With an estimated population of 2.2 million in 2015, up from 590,000 thousand in 2000, Qatar’s population, of which 99% is urban, witnessed high levels of growth reaching 17% in 2007, then slowed down to 2.6% in 2015.[1] Nationals make up around 12% of the total population.[2] Due to a massive inflow of male workers, women accounted to 24% of the total population, and the population between 15 and 64 years made up 85% of the total population in 2015.[11]

Qatar has witnessed important progress in its already high adult literacy rate, increasing from 89% in 2004 to 97.8% in 2015.[3] In the same context, primary enrollment rates increased from 93.1% in 2000 to 102.1% in 2014 and the Gender Parity was maintained at the primary level.[5] Whereas, at the tertiary level, gross enrollment rates declined to 15.8% in 2014, down from 19.2% in 2001. Remarkably, the Gender Parity Index (GPI) at the tertiary level scored 6.3 in 2014, the highest score among the Arab countries.[5]

In 2015, Qatar’s GDP (Purchasing Power Parity, constant 2011 prices) reached Int$ 302.5 billion,[5] and the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita (Purchasing Power Parity) recorded Int$ 140,720,[5] the highest among the Arab countries. Despite the drop in oil prices, the Qatari economy has maintained a growth momentum. GDP growth rate (constant 2005 prices) remained at stable levels of 4.2% over the last four years.[6] Qatar, a high-income country,[7] heavily relies on mining and quarrying activities which constituted 50.7% of its GDP in 2014.[8] Compared to other GCC countries, the drop in oil and gas prices had a relatively more contained impact on Government’s revenues that constituted around 48.7% of total Government revenues in 2015, down from 63% in 2013.[9] With continuous diversification efforts , the finance, insurance, real estate, and business services contributed to 13.1% of GDP in 2014.[8] Furthermore, inflation averaged at 3% in 2014[4] and is expected to drop to 1.7% in 2015.[6]

The growth outlook in the short-term is positive, but a further decrease in oil prices is expected to cause a deterioration in fiscal balances.[10] The cash balance recorded a surplus of 16% of GDP in 2015, up from 14.2% of GDP in 2014, coupled with a slight decrease in Government revenues by 1.8% between 2014 and 2015, and a drop in expenditures by 10.3% over the same period.[9] Notably, investment revenues, as a percentage of total revenues, increased to 33.2% in 2015, up from 11.6% in 2001;[9] and public debt dropped to 29.9% of GDP in 2015, down from 38.4% of GDP in 2010.[6] 

The economy of Qatar heavily relies on hydrocarbon products, which accounted for 90% of total exports in 2014,[11] increasing the country’s vulnerability to external shocks. Export volumes have maintained a rising trend since 2004 going up from 48 billion Qatari Riyal in 2003 to more than 462.1 billion Qatari Riyal in 2014, which has resulted in trade and current account surpluses.[11] In 2014, international trade-to-GDP ratio scored nearly 100 %.[5]

Qatar’s main imports consist of machinery and transport equipment, which accounted for 47% of total imports in 2014.[11] Most of Qatar’s trade with the Arab countries is centered with GCC countries, where 91% of Qatar’s exports to Arab countries go to GCC countries and 88.6% of Qatari imports come from other GCC countries in 2014.[5] 

Qatar is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) and the Greater Arab Free Trade Agreement (GAFTA). In 2008, the GCC has signed with Singapore a Free-Trade Agreement (FTA) that entered into force in 2013. Besides, a Free Trade Agreement signed in 2009 between the GCC and the EFTA states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) entered into force in 2014.[12]

Being home to a large emigrant community, the foreign residents made up to 99% of all employed population in Qatar in 2015. The majority of expatriates workers are men, where 1.6 million non-Qatari men are employed, compared to 0.23 million non-Qatari women.[11] 

The unemployment rate in Qatar is the lowest in the Arab world where it stood at 0.2% in 2015, 0.1% for men and 1.1% for women.[16] Moreover, youth unemployment rate witnessed some fluctuations over the past years. In 2000, youth unemployment rate registered 4.2%, declined to 3% in 2002, then increased to 6.1% in 2004, before decreasing to 0.8% in 2015.[16]

Like other GCC countries, Qatar's economy mainly depends on its oil and natural gas resources. It is one of the largest dry natural gas producers. Natural gas production has increased over the years from 1,028 billion cubic feet in 2000 to 5,597 billion cubic feet in 2013.[14] The country is also the largest exporter of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in the world and one of the major exporters of natural gas, where net natural gas exports registered 4,432 billion cubic feet in 2013.[15] Moreover, natural gas consumption has grown more rapidly over the past several years, it almost tripled between 2001 and 2013, increasing from 387 to 1163 billion cubic feet respectively.[14] 

Although Qatar is a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the country is one of the smallest crude oil producers among the members of OPEC. It produced 562 million barrels in 2014.[14] Its oil production barely meets domestic demand, and the country doesn’t import any crude oil and only occasionally imports petroleum products. Its net oil exports leveled at 450 million barrels in 2012.[15]


This overview has been drafted by the ADP team based on most available data as of 30 September 2016. 


  1. World Population Prospects, Population Division, United Nations
  2. Business in Qatar and Beyond Magazine
  3. UNESCO Institute for Statistics
  4. Qatar Information Exchange (QIX)
  5. World Development Indicators, The World Bank
  6. International Monetary Fund (IMF)
  7. The World Bank
  8. ADP team computations based on figures extracted from Qatar Information Exchange (QIX)
  9. ADP team computations based on figures extracted from Central Bank of Qatar (QCB)
  10. IMF, November 2015
  11. Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics, Statistics Sector, Qatar
  12. World Trade Organization, Trade Policy Review 2014, Qatar
  13. ILOSTAT – International Labour Organization (ILO)
  14. International Energy Statistics, U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)
  15. ADP calculations based on data extracted from the International Energy Statistics, U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)
  16. KILM – International Labour Organization (ILO)

Qatar Statistical Snapshot 2016
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Data Highlighted

  • The cash balance recorded a surplus of 16% of GDP in 2015, up from 14.2% of GDP in 2014, coupled with a slight decrease in Government revenues by 1.8% between 2014 and 2015, and a drop in expenditures by 10.3% over the same period.

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