Term Paper: International Marketing: Qatar Country

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International Marketing: Qatar

Country Study of Qatar Today

Qatar has been ruled by the Al Thani family since the mid-1800s, but there have been some dramatic changes in the country's actual leadership in recent years. Today, Qatar has transformed itself from a poor British protectorate famed mostly for its pearls into a modern independent state that enjoys significant oil and natural gas revenues (Qatar, 2005). Reminiscent of the recent charges being level in the UN oil-for-food program, the Qatari economy was severely damaged during the last two decades of the 20th century by illegal activities by the current amir's father. In 1995, the amir's son, Amir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, assumed the country's leadership from his father, who was in Switzerland at the time (Bahry, 1999) in a "bloodless coup" that has proven to be in the country' best interests (Qatar, 2005). For example, in 2001, Qatar settled its longstanding border disputes with both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, and the country's oil and natural gas revenues have made it one of the highest per capita incomes in the world (Qatar, 2005). In a referendum in April, 2004, Qatari voters elected to make permanent a draft constitution that provided for universal suffrage and a 45-member advisory assembly, thereby enabling parliamentary elections in 2004; at that time, it was also anticipated that Qatar would become the Middle East's first and, soon thereafter, a global leader in the production of gas-to-liquids, including an environmentally cleaner and reduced-emissions version of conventional diesel fuel (Anthony, 2005).

According to Tom Owen, the years since Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani assumed this leadership role have been good ones; during his tenure, Qatar emerged from relative obscurity to play an increasingly important role in the Persian Gulf region (Owen, 2000). The new emir has committed to easing press censorship and pushing for more transparency of government procedures, and he has made major progress in both of these areas; however while such pluralistic initiatives have pleased Qataris, these same initiatives have caused Qatar's neighbors some major concerns (Owen, 2000). Notwithstanding the concerns of Qatar's neighbors, the consensus among the international community is that the Emir has more than fulfilled his promises he has done much to raise Qatar's profile and prestige in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and in foreign policy matters in particular (Owen, 2000). The Gulf Cooperation Council is comprised of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and was established in 1981 (Delener, 1999). Given the unstable nature of the entire region, though, it is little wonder that the Qatari government has sought to navigate a political course that would keep them solidly in line with the broader U.S.-Saudi position, while avoiding any particular initiative that might serve to rekindle any long-standing problems between Qatar and its neighbors.

Geography of Qatar.

Location. Middle East, peninsula bordering the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia (see map at Appendix A).

Land area. Qatar is slightly smaller than Connecticut (Qatar, 2005) with an area of 4,416 square miles (11,437 square km); this total includes a number of nearby small islands and the Hawar Islands (which are also claimed by Bahrain) in the Persian Gulf (State of Qatar, 2005).

Border countries.

Climate. The analysts at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) report that Qatar has an arid Climate characterized by mild, pleasant winters and very hot, humid summers.

Terrain. The country's terrain is primarily flat and barren desert covered with loose sand and gravel (Qatar, 2005).

People:

Population. 863,051 (July 2005 est.) (Qatar, 2005).

Birth rates. According to 2005 estimates, the population growth rate in Qatar is 2.61% and the birth rate is 15.54 births/1,000 population (State of Qatar, 2005). The upper-income countries of the Middle East such as Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Israel have a life expectancy of above 72 years (Sahliyeh, 2000).

Ethnic groups. The ethnic breakdown of Qatar is provided in Table 1 and Figure 1 below:

Table 1. Ethnic groups in Qatar today (2005 est).

Arab 40%

Pakistani 18%

Indian 18%

Iranian 10%

Other 14%

Figure 1. Ethnic groups in Qatar today (2005 est).

Source: Based on data in Qatar, 2005.

Major religions. The vast majority of the country is Muslim (95%) (Qatar, 2005).

Official language; other major languages spoken. Arabic is the official language of Qatar, although English serves as a lingua franca for many business and social purposes (Qatar, 2005).

