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Qatar

Basic Information

Area: 11,437 km²

Calling code: +974

Population: 1,450,000

Official Language: Arabic

Time zone: AST (UTC+3), Local time: 21:49

Overview

Qatar is one of the three independent Arab emirates, located on the north-east coast of the Arab Peninsula. The other two are Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. The country has a unique location, almost completely surrounded by the Persian gulf with 563km of coastline. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia and has a total area of 11,586 square km. The population was reported to be over 1.5 million in 2009, and continues to grow steadily. The majority of the Qatari population resides in the city of Doha and its adjacent suburbs. Reports estimate this number to be about 85%. Since the early 1800's Qatar has been ruled by the al-Thani family. In 1971 Qatar broke from its relationship with the British treaty and declared its state independence, however the al-Thani family continued to maintain its power. Today, Qatar is governed by a constitutional monarchy based upon civil law and Islamic codes that are set by the Amir. Qatar's currency is known as Qatari Real, or QAR. It is a very stable country, with rich cultural history and diverse topography of flat, rocky surfaces, hills, and sand dunes.

Economy

Due to the large rise in oil prices and the lowering of taxes, Qatar is having a great economic boom today. The country has enormous reserves of natural resources at their disposal, including the most important of them all: oil. Researchers estimate that the oil reserves in Qatar will last for more than 3 decades. In fact, Qatar's supply of natural gas is just about 14% of the total reserves available in the world. Over half of Qatar's GDP comes from these reserves of oil and gas. The total GDP figure for Qatar is very high, and continues to grow rapidly each year. Researchers estimate that the phenomenal grown rate of Qatar makes it the 3rd largest in the world today. This is prone to fluctuation, but the numbers are very good. It has also recently been noted that the country boasts of the second highest GDP per capita in the world. The country that currently has the highest rate is Liechtenstein in Europe. Overall, the economy in Qatar is incredibly strong, and the outlook is good. Due to the plentiful serves of oil and natural gas, Qatar should continue to grow in the coming decades.

Infrastructure

Qatar has a strong infrastructure, with 5 public airports such as Doha International airport (DOH) which can handle as many as 12 million passengers a year. DOH has very frequent flights to a number of major cities in the Middle-East, Asia, Europe, and America. The numerous freight airlines that come into Doha International are said to carry over 350,000 tons of cargo each year. Recently, another airport has opened in Doha to meet the increasing demands for passenger travel.

Thanks to much government spending to improve the country's transportation infrastructure, Qatar has a very efficient road system that is well maintained and highly developed. The main roads are designed to link Doha to all the major oil producing areas in the country. Qatar has also signed a contract with German rail operator Deutsche Bahn to add an efficient railway network in the country. The plan is for an underground metro in Doha that can transport passengers to nearly 100 different stations. There will also be an underground train that links Doha with Bahrain.

Another very strong point of infrastructure in Qatar is energy production. There are two very efficient power stations that serve the country located in the states of Ras Aby Aboud and Ras Abu Fontas. In 2010 Shell opened a natural gas power plant called The Pearl, which provides fuel for automobiles and aircrafts at significantly lower rates than crude oil. Shell and Qatar are estimated to see billions in profit each year from this venture. Recently Qatar has invested a large sum on money into environmentally-conscious fuel options, and is taking strides to cut carbon emissions in the country.

The infrastructure of Qatar continues to rapidly grow, and new projects are consistently being reported. The speed of growth is comparable to that of Qatar's GDP.

Workforce

After gaining independence, Qatar has put a great deal of focus on improving its educational system. Today there are a number of higher educational facilities of exceptional quality, mostly around the city of Doha. It is estimated that between 3% to 4% of the nation's GDP is spent on education. The majority of children aged 6-16 attend school, and education is free of charge for children of Qatari government employees. Multiple universities are located right within the city of Doha, including Cornell University, and other highly accredited American Institutes. Reports say that approximately 90% of the Qatari workforce has a foreign passport, and most of these workers come from Iran, Lebanon, Palestine, South-East Asia, and Egypt. The official language of Qatar is Arabic, but English is also commonly used due to the high number of foreign immigrants needing a common language. Many other Asian dialects can also be heard in the country. Research shows that Qatar has one of the very lowest unemployment rates in the world.

Business Costs

Taking the step to attract foreign investors during the economic downfall, Qatar adjusted its tax rate to a standard fixed rate of 10%. The country has strict laws regarding importation of goods, and there are many commodities which are subject to custom tarrifs. General goods coming into the country have a fixed rate of about 4%, but products like cigarettes and tobacco will be subject to a 50% custom charge. Items that never require custom tariffs include machinery, foodstuffs, and raw materials. So far, there are absolutely no export charges for any goods that leave Qatar.

The rental market in the country is incredibly stable, and even considered to be the most so in the Middle-East. There has also been a major housing boom in the country, perhaps due to the fact that no minimum wage rate has been set in Qatar, making inexpensive labour readily available. Although wages for workers are quite low, the opposite is true for those who hold professional positions. In fact, these workers are reported to earn wages higher than those found in western countries, and boast of a very high standard of living.

On the whole, Qatar is becoming a very popular choice to conduct international business, and there are a number of factors that make this the case. The country has very favourable set tax rates, and tremendous connections to Europe and Asia. The wealth of natural resources, strong economy, and stable government make Qatar very appealing to expanding businesses around the world.
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