Back

Country Reports

Qatar Country Report

Content provided by
IHS Markit Logo

Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

The economic and diplomatic boycott of Qatar by Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt (GC3+1) will almost certainly continue into 2020, but there are indicators that the Saudi position is softening. Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani is unlikely to concede to the key GC3+1 demands that Qatar renounce support for Islamist dissidents and distance itself from the Iranian government. Although Qatar spent about USD40 billion to support its economy in the two months immediately following the boycott, foreign-currency reserves have since recovered to pre-2017 levels. IHS Markit expects GDP growth to contract by 0.7% for 2019, mainly due to a moderate contraction in the hydrocarbon sector, but improving to 2.1% growth in 2020.Constructionis expected to remain a major driver of the economy through 2021 as the government delivers the mega-projects necessary to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022. The land border with Saudi Arabia is likely to remain closed, and Qatar is prohibited from entering GC3+1 airspace and maritime ports, increasing transport costs and risk of cargo delay.Qatar is likely to continue to improve the operating environment for foreign businesses, reducing the bureaucratic costs for foreign investment and gradually implementing a 2018 draft law allowing for 100% foreign ownership across all business sectors. Qatar has initiated a process of incentivising expatriate workers.Qatar is the largest LNG exporter in the world. Qatar Petroleum will face increased competition for LNG sales worldwide, even as it boosts its own North Field production by 10%. The hydrocarbon sector represents 86.9% of Qatari merchandise exports, and this is unlikely to substantially decline, despite increasing competition globally.
Last update: November 27, 2019

Operational Outlook

A trade and diplomatic boycott by Gulf neighbours, imposed in June 2017, caused delays to construction projects as supply chains were re-routed. Although there are positive indicators of a shift in the Saudi position, the boycott is unlikely to be entirely resolved in 2020. Qatar has undertaken an expansive infrastructure development programme in preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Although high-profile projects, such as the Doha Metro, are unlikely to be cancelled, growing fiscal pressure is increasing contract re-negotiation, cancellation, and insolvency risks for subcontractors. The state's emphasis on rationalising spending and identifying essential versus non-essential projects will probably continue in 2020, increasing contract risks.

Last update: November 26, 2019

Terrorism

Moderate

There is a moderate risk of shootings and small IED attacks against Westerners and soft targets by jihadists. There is a very small proportion of Qatari jihadists fighting abroad compared with other nationalities, despite domestic support for Salafism. Potential targets in Qatar include Western residential and office buildings, hotels, international schools, and entertainment venues frequented by expatriates in the West Bay area. Western embassy staff and workers in the oil and gas industry are at moderate risk of one-off attacks while off-site, but such attacks are unlikely to cause significant material damage.

Last update: November 27, 2019

War Risks

The risk of a US-Iran war in the Gulf, which would inevitably involve Qatar, is elevated, but the probability of conflict is reduced by the strong likelihood of Iran being defeated by the US in a conventional conflict. There are indications that the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar involving Bahrain, Egypt, and the UAE will ease in 2020, including a decision by the boycotting states to attend the Gulf Cup tournament in Qatar in November 2019. The dispute is unlikely to escalate militarily as long as the US rejects this option. Although border disputes between Qatar and Saudi Arabia are common, both are part of the Gulf Cooperation Council mutual defence alliance.

Last update: November 27, 2019

Social Stability

Moderate

Qatar's generous welfare system and extensive patronage for Qatari nationals and its small population reduce the risk of politically or economically motivated unrest. There have been no widespread calls for democratic reforms. There are no organised Qatari opposition groups, and the large population of migrant workers is unlikely to protest given the high likelihood of consequent deportation. An economic and trade boycott by Saudi Arabia and the UAE imposed in June 2017 is likely to ease in 2020.

Last update: November 27, 2019

Health Risk

Elevated

Vaccinations required to enter the country

No vaccinations are required to enter the country.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Natural Risks

Very high

Sandstorms can occur at any time and regularly disrupt road and air traffic.

Rain, while rare, is generally violent and often leads to flash flooding, which can cause road accidents. Periods of heavy rain usually occur between October and March.

From April to October, temperatures can rise to 50°C (122°F). In the winter, nights can be cool with temperatures around 7° C (45 °F).

Qatar is located in a seismic zone. Strong tremors have previously been felt from powerful earthquakes with epicenters in neighboring Iran (e.g. April 2013) and Afghanistan (e.g. October 2015).

Last update: April 5, 2019

Transportation

High

Doha's Hamad International Airport (DOH), which opened in 2014, is considered one of the biggest travel hubs worldwide; more than 90 percent of travelers flying to DOH are in transit to another location.

However, all flights to and from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the UAE have been suspended since June 2017 until further notice due to an ongoing diplomatic rift (see the POLITICS section). Qatar Airways was also forced to reroute its flights given that neighboring countries (UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain) closed their airspace to Qatari planes.

The land border with Saudi Arabia is also closed until further notice and sea routes are suspended.

The national road network is well developed but construction sites located throughout the country regularly disrupt traffic. Due to rapid development in Doha, maps can be inaccurate, and GPS devices are rarely up to date. Finally, cultural and sports events usually lead to the closure of the "Corniche," one of Doha's main roads.

Authorities are very strict in enforcing traffic laws; traffic cameras are numerous and fines can be high. Qatar has a zero-tolerance policy regarding drinking and driving.

Metered taxis (turquoise in color) are available in Doha and are reliable and safe, and can be hailed on the street. Furthermore, many drivers speak English. The Uber ridesharing system is also well implemented in the country.

Road accidents are frequent due to unskilled and/or young drivers (especially on Thursday and Friday evenings), speeding, and the presence of animals on the roads.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

Qatar has an arid climate. Summers, from May to October, are scorching (up to 46°C) and humid. During this time the Shamal, a violent and dusty wind, can provoke sandstorms. Conditions during the winter (November to April) are milder with cool nights and low levels of rainfall.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +974
Police: 999
Fire Dept.: 999
Ambulance: 999

Electricity

Voltage: 240 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019