The State of Qatar is known to be a very wealthy country.
However, the country is significantly smaller than many of the world’s other richest nations and has a relatively small population.
So, why is Qatar so rich?
The short answer is that Qatar is so rich due to oil and natural gas resources. These resources are highly sought-after around the world and considered necessary to modern everyday life, and Qatar’s large deposits of it have made its oil companies and government exceedingly wealthy.
That said, it is also the country’s handling of its resources that has helped its economy flourish.
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As of 2022 data, Qatar has a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita of $93,851.7 USD, making it one of the top three richest countries in the world.
GDP is a good assessor of wealth because it measures the monetary value of goods and services in a specific period of time.
The Qatari economy is considered to be one of the strongest in Western Asia as well as the world.
Qatar consistently ranks in the top 10 richest nations in the world. Its high quantities of oil deposits and a prime location for port exportation have allowed Qatar to swiftly transform its natural resources into extreme wealth within mere decades.
Qatar has not always been considered a wealthy nation.
Instead, it is known for having accumulated its wealth rather quickly compared to other rich countries, over a span of approximately 50 years.
Historically, Qatar was a nation with high poverty thanks to centuries of military and political conflict.
Until its oil reserves were discovered and tapped, the bulk of the Qatari economy revolved around the fishing industry.
Qatar’s oil was first discovered in 1939, but they were not utilized until the 1950s due to delays brought on by World War II.
Qatar’s official currency is the rial, also written in Latin script as “riyal” and abbreviated as QAR.
Foreign currencies are generally not accepted anywhere in Qatar outside of the international airport.
As of 2022, the exchange rate is 3.64 Qatari rial = 1 US dollar.
Qatar has a land area of 4,473 square miles (11,586 km), which makes it about half the size of the U.S. state of New Jersey.
Though far from the smallest nation (Vatican City at 0.73 square miles or 0.44 km), Qatar still ranks in the bottom 50 countries in the world by land size.
Qatar is a country in Western Asia and is considered part of the Middle East.
The nation encompasses the entire Qatar Peninsula, which extends from the much larger Arabian Peninsula.
Qatar borders the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Bahrain on either side, making it surrounded by water on three sides.
To the south, the country is entirely bordered by Saudi Arabia.
While it is impossible to measure exactly, Qatar’s oil reserves are estimated to amount to more than 25 billion barrels.
At the current drilling and output rates, these reserves are expected to last for around 50 more years.
All of the oil in Qatar is state-owned and exploited by Qatar Energy, formerly Qatar Petroleum (QP).
The organization is one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world and is run by Qatar’s Minister of State for Energy Affairs.
That said, there are various companies (both foreign and domestic) that have invested equity in Qatar’s oil business and/or are contracted to drill its resources.
Two examples include the privately owned Gulf Drilling and North Oil companies.
The State of Qatari has amassed a sovereign wealth fund of $170 billion from oil and gas profits.
Since these natural resources are anticipated to run out within the next several decades, this fund has been invested in a similar manner to a hedge fund in order to accumulate even more wealth.
As of 2022 data, there are over 3 million people living in Qatar. The population is expected to grow by about 26,000 yearly over the next decade.
Qatar’s wealth has had a significant influence on population growth, which has played a role in ongoing urban development.
The country’s population has swelled from 19.3 per square mile in 1980 to over 250 per square mile in the 2020s.
The median salary in Qatar is 15,700 QAR (4,295.42 USD) per month. On an individual level, salaries in Qatar vary widely and typically depend on the industry a person is in.
Salary averages range from a low of 3,970 QAR (1,083.81 USD) per month to 70,000 QAR (19,110 USD) per month.
It’s worth noting that women in Qatar make up about half of the workforce, a direct contrast to most other Middle Eastern countries where women make up less than 25 percent of workers.
However, average yearly salaries are generally lower for women, at 200,985 QAR (54,868.91 USD) a year compared to men’s 290,190 QAR (79,221.87 USD) a year.
The cost of living in Qatar varies greatly depending on a person’s family size, location, and type of residence.
For example, a new luxury apartment in Doha can cost three times as much (or more) than a small house in a smaller city.
The average individual will need around 15,000 QAR ($4,095 USD) a month, while a family of four may need at least 35,000 QAR ($9,555 USD).
Doha’s high price tag is considered comparable to large cities in other wealthy countries.
Qatar is considered to be more expensive to live in than 80% of countries around the world.
Nevertheless, education is free for all citizens in Qatar, and the country has one of the highest university enrollment rates in the world.
Though there are many wealthy Qataris that are worth hundreds of thousands of US dollars, the nation is home to numerous millionaires and some billionaires (primarily among royalty).
As of 2022 data, some of the richest Qatari citizens include the following:
- Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohamed bin Saud Al Thani, with a net worth of $2.5 billion USD
- Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, with a net worth of $3 billion USD
- Saad Sherida Al Kaabi, with a net worth of $1.25 billion USD
- Sheikh Faisal Qassim Faisal Al Thani, with a net worth of $1.77 billion USD
- Akbar Al Baker, with a net worth of $1.35 billion USD
- Khalid bin Hamad bin Abdullah Al Thani, with a net worth of $800 million USD
- Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, with a net worth of $270 million USD
Qatar’s richest city is Doha, which is also the nation’s capital city as well as its largest metropolis.
Doha is frequently referred to as the richest city on Earth and annually contributes between 60 and 70% of Qatar’s overall GDP.
Roughly 80 percent of the Qatari population lives in the Doha metropolitan area. As a fast-growing city with well-formed connections to other big cities across the Middle East and Asia, Doha is classified as a beta-level global city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network.
While the oil and gas industries account for the bulk of Qatar’s wealth, the limited quantities of natural resources have prompted the nation to begin shifting its focus to other industries.
As of 2022 data, other large (and significantly growing) industries in the Qatari economy include:
- Banking and finance
- Commercial ship repair
- Hospitality and tourism
In the 2010s, several other Middle Eastern nations, including Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have placed strict sanctions on Qatar and either cut or limited diplomatic relationships.
Part of these sanctions included blocking trade routes.
Nevertheless, Qatar’s economy proved to be structurally sound and only experienced a slight slowdown.
The nation’s wealth has continued to hold strong, and trade continues with other economic powers of the world.