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Demography, Migration, and Labour Market in Qatar

  • Françoise De Bel-Air
Publisher: Gulf Research Center
Date of Publication: Aug 2014
Publications Categories: Research Papers & Analysis


In 2013, Qatar ranked second worldwide in terms of per capita GDP. This is due to its huge endowment in hydrocarbons and the small size of its national population, the smallest in all GCC countries. Exploiting the resources and channeling them into ambitious development policies required massive imports of foreign labour. The country’s total population has quintupled since the mid 1980s; moreover, foreign nationals made an estimated 85.7 per cent of all residents and up to 94.1 per cent of all employed population in 2013. The awarding of the 2022 FIFA World Cup to Qatar in December 2010 turned the spotlight on the country’s dilemma regarding the “number vs. rights trade off ” issue: Qatar has one of the most constraining kafala systems in the region. Paradoxically, however, demographic data also indicate that a growing share of foreigners live with their families, give birth in the country, and intermarry with Qataris. The strict separation between nationals and migrants could thus start slowly eroding.

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