Qatar has a fast-growing economy, a GDP of around US$9 billion and, like its neighbours, relies heavily on its hydrocarbon resources. The Qatar General Petroleum Corporation (QGPC) is responsible for oil production and exploration, and the Qatari government has full control of oil resources. The country also has the third-largest reserves of liquified gas (LNG) in the world, after the states of the former Soviet Union and Iran. The north gas field is thought to contain the largest individual concentration of natural gas on earth. Qatar has devoted a great deal of investment to these reserves and expects to earn a considerable revenue from them in the future.
In the field of industry and manufacturing, Qatar produces steel, iron, cement, petrochemicals and fertilisers. Unlike most of its neighbours, Qatar exports a major proportion of its steel production. The Qatar Industrial Manufacturing Company (QIMCO) encourages the support of small-to-medium-sized commercial activities in the country. Agriculture and fishing are tiny contributors to the economy and the country relies heavily on food imports.
The Central Bank of Qatar controls monetary policy and regulates the banking system. There are a number of commercial and retail banks doing business in Qatar, including local and foreign owned banks. The Qatar stock exchange is active and has recently been boosted by government privatisation schemes. Foreign companies and joint ventures are subject to variable levels of corporate tax, although those that are wholly foreign-owned are allowed corporate tax ‘holidays’, specifically designed to encourage such businesses. Minority foreign investment is allowed in specified key sectors such as steel and petrochemicals.
Qatar is still seen as a rather secluded country and little is known about it. Therefore, it isn’t widely regarded as a tourist destination. In fact, Qatar has much to offer those seeking rest and recreation, with fine beaches, great watersports facilities, a world-class golf course and many superb, modern hotels in the capital city of Doha. Having seen the success of other Gulf states in this regard, the Qatari government is now beginning to promote the country as a tourist destination. The state of Qatar is rather insular (although it shows support for the USA by allowing that country an airfield on its territory) and displays its individuality by not always toeing the line with the other GCC States. It’s a generally safe country and is quieter than Dubai and Bahrain
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