Qatar has allocated $125 billion to be spent on development projects over the next five years, making it the first five-year plan announced by the natural-gas-rich nation.
Qatari Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, speaking at a ceremony held in Doha on March 28th to launch the five-year development plan, said the country's "exceptional growth" has restored well-being to the nation and its citizens, but has also created challenges that must be overcome through developing executive agencies.
He said the National Development Strategy 2011-2016 puts in place a more coherent and cohesive approach to achieve sustainable development, avoid "redundancy and waste", and modernise and develop public sector institutions. He emphasised that this will ensure proper utilisation of natural resources to serve the current generation and generations to come.
The strategy lists about 176 new projects to be implemented during the next five years, with Qatar planning to invest $60 billion through its semi-governmental companies as well as $65 billion on infrastructure projects.
The document indicates that the investment plans of the Qatari companies, excluding Qatar Petroleum and its units, will exceed $35 billion from 2011 to 2016. Some $27 billion in investments on residential and commercial construction projects will be undertaken by the two real estate companies Barwa Real Estate and Qatari Diar.
The document also says that 2010 was a pivotal year for Qatar Petroleum and its subsidiaries with the start of several projects for liquefied natural gas, and that their investments will total about $24 billion from 2011 to 2016.
Ibrahim al-Ibrahim, the emir's economic adviser, said the development plan for the next five years aims to preserve the achievements of the state.
"The plan focuses on the principle of developing institutions and training human resources in order to overcome challenges that may impede the implementation process," al-Ibrahim told Al-Shorfa.
Al-Ibrahim said that the plan operates in accordance with the principle of sustainability, tries to maintain the momentum of resources to serve future generations, and seeks to reduce waste of resources in the present.
Saif bin Khater, an economist at the Doha Economic Institution, says the five-year plan announced by Qatar also aims to develop its national workforce which it needs for continued development.
"The plan is considered to be the beginning of a new economic and development era in Qatar," he said. "It is the first time a five-year plan has been announced, and this is an achievement in itself. The plan is a road drawn before government agencies and the private sector in order to reach goals and objectives."
Khater said announcement of the new plan was a "major shift in the governmental framework in Qatar. Today we are facing an economic scene with extensive planning and precision, which has many implications for the executive agencies in Qatar."
Qatar is considered one of the world's richest countries in natural gas, and the country enjoys the highest per capita income in the world, reaching about $82,000 thousand dollars a year for 2010, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Regarding the ability of these agencies to implement the plan successfully, Khater said, "I think that Qatari institutions, during the past ten years, have gained considerable experience and entered foreign competitions with good results, meaning that today they have the necessary background to help them implement this plan."
Badr al-Darwish, president of the Darwish Holding Group, said the budget announced by Qatar "will work to increase the pace of economic development in the country".
"The five-year plan and annual budget represent the aspirations of all businessmen in Qatar, as it will contribute to the start of World Cup 2022 projects and also work to achieve Qatar's Vision 2030," al-Darwish told Al-Shorfa. He stressed that the new plan would push the pace of business toward rapid growth in the coming period.
Al-Darwish emphasised the importance of Qatari businessmen performing their roles to achieve development. "The success of any development plan does not depend primarily on the state," he said. "Rather, there must be a complementary role among all segments of society, particularly the private sector."