Tuesday, March 5, 2013

New study points to Qatar’s shifting economic trends

A report issued by the Ministry of Trade and Business this week gives an overview of Qatar economy’s evolution over the last three decades until 2012.

The report, called Qatar Business and Trade 2012 Study, aims to provide context to economic stakeholders and decision-makers with information and data that will facilitate Qatar’s way forward to growth and sustainable development.

The Ministry hopes to publish similar reports on an annual basis from now on. Next year’s report will compare the results from 2013 with those of the previous years. The report brought out the fact that Qatar is embarking on plans to diversify its economy away from its heavy dependence on hydrocarbons to a knowledge-based economy.

But it will be a challenging mission for the state. As hydrocarbons account for 58% of Qatar’s nominal GDP, it will be extremely difficult to reduce dependence on them. But with vision and proper planning, this could be achieved gradually. To diversify its economy, Qatar has already taken steps like investing in foreign assets, introducing regulations to stimulate economic growth, encouraging a knowledge-based economy and promoting itself as a tourist destination leading up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. And some of these measures have already started paying dividends.

 As QNB Capital CEO Salman al-Muhannadi pointed out during a panel discussion at the report’s release, the only way to shift from a hydrocarbon-based economy to a knowledge-based one was through the creation of quality human resources. He urged the private sector to play a key role in this economic shift. The education sector, the report notes, has experienced a 19% growth over the last 10 years while the healthcare sector in Qatar has witnessed a strong 15% growth in terms of the number of new entities registered.

The positive growth trends in the education and healthcare sectors indicate that the Qatari market is moving in line with the 2030 National Vision. Octogenarian leader holds Italy’s fate As Italy faces a deep political crisis, the fate of the country is in the hands of an octogenarian former communist only weeks from retirement. Under Italy’s constitution, President Giorgio Napolitano, 87, is charged with trying to find the way out of an intractable impasse caused by a huge protest vote in the February 24-25 election, which saw no group emerge with enough support to govern.

 The task is exceedingly difficult, but if anybody can succeed it is probably Napolitano, who enjoys both huge respect and popularity, and has shown skill in navigating previous major storms in Italy. In fact after an election in which Italians vented their rage against the politicians, he may be the only traditional political figure left who commands much respect at all.

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