A new Forbes ranking of the wealthiest nations is out, and it ranks the mighty minnow Qatar at the top of the world, with per capita income of more than $88,000.
“If wealth is power, then Qataris have some serious muscle to flex. The Arabian Gulf emirate of 1.7 million people ranks as the world’s richest country per capita thanks to a rebound in oil prices and its massive natural gas reserves,” wrote Forbes’ Beth Greenfield in a report on the world’s wealthiest nations.
“Qatar has the third-largest reserves of natural gas in the world, and it has invested heavily in infrastructure to liquefy and export it, as well as to diversify its economy,” she wrote.
Qatar beat Luxembourg for the top spot, with Luxembourgeois earning more than $81,000 in per capita income, followed by Singapore at No. 3, with per capita income of $56,700.
The UAE, on the other hand, features at No. 6 with a per capita income of $47,500, trailing Norway (per capita income of nearly $52,000) and Brunei ($48,000).
Click to see gallery of the richest and poorest countries
Analysts, however, maintain that the wealth of a nation doesn’t necessarily translate into the wellbeing of its residents, especially non-citizens. Gian Luca Clementi, an associate professor of economics at New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business, is quoted by Forbes as saying while wealth is equally distributed in some countries, there are others where the distribution is far from equal.
“In Qatar, for example, the way it’s distributed is very unequal, and much of the population is actually very poor. The GDP is high because of oil revenues. And, if I were to use the GDP as an indicator of how well a country will do in the future, in Qatar what will matter is how well they actually invest it.”
For the rankings, Forbes used International Monetary Fund data from 2010 for GDP per capita adjusted for purchasing power for 182 nations.
“Like Qatar, many of the countries in the top 15 spots on our list rely on natural resources to fill their coffers. In Norway, which ranks fourth, petroleum accounts for nearly half of exports and is the main contributor to its PPP-adjusted GDP per capita of nearly $52,000; the country is also one of the world’s largest gas exporters,” wrote Greenfield.
“Brunei, meanwhile, located on the island of Borneo, reaps the benefits of extensive petroleum and natural gas fields and comes in at No. 5 with a PPP-adjusted per capita GDP of just over $48,000. And the United Arab Emirates looks to its oil and gas for about 25 per cent of its GDP, which is nearly $47,500 per capita (PPP),” she added.
Some of the other oil-producing countries featuring in the Top 15 were: Australia (No. 11), Canada (No. 14); and Kuwait (No. 15).
The Forbes list ranks a trio of politically and economically fragile African nations as the poorest ion the world. They are Burundi (per capita income of just $400 per annum), Liberia ($386) and the Democratic Republic of Congo ($312).
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