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Qatar economy jumps 59% in first nine months

Qatar has recorded the highest growth rate in the region. (AFP)

By Staff Writer

Qatar's economy continued its rapid climb and jumped by nearly 59 per cent in the first nine months of 2008 despite a sharp decline in oil prices in the last weeks of that period, official figures showed yesterday.

The Gulf country's gross domestic product stood at QR107.79 billion (Dh109bn) in the first nine months of 2008 compared with nearly QR66.56bn (Dh67.5bn) in the same period of 2007, showed the figures by Qatar's Statistics Authority of the Government Planning Council.

The GDP even recorded better quarterly performance, leaping by around 63 per cent in the third quarter of 2008 over the same period of 2007.

Oil and gas contributed by 73 per cent of the GDP growth in the first nine months of 2008 while gas alone accounted for nearly half, the report showed.

Qatar has recorded the highest economic growth rate in the region over the past few years because of strong oil prices and a surge in its liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, which exceeded 30 million tonnes in 2008 and are projected to soar to 77 million tonnes by 2011.

The surge has allied with higher global prices to fuel inflation, which was expected to have peaked at 13.8 per cent in 2008. It is forecast to slow down in 2009 as a result of falling global prices and strengthening US dollar.

Qatar launched mega LNG projects in early 1990s to tap its mammoth offshore North Field, which straddles nearly 6,000 square kilometres of Qatari and Iranian water in the Gulf and is the world's largest single reservoir of non-associated gas, with estimated reserves of around 902 trillion cubic feet.

The rapid rise in its GDP has turned Qatar into one of the 10 wealthiest nations, with its per capita income exceeding $70,000 in 2008. The government-owned Qatar Petroleum has approved a staggering QR222.7bn for its oil and gas development scheme during 2008-2012.

The oil plan will lift production from its onshore and offshore fields from the current 860,000bpd to around 1.08 million bpd by the end of 2010. About QR104bn will be pumped into refining and gas-to-liquids projects while the natural gas sector will receive nearly QR63bn. Allocations included QR25bn for industries, QR19.7bn for crude oil and around QR11bn for petrochemicals.