Economic and Political Overview

flag Qatar Qatar: Economic and Political Overview

In this page: Economic Indicators | Foreign Trade in Figures | Sources of General Economic Information | Political Outline | COVID-19 Country Response


Economic Indicators

The Emirate’s economy is heavily concentrated in the gas industry, which represents two-thirds of its GDP and almost 80% of export earnings. Qatar's decade-long endeavors to diversify the economy reached fruition with the successful hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Following robust growth in 2022 (4.9% of GDP) fueled by elevated natural gas prices and the aforementioned World Cup, the Qatari economy continued to expand in 2023, albeit at a slower rate (1.6% as per the IMF latest estimates). Near-term growth normalization is anticipated, with non-hydrocarbon sectors driven by public project investments, the North Field LNG expansion project, and subsequent benefits in logistics, manufacturing, and trade. Over the medium term, growth is projected to average around 5.5%, bolstered by substantial LNG production expansion and initial reform progress from the forthcoming Third National Development Strategy (NDS3).

The central government fiscal surplus increased to approximately 10% of GDP in 2022. Substantial fiscal surpluses persisted through the third quarter of 2023, supporting a projected surplus of 7.5% of GDP for the year. At the same time, non-hydrocarbon revenues increased due to higher corporate earnings, driven by the rise in tourist arrivals. The debt-to-GDP ratio decreased marginally in 2023 (to 41.4%, from 42.4% one year earlier), and is expected to follow a downward trend over the forecast horizon, reaching 46.3% by 2025 (IMF). With the decline in global commodity prices and the normalization of domestic demand, headline inflation eased to below 3% in 2023 and is expected to remain around 2% over the medium term. The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) holds total assets estimated to be around 200% of GDP. Its overseas investments encompass diverse sectors including sports, entertainment, media, ports, real estate, retail, and airports. This strategy enables the emirate to utilize its external surplus, enhance the country's prestige, and generate additional investment income. Banks exhibit strong capitalization, liquidity, and profitability, with a capital adequacy ratio of 19% and a return on equity of 14.6% as of Q2/2023.

Qatar is overall a politically stable, rich country (it had the fifth-highest income per capita in the world in 2022 according to the World Bank, PPP, at USD 114,648). 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 0.1% of the total labour force in 2022.

Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 236.26234.22244.69251.90269.00
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change)
GDP per Capita (USD) 80,57378,69681,40083,38288,598
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 42.539.437.336.135.0
Inflation Rate (%)
Current Account (billions USD) 63.1243.8738.0833.1630.98
Current Account (in % of GDP) 26.718.715.613.211.5

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

Qatar’s agricultural sector is almost non-existent due to the country’s climate and a lack of arable land. It is estimated to account for only 0.3% of GDP, employing 1% of the workforce (World Bank, latest data available). Although Qatar experiences a dry climate, it has embraced and implemented sustainable and intelligent technologies, such as automated irrigation systems, hydroponics, and aquaponics, to improve both the quality and quantity of fruits and vegetables. The country is self-sufficient in fresh poultry and dairy.

The economy of Qatar is based on the oil and natural gas sectors: proved natural gas reserves represent 11% of the world total and the third-largest in the world, while proved oil reserves exceed 25.2 billion barrels, which means the production could continue for over 50 years at current levels. Qatar's liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry has attracted tens of billions of dollars in foreign investment and made Qatar the world’s second-largest exporter of this commodity (after the U.S.). Being the country’s main economic engine and government revenue source, Qatar is highly dependent on the oil & gas sector, thus after the drop in commodity prices in recent years, it tried to diversify its economy, focusing mainly on manufacturing, construction, leading non-oil GDP to steadily rise to just over half the total. The construction sector in particular was booming due to the preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup of football. Overall, the industrial sector contributes 65.4% of GDP and 40% of employment, while manufacturing accounts for 9% of GDP (World Bank).

