Qatar at the crossroads, GU-Q professor presents economic outlook
More than 240 people gathered on the campus of Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) to attend an expert presentation and assessment of Qatar’s economic past, present and future outlook entitled “Qatar at a Crossroads”, presented by Dr. Alexis Antoniades, the university’s director of international economics and a ten year veteran of Qatar’s economy. The engaged audience included foreign diplomats, prominent members of the business community, local officials, and the public, who were given an overview of Qatar’s economy along with strategic recommendations and concrete next steps to ensure a prosperous future for Qatar.
The evening began with a detailed journey of the last decade of economic progress and the nation’s energy export based development focused on the key objectives of preserving the wealth for future generations, creating jobs for a young population, and attracting both Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and foreign businesses to Qatar. He continued to describe Qatar’s milestone achievements in building modern transportation infrastructure, along with advanced healthcare, education, banking, and transportation systems based on revenues from energy exports.
He then went on to describe the current economic slowdown that he attributed to the recent decline in oil prices, the completion in infrastructure projects as the construction boom is coming to an end, a decline in consumer purchasing power, and a mismatch between oversupply and reduced demand, particularly in the hospitality and the retail sectors.
With regards to the impact of the blockade Dr. Antoniades noted: “While the blockade had disrupted the supply chain, its impact on the economy has been muted. But the blockade did act as a catalyst for change in the right direction by enhancing further collaboration, coordination, and a sense of urgency among decision makers.”
While Dr. Antoniades expects the slow-down to persist for a couple more years, he does see potential for growth in specific sectors. However in order to fully utilize that potential, he advises that if the government and institutions want to attract new businesses, they must think, act, and operate with all the efficiencies of a business. He concluded by emphasizing the need to support existing businesses, and especially family businesses many of which face the 3rd generation succession challenge, and cautioned against substantial risks looming on the horizon including the higher interest rates in the U.S., a potential correction in global markets, and the situation in neighboring Saudi Arabia.