Qatar became the wealthiest nation on earth in 2010 after it steadily pushed up its way on the global rich list, aided by its massive gas wealth. The small European state of Luxembourg was the second richest while Kuwait and the UAE followed Qatar as the wealthiest countries in the Arab region.
The three Arab countries were the only regional nations to be ranked among the 20 richest countries in the world according to a 2010 list by Global Finance, a leading US business magazine, which has released the list recently.
Surprisingly, the tiny Gulf island of Bahrain was ahead of Saudi Arabia in the last although it does not export oil and the Saudi Kingdom controls more than a fifth of the world’s recoverable oil resources.
Although it sits atop the world’s third largest oil deposits of around 115 billion barrels, conflict-battered Iraq lagged behind most Arab countries and was ranked 124 in the rich list after its economy was wrecked by decades of wars.
Global Finance said it covered 182 countries in its wealth classification, which is based on comparing the living standards of the overall population of one country by using gross domestic product (GDP) per capita based on party or purchasing power balance internationally. It said the method uses indicators of the relative cost of living, inflation, and exchange rate of a country.
“The richest country is occupied by Qatar a GDP per capita of $ 90,149 in 2010. The poorest country is the Republic of Congo, with a per capita of only $ 342.”
The report noted that Qatar is now the largest gas exporter in the world and its proven natural gas resources of 25 trillion cubic metres are the world’s third largest after those of Russia and Iran.
With a population of 1.15 million in 2009, Qatar has just completed the bulk of mammoth gas projects that boosted its LNG output to 77 million tonnes per year, more than a fifth of the total global LNG supplies.
Qatar launched costly LNG projects in mid 1995 with the help of foreign partners to tap its gigantic offshore North Field, which straddles over 6,000 square km across the Qatari-Iranian water. The field is believed to be the largest single reservoir of non-associated gas in the world.
LNG exports have largely boosted Qatar’s income, which is also supported by crude oil sales, and allowed it to record one of the highest growth rates.
“Interestingly, Qatar is the only country from the Arab region that included in the top ten world's richest nations,” Global Finance said.
The report showed the other countries in the 10 richest nations include by order of their wealth Luxembourg, Norway, Singapore, oil-rich Brunei, the United States, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Netherlands and Australia.
The 10 rich countries that followed those nations include Austria, Canada, Ireland, Kuwait, Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, the UAE, Belgium and Britain.
The remaining Arab nations were ranked as follows: Bahrain (33), Oman (36), Saudi Arabia (38), Lebanon (54), Libya (57), Tunisia (89), Algeria (98), Egypt (104), Jordan (107), Syria (111), Morocco (117), Iraq (124), Yemen (136), Djibouti (137), Sudan (138), Mauritania (145) and Comoros (166).
The report showed the poorest 10 countries were by order of their poverty Congo, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Liberia, Eritrea, Niger, Central African Republic, Sierra Leone, Togo and Madagascar.
It also showed there was a large gap between the richest and second richest nation, with Qatar’s per capita standing at $90.149 and that of Luxembourg at around $79,411. Compared to the poorest nation, Qatar’s GDP stood at nearly 263 times Congo’s GDP per capita of $342.