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The Powerful GCC Country of Qatar continues to dominate the markets

Soft power and selective investments are positioning Qatar as one of the fastest growing economies

By Andrea ZanonPublished 11 months ago 4 min read

Slightly smaller than Connecticut, the Qatar peninsula is a member of the 6 countries Gulf Cooperation Council and is about 100 miles (160 km) from north to south, 50 miles (80 km) from east to west. It shares a border with Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It has a population of 2.8 million, 88% of which is foreign workers. Islam is the official religion, and Qataris are largely Sunni Muslims (Wahabi). Qataris are known for practicing a softer form of Wahhabism as compared to Saudi Arabia. Qatar controls 14 % of global gas reserves and its offshore North Field is one of the largest gas fields in the world. In 2021, Qatar was the third-largest natural gas exporter and the second-largest exporter of LNG in the world. Qatar is ruled by a hereditary Emir from the Al Thani Members of the ruling family who controls almost all the major ministerial posts, which are appointed by the emir. The main investment body is Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) which is a Sovereign Wealth Fund with $475 billion AUM. The 10th largest in the world.

Investment and Geopolitics: Unlike other GCC countries (which all follow Saudi Arabia foreign policy), Qatar has developed its independent foreign policy aligning its strategic interests with Western Europe and the United States. It has promoted its global ambitions as a moderate Muslim country, empowering women, and diversifying its economy investing in tech, sports, health, and real-estate across OECD countries. Most of its investments have been pursued via its Sovereign Wealth Fund, the Qatar Investment Authority. Additionally, the state owned enterprises such as Qatar Energy, and Qatar airline

Natural Gas and Economic Growth: As one of the largest gas producers in the world, Qatar has seen significant gains since the war broke out in Ukraine, as Qatar has become the trusted supplier of choice of Western Europe which used to receive 40% of its gas from Russia. In doing so it has helped increase EU energy security many-folds. Qatar’s GDP reached $216bn in 2022, its fastest growth in 7 years with one of the highest per capita GDP in the world amounting to $80,956. Elevated energy prices, increased LNG supply, reduced impact of the pandemic, improved relations with Arab neighbors (after restoring diplomatic relations with other GCC countries) and the FIFA World Cup in November-December were key drivers of Qatar’s GDP performance.

Soft Power: Over the last 20 years Qatar has invested aggressively on its brand and diplomacy to position the country as a trusted neutral Arab center of excellence. It has done so by creating a powerful media empire, Al-Jazeera, de facto an extension of the Qatar foreign ministry. It has also invested across education, the arts, and science via Qatar Foundation which has been led by the former First Lady, Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, which to date is one of the most powerful women in the Middle East. Qatar has also become a trusted partner of the West in the fight against extremism and terrorism and has often hosted the negotiations with the Taliban’s (who have official representation in Qatar), and Hamas, the Palestine nationalist, and Islamic Movement.

Football and Branding: Qatar is the first Arab country to have hosted the FIFA World CUP (2022). In spite of all the criticism, Qatar has delivered a well-organized event, which will serve as a long-term branding opportunity. Qatar has recognized long ago the need to secure its position on the global stage by courting the West and investing in sports, particularly soccer. Qatar has been investing in soccer for a long time, as this is part of its long brand equity and internationalization strategy. In 2010, Qatar's investment arm bought a controlling stake of 70% in Paris Saint Germain and has since turned it into one of the profitable team in the world. While the country invested $1.2 billion for the team, is has yet to win any international title. Furthermore, since 2017, government-owned entities, including Qatar Airways and Qatar Foundation, have sponsored Germany's Bayern Munich and Spain’s Barcelona respectively. More recently, Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani, the son of Qatar’s former prime minister, submitted his final bid to acquire Manchester United for close to $ 6 billion. This is the most successful soccer team in the world with almost 700 million fans globally.

Conclusion : As Qatar becomes an even more assertive Global Center of Power, it will continue to pursue investments and partnership that cements its trusted brand internationally promoting clean tech, education, and renewable energy. We should also expect Qatar to increase its role as an energy supplier, as it helps Europe transition out of its overdependence on Russian gas. On the sustainability and Climate fronts, as a signatory of the Paris 2016 climate accords, Qatar aims to reduce by 30% its carbon emission by 2030 bringing pragmatic solutions-oriented approach that delivers transformative progress for climate and for low-carbon economic growth.


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About the Creator

Andrea Zanon

Andrea Zanon is an international sustainable development and empowerment specialist who has dedicated his life to reducing poverty, promoting sustainability and empowering ambitious people

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  • Andrea Zanon (Author)11 months ago

    Post-pandemic, technology remains a vital strand in the emirate’s strategy for economic diversification: information and communications technology spending will reach an estimated US$9bn by 2024, at a compounded annual growth rate of 9.2 per cent, according to the data analytics company Global Data. This is alongside a $200bn government program to invest in technology, attract foreign investment and international talent.

  • As Qatar becomes an even more assertive Global Center of Power, it will continue to pursue investments and partnership that cements its trusted brand internationally promoting clean tech, education, and renewable energy.

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