016

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
Qatari Rial (QAR) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 GHS 0.910.840.790.690.65

Source: World Bank, 2015


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Latest Update: April 2022