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Qatar, officially the State of Qatar, is a sovereign country located in Southwest Asia, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its territory surrounded by the Persian Gulf. A strait in the Persian Gulf separates Qatar from the nearby island of Bahrain, as well as sharing sea borders with the United Arab Emirates and Iran. Following Ottoman rule, Qatar became a British protectorate in the early 20th century until gaining independence in 1971. The House of Thani has ruled Qatar since the early 19th century. Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani was the founder of the State of Qatar. Qatar is a hereditary constitutional monarchy and its head of state is Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. The constitution was overwhelmingly approved in a constitutional referendum, with almost 98% in favor. In 2013, Qatar's total population was 1.8 million: 278,000 Qatari citizens and 1.5 million expatriates. After Saudi Arabia and Oman, Qatar is the most conservative society in the Gulf Cooperation Council. Qatar is a high-income economy and is a developed country, backed by the world's third-largest natural gas reserves and oil reserves. The country has the highest per capita income in the world. Qatar is classified by the UN as a country of very high human development and is the most advanced Arab state for human development. Qatar is a significant power in the Arab world, supporting several rebel groups during the Arab Spring both financially and through its globally expanding media group, Al Jazeera Media Network.
The Qatari banking sector managed to escape the direct impact of the global subprime fallout, but was not altogether unscathed by its aftershocks. Overall, it was the best performing of the Gulf Cooperation Council markets in the last quarter of 2008 and most banks posted substantial profits for 2008. But the sector is also facing issues of liquidity, declining customer confidence and a forced reluctance to lend. In a bid to strengthen the banks’ positions, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) announced in early 2009 that it was willing to take a 10-20% stake in any interested local listed banks by way of a capital injection, although this was later reduced to 5% stakes and an additional 5% at the end of 2009. The Qatari government also announced in March 2009 that it was planning to buy the investment portfolio of the banks in the hope this would encourage them to continue lending. Cautious sector sentiment has also been compounded by the Qatar Central Bank’s (QCB’s) lending restrictions, which demand a loan-to-deposit ratio of 90%. Given the high level of integration between Qatar’s economy and the Persian Gulf region, as well as the wider world, a slowdown in business and banking activity seemed inevitable. Nevertheless, Qatar’s banking sector has been faring relatively well, considering the strife experienced in other countries, and insiders are confident that activity will return to its previous brisk pace in the second half of 2009 as confidence slowly rebuilds around the globe. The proposal to create a single unified regulator as early as 2010 to oversee all banking and financial services is viewed as another promising development that will dramatically transform the financial sector for the better. Underlining these developments is strong optimism that the solid base of Qatar’s economy, which has maintained a favorable outlook, will be enough to buoy capital markets and lure shaken-up investors back to the trading floor.
|Agriculture||Fruits, vegetables, poultry & dairy products.|
|Manufacture||Crude Oil Production and Refining, Ammonia, Fertilizers, Petrochemicals, Steel Reinforcing Bars, Cement & Commercial Ship Repair.|
|Services (Including financial)||27.7% (2013 estimate)|
|Qatar National Bank||Finance|
|Ezdan Real Estate||Property|
|Masraf Al Rayan||Finance|
|Qatar Islamic Bank||Finance|
|Qatar Electricity and Water Company||Industry|
|Commercial Bank of Qatar||Finance|
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The Qatar stock exchange was established in 1995, the Doha Securities Market (DSM) officially started operations in 1997. Since then the exchange has grown to become one of the leading stock markets in the GCC region. In June 2009, Qatar Holding, the strategic and direct investment arm of Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), and NYSE Euronext, the world’s leading exchange group, signed an agreement to form a major strategic partnership to establish the Exchange as a world-class market. The DSM was renamed the Qatar Stock Exchange on the conclusion of the deal. The primary aim of the Qatar Stock Exchange is to support Qatar’s economy by providing a venue for capital raising for Qatari companies as part of their corporate strategy and giving investors a platform through which they can trade a variety of products in a transparent and efficient manner. The Qatar Stock Exchange also provides the public with access to market information and ensures correct disclosure of information. The agreement with NYSE Euronext marks the beginning of a new era for the Qatar Stock Exchange. The partnership will help establish the Qatar Stock Exchange as a world-class international market and reinforce the country’s position as a regional financial Centre with the introduction to Doha of new trading products, technology and international investors and issuers. The Qatar Stock Exchange will be an important national and regional capital marketplace for issuers to raise capital and for investors to trade securities and derivatives products.
Hitting several pockets of turbulence, oil prices have crashed by over 60% from $115 in June 2014 to $46 per barrel in the last week of January 2015 – and are likely to plummet further to $40 in the not too distance future. Saudi Arabia, one of the biggest oil exporters, has made it very clear that it was ready to face the consequences even if the price fell to $20 per barrel in the coming weeks. It is reported that the Kingdom will end up losing QR465.92 billion ($128 billion) revenues if the oil prices are pegged at $50 per barrel for one year. Several reports have been doing the rounds, after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) met in November 2014 and refused to cut production. One theory has been that the decision was taken, at the behest of the US and its allies, to “hurt” the oil-centric state economies such as Russia and Iran. But the catch is that these declining prices will affect Saudi more than anyone else, since their economy is so intrinsically dependent on oil. Despite numerous initiatives and billions of dollars spent on efforts to diversify the Saudi economy, oil proceeds continue to account for 90% of export earnings, approximately 80% percent of government revenues and about 40% of GDP.