The services sector is based mainly on financial services and is estimated to account for 38.5% of GDP, giving employment to 59% of the active population (World Bank). According to official data, approximately 8% of the country's GDP in 2022 came from the financial sector (USD 19 billion). Tourism is also an important economic sector: the “Qatar Tourism Strategy 2030” set a target to attract over 6 million international visitors a year by 2030. The country saw a 5-year tourism high with 4 million visitors in 2023. The transportation and storage sector contribution to Qatar’s GDP as of 2022 stood at USD 9.9 billion.

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 1.2 54.0 44.8
Value Added (in % of GDP) 0.3 65.6 38.3
Value Added (Annual % Change) 7.7 2.5 6.8

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.


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

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.


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Indicator of Economic Freedom


The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

World Rank:
Regional Rank:

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation


Business environment ranking


The business rankings model measures the quality or attractiveness of the business environment in the 82 countries covered by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Country Forecast reports. It examines ten separate criteria or categories, covering the political environment, the macroeconomic environment, market opportunities, policy towards free enterprise and competition, policy towards foreign investment, foreign trade and exchange controls, taxes, financing, the labour market and infrastructure.

World Rank:

Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit - Business Environment Rankings 2020-2024


Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.


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Foreign Trade in Figures

Qatar's trade policy is essentially focused on creating a modern and liberal economy. This is reflected in its promotion of investment (both domestic and foreign), its trade diversification programs at the regional and international levels and membership in several organisations, such as the WTO. Trade represents 100% of the country's GDP (World Bank, latest data available). Mineral fuels, oils and distillation products represented over 87.2% of the country’s exports in 2022 (mainly natural gas, followed by crude and other oil products), while chemical products accounted for 6.1%. In terms of product category, machinery and transport equipment constituted the main import (35.2% of the total), ahead of miscellaneous manufactured articles (22%), manufactured goods (14%), and food and live animals (11.3% - data PSA).

In 2022, Asia emerged as the primary destination for Qatar's exports, constituting 66.2% of total exports, and the leading source of Qatar's imports, comprising 39.5% of total imports. Following Asia, the European Union accounted for 22.7% of exports and 27.1% of imports, while the GCC represented 6.8% of exports and 5.4% of imports (data PSA). On a country level, the main export partners were China (15.9%), India (11.6%), Japan (10.9%), and South Korea (9.6%). Qatar’s leading suppliers were China (16.2%), the United States (14.6%), India (6.2%) Italy (5.7%), and Germany (5%). Qatar has very few trade barriers and relatively low customs duties. It has signed a number of free trade agreements, both bilaterally and via the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Benefiting from strong oil and gas revenues, Qatar's merchandise trade balance is structurally positive. In 2022, the country’s exports increased by 50%, to reach USD 130.9 billion, on the back of high hydrocarbon prices. On the other hand, imports totalled USD 33.4 billion (+19.6%). As many countries in the region, Qatar remains a net importer of services: imports reached USD 41 billion in 2022, while exports amounted to USD 30.7 billion. The trade surplus was estimated at 36.9% of GDP by the World Bank (the third highest worldwide). According to data from the Qatar Planning and Statistics Authority, in the first three quarters of 2023, the country exported QAR 270.9 billion worth of goods against QAR 84 billion in imports.

Foreign Trade Indicators 20192020202120222023
Imports of Goods (million USD) 29,17825,83527,98533,47930,928
Exports of Goods (million USD) 72,93551,50487,203130,96497,365
Imports of Services (million USD) 35,41634,69834,34041,00041,199
Exports of Services (million USD) 19,11119,42918,34630,72830,173
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 1.9-8.9n/an/an/a
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -2.2-1.5n/an/an/a
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 37.940.934.1n/an/a
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)
Trade Balance (million USD) 41,58127,13760,33997,445n/a
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) 25,27611,86944,34587,173n/a
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP)

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank , Latest Available Data


Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
China 15.9%
India 11.6%
South Korea 10.9%
Japan 9.6%
United Kingdom 6.5%
See More Countries 45.5%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
China 16.2%
United States 14.6%
India 6.2%
Germany 5.0%
Türkiye 4.3%
See More Countries 53.6%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data


