With an estimated population of 2.6 million in 2018, up from 592,000 thousand in 2000[1], Qatar’s population, of which 99% is urban, witnessed high levels of growth reaching 17% in 2007, then slowed down to 2.1% in 2018.[1] Nationals make up around 12% of the total population.[2] Due to a massive inflow of male workers, women accounted for 25% of the total population, and the population between 15 and 64 years made up 85% of the total population in 2015.[1]

In 2017, Qatar’s GDP (Purchasing Power Parity, constant 2011 prices) reached Int$ 308.6 billion, and the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita (Purchasing Power Parity) recorded Int$ 128,060,[4] the highest among the Arab countries. Despite the drop in oil prices, the Qatari economy has maintained a growth momentum. Real GDP growth rate remained at stable levels of 2.6% over the last few years.[5] Qatar, a high-income country,[6] heavily relies on mining and quarrying activities which constituted 50.7% of its GDP in 2014.[7] 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.[8] With continuous diversification efforts, the finance, insurance, real estate, and business services contributed to 13.1% of GDP in 2014.[7] Furthermore, inflation averaged 1.8% in 2015 but increased to 3.9% in 2018.[5]

Due to lower hydrocarbon prices, the overall fiscal balance has been fluctuating across the years, from a surplus of 1.3% of GPD during 2015 to a deficit of 9.3% of GDP during 2016. However, the deficit has narrowed to 6% in 2017. In addition, the public debt increased from 34.9% of GDP in 2015 to 55.4% of GDP in 2018.[5] 

The economy of Qatar heavily relies on hydrocarbon products, which accounted for 90% of total exports in 2014,[1] 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.[1] In 2016, the international trade-to-GDP ratio scored nearly 90%.[4]

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 21 million ton oil equivalent in 2000 to 150.3 million ton oil equivalent in 2016.[9] Moreover, natural gas consumption has grown more rapidly over the past several years, reaching a record of  3,768 Billion cubic meters in 2017.[9] 


The unemployment rate in Qatar is the lowest in the Arab world where it stood at 0.4% in 2018, 0.2% for men and 1.7% for women.[10] 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 1.4% in 2018.[10]


This overview has been drafted by the ADP team based on most available data as of 7 January 2018. 




[1] Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics, Statistics Sector, Qatar

[2] World Population Prospects, Population Division, United Nations

[3] Business in Qatar and Beyond Magazine

[4] World Development Indicators, The World Bank

[5] International Monetary Fund (IMF)

[6] The World Bank

[7] ADP team computations based on figures extracted from Qatar Information Exchange (QIX)

[8] ADP team computations based on figures extracted from Central Bank of Qatar (QCB)

[9] International Energy Statistics, U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)

[10] KILM – International Labour Organization (ILO)


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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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