Russia, which has already been hard-hit due to Western sanctions, has been struggling to insulate its economy from further collapses but the declining oil prices have reduced the value of its exports, putting downward pressure on its currency. Pegging the oil price at $100 per barrel, the Russian Parliament has recently approved a three-year budget (2015-1017) but Moscow may experience deep recession and default on its debts if the oil prices fail to rise in the coming months. The development also hit Iran’s economy, which was limping back to near normalcy. Sanctions over the years have brought down Iran’s oil exports considerably and its leaders are blaming fellow OPEC producers of colluding with the West to keep oil prices low. While Europe is cut up with Russia for its support to Syria and also for precipitating the crisis in Ukraine, the US foreign policy is aimed at exerting pressure on Iran (which is also supporting the Syrian regime led by Bashar Al Assad), to limit its ambitions during the nuclear talks with the West. Iran needs the oil price to be around $140 per barrel to balance its books and another OPEC member, Venezuela, needs $117 per barrel to avoid the ignominy of defaulting on its debts and also to meet its fiscal commitments.
Besides Iran and Russia, the two GCC countries – Saudi Arabia and Kuwait – are also likely to bear the brunt as oil sales accounted for 90% and 92%, respectively, in the overall budget income for these two countries in 2013. On the other hand, Iraq too has warned that it has lost 50% of its oil revenues due to the price slump and had no money even to buy weapons to fight the Islamic State. In other words, Iraq has accused the GCC-based OPEC members of aggravating the crisis in the violence-hit Middle East. The other version is that non-OPEC countries like the US and Canada have stepped up crude oil production to challenge the hegemony of OPEC, and the latter hit back by refusing to cut back oil production. Whatever the case is, the intentions of the four GCC countries – Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE – are the same and they do not want to surrender their market share in the global oil market for years to come.
For its size, Qatar wields disproportionate influence in the world, and has been identified as a middle power. Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, becoming the first Arab country to do so. On 3 September 1971, Qatar officially gained its independence from the United Kingdom and became an independent sovereign state. The government then decided to turn for their supply of arms to the French; this linkage would be reinforced over time and the French would become their largest supplier well into the new millennium. In 1972, Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani seized power in a palace coup during a time of discord in the ruling family. In 1974, the Qatar General Petroleum Corporation took control of all oil operations in the country, and Qatar rapidly grew in wealth. The North Field natural gas deposit, then the largest in the world, was discovered in about 1976, and the Qataris were first to have built LNG vessels.
Abdullah bin Khalifa Al Thani
(Former prime minister)
Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani F
(ormer prime minister)
Talai Mansour Al-Rahim
The riyal (QAR) is the currency of the State of Qatar. It is divided into 100 dirhams and is abbreviated as QR. Until 1966, Qatar used the Indian rupee as currency, in the form of Gulf rupees. When India devalued the rupee in 1966, Qatar, along with the other states using the Gulf rupee, chose to introduce its own currency. Before doing so, Qatar briefly adopted the Saudi riyal, then introduced the Qatar and Dubai riyal which was the result of signing the Qatar-Dubai Currency Agreement on 21 March 1966. The Saudi riyal was worth 1.065 rupees, whilst the Qatar and Dubai riyal was equal to the rupee prior to its devaluation. Following Dubai's entrance into the United Arab Emirates, Qatar began issuing the Qatari riyal separate from Dubai on 19 May 1973. The old notes continued to circulate in parallel for 90 days, at which time they were withdrawn.  For a wider history surrounding currency in the region, see the history of British currency in the Middle East. In 1966, coins were introduced in the name of Qatar and Dubai for 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 dirham. In 1973, a new series of coins was introduced in the same sizes and compositions as the earlier pieces but in the name of Qatar only.
On September 18, 1966, the Qatar & Dubai Currency Board introduced notes for 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 riyals. These were replaced on 19 May 1973 by notes of the Qatar Monetary Agency in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 100, and 500 riyals; a 50-riyal note was issued in 1976.
The Qatar Central Bank was established by decree 15 on 5 August 1973. All coins and notes issued by the Qatar Monetary Agency became the property of the bank but continued to circulate for several years. The Qatari riyal is pegged to the US dollar at a fixed exchange rate of USD 1 = QAR 3.64. Royal Decree No.34 of 2001, signed by Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, on 9 July 2001, enshrined this rate into Qatari law. Qatari riyal exchange rate shall be pegged against the US dollar at 3.64, and sets upper and lower limits of QAR 3.6415 and QAR 3.6385 for the Qatar Central Bank's purchase and sale of dollars with banks operating in Qatar. Article (2) provides the Qatar Central Bank with the authority to determine the volume and the time of sale of US dollars and the associated conditions of such sales and payments. Article (3) cancels the earlier Royal Decree No.60 of 1975, by which the riyal was officially pegged to the IMF's special drawing rights (SDRs).
|National Song||"As Salam al Amiri"|
|Currency||Qatari riyal (QAR)|
|GDP||329.161 Billion USD|
|GDP Growth Rate||3.3 Percent|
|GDP Per Capita||$127659.6 (PPP)|
UTC+03:00 (Arabia Standard Time)
< 1.0% Jews
< 1.0% Other Religions
Emir – Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani
Prime Minister – Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani
|Website||Go to the web|
|Public Debt||47.598 Percent|
|Unemployment Rate||0.227 Percent|
|Labor Force (Occupation)||-|