Literacy rate. Given the country's affluence, the literacy rate in Qatar may surprise some international observers; today, 89% of the Qatari population is considered literate (defined as those over the age of 15 years who can read and write), with an almost even mix of literacy rates between males and females: males, 89.1%; females, 88.6% (State of Qatar, 2005). There are signs that the Qatari government is attempting to improve this literacy rate though; for example, there have been five branch campuses of the U.S.'s most prominent universities established in Qatar's new "Education City" in recent months. These efforts have surpassed the previous norm for cooperative academic arrangements between countries worldwide; furthermore, Qatar was also importing and applying these universities' exact standards for measuring academic achievement and awarding degrees in the fields of engineering, medicine, information technology, business administration, design, and educational planning (Anthony, 2005). "The breakthrough represented a first not only for the Arab countries, the Middle East, and the Islamic world but also for less-developed countries in general" (Anthony, 2005, p. 5).

Type of government:

Political system. Qatari continues to have a traditional monarchy for its political system; therefore, there are no political parties (Qatar, 2005).

Legal system. In a traditional monarchy, the ruler's word remains the law of the land; however, while Qatar's "discretionary system of law" remains under the control of the amir, civil codes are being implemented. Despite these initiatives, though, Islamic law continues to control family life and personal matters (State of Qatar, 2005).

Diplomatic representation in the U.S. (embassy and consulates). The Qatari government is represented in the United States through its chief of mission, Ambassador Nasir bin Hamad bin Mubarak al-Khalifa at its chancery located at 4200 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20016 (telephone: and 274-1603; fax). Qatar also maintains a consulate general in Houston, Texas (Qatar, 2005).

Country's capital city. The capital is Doha (Ad-Dawhah), located on the east coast of the country; Doha was once a center of pearling activity (Anthony, 2005).

Economy:

Gross domestic product. Qatar remained first among GCC countries in annual GDP growth rate in 2004 (Anthony, 2005). According to 2004 estimates by the CIA, Qatar's GDP - real growth rate was a healthy 8.7%, with a per capita GDP of $23,200, an amount that represents approximately 80% of the leading West European industrial countries (State of Qatar, 2005)

Current economic condition. Several recent accomplishments have highlighted Qatar's continuing robust economic, social, and political development together with the further modernization of its system of governance. For example, Qatar completed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the U.S. which paves the way for further bilateral free-trade agreements; the potential benefits are immense. The U.S. stands to gain an assured long-term supply of the world's largest and least-expensive sources of natural gas; for Qatar, this agreement represents a further strengthening of a strategic energy relationship with the world's largest economy (Anthony, 2005).

Proved oil reserves of 16 billion barrels should ensure continued output at current levels for 23 years. The country has more than 14 trillion cubic meters proved reserves of natural gas, which is more than 5% of the world total and third largest in the world (State of Qatar, 2005). The Qatari government has launched long-term plans to develop its offshore natural gas reserves to ensure a continuing supply in the future. Finally, as a result of high oil prices and increased natural gas exports in recent years, Qatar has enjoyed enormous trade surpluses and has emerged as one of the world's fastest growing and highest per-capita income countries in the 21st century (State of Qatar, 2005).

Major exports. Today, oil and gas account for more than 55% of Qatar's GDP, approximately 85% of its export earnings, and 70% of government revenues; other exports include other petroleum products, fertilizers, and steel (Qatar, 2005). Exports totaled approximately $15 billion (FOB) by 2004 estimates (Qatar, 2005).

Major imports. Qatar's major imports are machinery and transport equipment, food, and chemicals (Qatar, 2005).

Major trading partners. Qatar's major trading partners and their respective percentages are provided in Table 2 below:

Table 2. Major trading partners of Qatar (2004 est.).

Japan 41.9%'

South Korea 15.8%

Singapore 9.1%

India 5.4%

Source: State of Qatar, 2005.

Furthermore, Qatar is also becoming closer aligned with the UAE and Oman, as a southern Gulf bloc begins to develop in the region. The most obvious reflection of this trend is the Dolphin project; this initiative involves construction of a natural gas pipeline from Qatar's massive North Field gas bubble to Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Oman and eventually Pakistan. The project is priced at $8… [END OF PREVIEW]

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