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Sun 1 Jul 2007 12:00 AM

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Dream coming true

A look at the staggering scale of Qatar's real estate boom. But how far can it really go, asks Anil Bhoyrul.

I've only been to Doha twice, both times to visit the Qatar Financial Centre. But I have a feeling that my next visit will be to marvel at the sheer scale of the real estate boom in Qatar. It really is quite staggering.

And it is proof of the spectacular economic growth the country is enjoying. An International Bank of Qatar brief on economic and financial developments in the country says performance was ‘impressive' for a fourth consecutive year in 2006, despite constraints on resources.

The country is the top-performing economy in the region, and one of the richest countries in the world, with a per capita GDP of US$63,000. The IBQ report, produced along with the economic research team at partner International Bank of Kuwait, predicts the economy could double again by 2012.

GDP expanded by 24% in 2006, having averaged 30% over the previous three years. Growth remained high, supported by gains in hydrocarbon output and massive investment, and sustained momentum in the non-oil sector.

Government investment of US$130bn to develop energy, infrastructure, industries, utilities and aviation are planned for the next five years.

And as we report this month, there is no shortage of mega-projects when it comes to property. From the Pearl to Porto Arabia, you name it, Doha is doing it.

How far can it really go? The danger is growing too fast too soon. Price pressures continue to mount, with consumer inflation reaching 11%, driven by soaring rents, expansionary fiscal policy and resource constraints. High inflation is not expected to abate and could well become entrenched in the economy unless adjustments in the housing market stabilise rents, the study by the International Bank of Qatar warns.

But having met some of Qatar's senior business and economic figures in the past six months, I have no doubt that the country will stay on the right track - and soon overtake Switzerland as the world's richest country.