Qatar: Rising Star of the Middle East

16 Aug 2015

The rise of many developing nations in the East has been the talk of the global economic world for the past decade. The BRIC nations have taken up all the media attention and world leader attention with the pace and passion for being seen as formidable forces in the world economy. Today more nations are waking up to fact that they need to develop and expand their economies to stay competitive in a changing world. A surprising and ambitious newcomer on the international scene and in the politics of the Middle East is the Persian Gulf Emirate of Qatar, a country that became independent in 1971 when Britain ended its protectorate there.  Qatar has more immigrants than indigenous populations and this has also been a great lead to change the way the country has decided to grow in the past few years.

One of the biggest contributing factors to Qatar’s growth is its abundance of natural resources.  It is the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas due to development of the technology which has resulted in Qatar becoming the nation with very high GDP growth and a low unemployment rate and the country with the highest per-capita income in the world. As a result of its wealth, Qatar under the autocratic rule of the emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani , who took power in 1995 after a bloodless coup against his own father, has been relentlessly active in acquiring valuable and prestigious assets around the world.

Today Qatar has expanded its footprint into many countries and industries across the world. Some of the most prominent holding and investments the nation has made are into the popular soccer French team, Paris Saint-Germain and the accompanying PSG handball team.  In addition it has holdings in the luxury fashion industry, heavy industry, energy resources, media, real estate, retail and investment funds, all of which are in France. Similarly in Italy and Greece they have bought up several banks, retail companies and large tracts of real estate. They have invested into the holding companies of luxury cars brands such as Porsche and consumer brands like Siemens. In London they have prestigious investments into Harrods, Park Lane Intercontinental Hotel, the Shard, One Hyde Park and shares in a number of companies. In the USA, Qatar has invested into liquid gas assets and film companies.

While many it might seem that these investments are a sign of Qatar conquering the world, Qatar only claims to be making these strategic investments as part of a plan to make Qatar a formidable economic power. These extensive global investments have also given Qatar a considerable political influence in today’s world.  It has become a member of important organizations, such as OPEC and the Gulf Cooperation Council (which it helped found) and the Arab League.  It has made a show of friendship to the U.S. by allowing the use its air bases to supply American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It has also played a significant role in the Middle East crisis with its vital role in the downfall of Mubarak in Egypt and Gaddafi in Libya. It is also supporting the Syrian rebels against President Assad. It is also one of the only Middle East nations to have cordial relations with Iran. The emir has also be part of the developmental projects in the Gaza strip with his generous donations. These activities have made the world stand up and take view of the nation and consider it to be serious contender in the economic and political future.

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