Posted on February 19, 2019

Most of the executives interviewed for the 2019 edition of the Business Barometer: Qatar CEO Survey carried out by Oxford Business Group (OBG) were positive about the economic outlook for the coming months, despite having had to grapple with fluctuating commodity prices and a regional embargo over the past 18 months.

As part of its survey on the economy, the global research and consultancy firm asked more than 100 C-suite executives from across Qatar’s industries a wide-ranging series of questions on a face-to-face basis aimed at gauging business sentiment. The results are now available to view in full on OBG’s Editors’ Blog at: https://oxfordbusinessgroup.com/blog/billy-fitzherbert/obg-business-barometer/how-has-blockade-reshaped-qatars-growth-strategies

When asked, 84% of respondents said they felt positive or very positive about local business conditions in the near term. Just over half (51%) of those interviewed told OBG that they expected full-year economic growth to reach between 2% and 3% in 2019, just below the IMF’s forecast of 3.1%, while almost one-fifth (18%) gave an estimation of between 3% and 4%. In another sign that Qatar’s efforts to enhance its business climate are delivering results, 56% of executives surveyed said they believed the sector in which they operate is ready to implement value-added tax ahead of its introduction, reflecting the IMF’s observations in November when its delegation praised the country’s prudent fiscal policy, healthy financial system and accelerated structural reforms that were taking place.

With a raft of infrastructure projects under way and more in the pipeline as Qatar’s preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup gain pace, there were also indications of the key skills that business leaders believe are in high demand locally. From the executives interviewed, 25% cited engineering skills as those most in need, closely followed by management, which was chosen by 24% of respondents, well ahead of computer tech, and research and development, which placed third and fourth respectively. Unsurprisingly, respondents cited regional political volatility as the top external event they felt was likely to weigh on Qatar’s economy in the short to medium term, beyond movements in commodity prices.

Commenting in his blog, Billy FitzHerbert, OBG’s Regional Editor for the Middle East, said the general consensus among business leaders interviewed was that Qatar had not only weathered the storm of the embargo, but had come out fighting. “While one might understandably suspect a case of over-bullishness here on the part of Qatari companies, digging down into the figures reveals that the sentiment is shared by both locals and foreigners alike: just under half (43%) of the CEOs we surveyed were heads of non-local companies,” he noted.

FitzHerbert said the speed with which the authorities had minimised disruptions to imports by successfully seeking out new trading partners had been crucial to boosting sentiment and securing continued growth. “Moving into 2019, the country’s second National Development Strategy 2018-22, launched in March 2018, will come increasingly to the fore,” he added. “One key strategy area is foreign direct investment, with the government recognising the importance of private sector participation in the development of economic infrastructure. “

FitzHerbert’s in-depth evaluation of the survey’s results can be found on OBG’s Editor’s Blog, titled ‘Next Frontier’. All four of OBG’s regional managing editors use the platform to share their expert analysis of the latest developments taking place across the sectors of the 30+ high-growth markets covered by the company’s research. The OBG Business Barometer: CEO Surveys features in the Group’s extensive portfolio of research tools. The full results of the survey on Qatar will be made available online and in print. Similar studies are also under way in the other markets in which OBG operates.

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