The economic growth of Qatar is expected to almost double this year to 16 percent, making it the fastest growing economy in the Middle East, Central Bank Governor Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani said.
The gross domestic product of the energy-rich country, which relies on oil and gas exports, expanded 8.6 percent in 2009, the governor said at an economic conference in Kuwait today.
“It comes from growth in external demand,” Simon Williams, the Dubai based chief Middle East economist at HSBC, said by telephone.
He added: “ I am looking at gains in average liquefied natural gas output as well as some other areas of exports. Domestic demand growth will be more moderate.”
Qatar is the world’s biggest producer of liquefied natural gas and a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC.
The wealth has spurred a purchase spree of assets in developed nations, including Harrods store and real estate in London, as well as domestic infrastructure projects.
The central bank’s projection for economic growth matches that of the International Monetary Fund, which expects the economy of the emirate to expand 18.6 percent in 2011.
It sets the emirate apart from neighboring countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council, a loose political and economic alliance that also includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and the UAE.
Bahrain expects its economy to expand 4 percent this year, compared with 3.5 percent in 2009, Central Bank Governor Rasheed Al Maraj told reporters today in Kuwait.
The kingdom is not worried about inflation, which the IMF projects to average at 2.6 percent this year.
Al Maraj said: “At this stage we don’t think inflation is a problem for us.”
He added: “But the global increase in food prices is a concern if it translated into higher prices in the local economy.”
The IMF expects the economies of all oil exports in the Middle East and Africa to expand 3.8 percent in 2010 and 5 percent next year.
The combined current account surplus of the oil exporters in the region will rise by about $80 billion on current oil price expectations, the IMF said on October 24. Of this, close to $50 billion is accounted for by GCC members.
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