Main Products

131.0 bn USD of products exported in 2022
Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbonsPetroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons 65.2%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 14.3%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 7.8%
Mineral or chemical nitrogenous fertilisers (excl....Mineral or chemical nitrogenous fertilisers (excl. those in pellet or similar forms, or in packages with a gross weight of <= 10 kg) 2.7%
Polymers of ethylene, in primary formsPolymers of ethylene, in primary forms 2.2%
See More Products 7.8%
33.5 bn USD of products imported in 2022
Turbojets, turbopropellers and other gas turbinesTurbojets, turbopropellers and other gas turbines 5.9%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 4.0%
Telephone sets, incl. telephones for cellular...Telephone sets, incl. telephones for cellular networks or for other wireless networks; other apparatus for the transmission or reception of voice, images or other data, incl. apparatus for communication in a wired or wireless network [such as a local or wide area network]; parts thereof (excl. than transmission or reception apparatus of heading 8443, 8525, 8527 or 8528) 3.1%
Articles of jewellery and parts thereof, of...Articles of jewellery and parts thereof, of precious metal or of metal clad with precious metal (excl. articles > 100 years old) 2.2%
Automatic data-processing machines and units...Automatic data-processing machines and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers, machines for transcribing data onto data media in coded form and machines for processing such data, n.e.s. 1.9%
See More Products 82.9%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data


To go further, check out our service Import-Export Flows.


Main Services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

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Sources of General Economic Information

Ministry of Interior
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Finance
Ministry of Economy and Commerce
Ministry of Justice
Statistical Office
Qatar Planning and Statistics Authority
Central Bank
Qatar's Central Bank
Stock Exchange
Qatar Stock Exchange
Search Engines
Google Qatar
Economic Portals
Arabian Business
Arab Economic Portal

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Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
Emir of Qatar: Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani (since 25 June 2013)
Prime Minister: Muhammad bin Abd al-Rahman Al Thani (since 7 March 2023)
Next Election Dates
Works for holding the country's first legislative election were inaugurated in October 2019. General elections were held in Qatar for the first time on 2 October 2021, following an announcement by the Emir of Qatar on 22 August. A total of 284 candidates contested the 30 seats, with 29 women running. All candidates ran as independents.Voter turnout was 63.5%.
Next election: 2025
Main Political Parties
The Qatari citizens enjoy limited political rights, and the formation of political parties is prohibited in the country. The only elections are for an advisory municipal council, and all candidates for municipal elections run as independents. Legislative elections for the Advisory Council are yet to be held.
Type of State
Absolute monarchy
Executive Power
The chief of state is the Emir, a hereditary title. Though the country is formally a constitutional monarchy, the Emir exercises the executive power and has the mandate to approve or reject legislation after consultation with an Advisory Council.
The Emir also appoints the Prime Minister and approves the formation of the Council of Ministers upon recommendation of the Prime Minister.
Legislative Power
Qatar’s legal system is a mix of civil law and Islamic law (sharia). The Advisory Council (or Majlis al-Shura) can draft and approve laws, but the final say is in the hands of the Emir. The Council has 45 members, 30 of whom are elected by direct, general secret ballot, while 15 are appointed by the Emir. The Council of Ministers can also propose draft laws and decrees to the Advisory Council.
Sharia law is applied to laws related to family law, inheritance, and several criminal acts.

Indicator of Freedom of the Press


The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:

Indicator of Political Freedom


The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Not Free
Political Freedom:

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House


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COVID-19 Country Response

Travel restrictions
Regularly updated travel information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related entry regulations, flight bans, test and vaccines requirements is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
To find information about the current travel regulations, including health requirements, it is also advised to consult Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on a daily basis by IATA.
Import & export restrictions
A general overview of trade restrictions which were adopted by different countries during the COVID-19 pandemic is available on the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.
Economic recovery plan
For the general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) undertaken by the government of the Quatar, please consult the country's dedicated section in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.
Support plan for businesses
For an evaluation of impact of the Covid pandemic on SMEs and an inventory of country responses to foster SME resilience, refer to the OECD's SME Covid-19 Policy Responses document.
You can also consult the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.


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Latest Update: May 2024