Martin Spring's On Target
Despite its tiny population (1.7 million, of whom only 300,000 are citizens, the rest being foreign workers and their families), and small size (a peninsula of 11,000 square kilometres jutting into the Persian Gulf), Qatar has established itself as a global player…
Its citizens are the world's richest in terms of average annual income, its GDP per capita having reached nearly $89,000. And it continues to grow at phenomenal rates around 20 per cent a year.
Its North Field is the biggest single deposit of natural gas, with 900 trillion cubic feet accounting for 15 per cent of global reserves. It is the world's largest supplier of liquefied natural gas, shipping 77 million tons a year, and has the biggest project converting gas into liquid fuels.
It is home to the US's military command and control centre for the Mideast, whose al-Udeid base is the hub for all US air operations in the Gulf region.
Its Al Jazeera television news service, transmitting in English as well as Arabic, is renowned for its fearless independent reporting and has become a serious competitor to CNN and the BBC in reaching global audiences.
Its Qatar Airways (my favourite carrier for flying from and to Thailand to the UK and South Africa), is growing phenomenally, at 30 per cent a year. It now has more than a hundred destinations, and is one of the handful of airlines rated five-star by Skytrax, the industry monitor.
Eoin Treacy's view
In a region beset with uncertainty, particularly since the beginning of this
year Qatar has exhibited remarkable stability not least because of sound governance.
Its position as the largest exporter of LNG places it at the centre of a major
secular bull market. Natural gas consumption remains on a long-term upward trajectory,
is becoming increasingly transportable and therefore internationally traded,
is abundant, comparatively cheap, relatively clean burning and the technology
for its exploitation and use are well understood.
The Qatar stock market index is a clear outperformer regionally, which is more a testament to the country's governance than leverage to the LNG market. It needs to break the six-month progression of lower rally highs to signal a return to medium-term demand dominance.