Qatar

Last updated: July 2nd, 2021

The State of Qatar lies on a peninsula in the Arabian Gulf and has a land border only with Saudi Arabia. The capital Doha is located in the east of the country directly by the sea. The country has about 2.8 million inhabitants – almost 90 percent of whom are not natives – and is slightly smaller than Schleswig-Holstein.
HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani has led the country as head of state and head of government since 2013, when his father abdicated in his favour. HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa had initiated the economic and political opening of the country. In 1999, Qatar was the first country in the Gulf region with active and passive women’s suffrage on the municipal level. Since 2003, Qatar has had a new constitution that provides for a consultative assembly.
From a country whose economy was dominated by fishing and pearl diving, Qatar has rapidly transformed into an industrial location since independence in 1971. The industrial sector contributed around 50.3 percent of GDP in 2017, mainly due to revenues from the petroleum industry. Between 1994 and 2017, Qatar’s share of oil production within the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) tripled to around five per cent. Nevertheless, Qatar withdrew from OPEC at the end of 2018. This happened in the context of tensions between Qatar and some neighbouring Gulf countries, but the situation has eased considerably since the beginning of 2021.
Qatar is already focusing more on the gas market, as it has the third-largest natural gas reserves in the world and has been the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in recent years. In addition, it has a flourishing fertiliser production and aluminium industry.
Qatar’s leadership is now increasingly focusing on diversifying the economy. Against the backdrop of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the infrastructure programme Vision Qatar 2030 was implemented. It represents the transition to a knowledge-based society. Particular importance is attached to the financial services sector. In addition, the sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) – one of the largest in the world – invests heavily in global stocks such as Barclays Bank, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Hapag Lloyd, London Heathrow Airport, and Volkswagen. According to the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, Qatar ranks second in the world for taxation and tax climate. Environmental protection is also enjoying increasing political weight in Qatar with the creation of a Ministry of Environment and a National Environmental Plan.
The need to involve local majority partners for business start-ups has been weakened in recent years. In the areas of education, health, industry, agriculture and tourism, as well as for projects related to mineral resources and energy, such a partner is no longer mandatory. In other areas such as consultancy services, IT, sports and tourism, one hundred percent foreign ownership is permissible. Direct investment is also to be facilitated by the fact that the corporate tax rate for foreign companies is consistently ten percent. Due to the government’s stimulus packages and successful vaccination campaign, Qatar’s economy is recovering quickly from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic with growth expected at 2.4 percent in 2021.