How did Qatar become a rich country?

In just a few decades, Qatar has established itself as one of the richest countries in the world.

In half a century, Qatar has gone from being a poor country to one with one of the highest GDP per capita in the world. How can this be explained?

Qatar, which was hardly the center of attention a few decades ago, has now changed its status. In fact, 20 years ago it seemed impossible to see this country starting from a very low base organizing the 2022 World Cup. At the beginning of the 20th century, the country was under British rule and could not establish relations with any foreign government without British consent. In return, the land, devoid of resources and radiation, will be protected from any attack from the sea by the British, who also promise to lend a hand in the event of a land attack.

From the pearl industry to oil revenues

At that time the country lived off the pearl and fish industry and the population suffered from malnutrition. It was only in 1939 that Qatar discovered oil in the west of the country, in Dukhan, which remains Qatar’s most important oil field to this day, but exploitation only started 10 years later due to World War II. A discovery that allows the country to gradually achieve many economic, social and political changes.

In the 1950s, Qatar increased its income thanks to oil and began to modernize with the construction of the first hospital or school, and its income continued to grow in the 1960s, until its independence in 1971, when Britain decided to withdraw troops, signaling the end of his military and political presence.

At that time, Europe was beginning to realize its dependence on oil-producing states, while the Persian Gulf states held 62% of the world’s proven reserves and were increasingly emerging as a source of energy.

The discovery of gas

In 1971 Shell discovered the North Dome natural gas field on the coast of Qatar, the largest natural gas field in the world. It was not until 1996, after the 1980s oil counter-shock that plunged Qatar’s economy, that the new Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani accelerated the development of the North Dome field and delivered the first shipment of liquefied natural gas.

Over the next 15 years, 14 LNG plants were built in partnership with western oil companies, allowing Qatar to increase its GDP through its oil and natural gas production. Therefore, thanks to the exploitation of its hydrocarbon resources, Qatar has become one of the richest countries in the world. Qatar has the third largest gas reserves in the world after Russia and Iran and is the second largest exporter of natural gas.

Lots of massive investments

With a GDP per capita of $105,000 in 2013, Qatar rose to first place in the world thanks to its hydrocarbon revenues and the transformation of its economy. If oil and natural gas are the cornerstones of its economy, Qatar has adopted a diversified economic policy to no longer depend on hydrocarbon revenues.

Since the 1990s, Qatar has pursued a policy of massive investment in the sports community, both nationally and internationally. The country has organized famous events such as the Qatar Cycling Tour, the Doha Tennis Open, the Motorcycle Grand Prix, the 2015 World Handball Championship, the 2019 World Athletics Championship and hence the 2022 World Cup Championship. The country also owns Paris Saint-Germain, who has been very active in the transfer market since 2012.

The country not only invests in sport, because the investment fund QIA (Qatar Investment Authority) holds shares in several large European groups such as Lagardère, Vinci, Veolia, Suez, Volkswagen, LVMH and the British department store Harrods. QIA is also active in major institutions such as Barclays, Credit Suisse and other Chinese banks.

In summary, the discovery and exploitation of hydrocarbons has allowed Qatar to enrich, develop and invest heavily to diversify its economy, compete on the international stage and become one of the richest countries on earth .

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