Expats remit QR15bn from Qatar but will the trend continue

A marked increase in remittances has been observed in Qatar in recent months and the steady exit of capital is directly attributed to an increase in expatriates in the region according to analysts in the Gulf State.

According to newspaper sources in Qatar, expat worker remittances have risen to almost 7 billion US dollars over the course of the past year. Continuing the steady increase in annual remittances that has been observed in the Gulf state over the past four years.

Remittances by expatriates, the majority of which are Asian, Arabian or western, have increased steadily since 2005. In 2005 they stood at QR10.9bn, 2006 QR14.2bn, 2007 QR16.2bn, 2008 QR19.03bn and QR25.3bn in 2009. The total amount of remittances during the past five years adds up to QR85.3bn.

The figures, which were released by the Qatar Central Bank (QCB) this week, show that of Qatar currently has a population of 1.63 million people. Their native population, however, totals just 200,000. The population is estimated to reach 2.4 million people by 2030, marking an increase of 2.4million. However, not everyone shares the view that expatriate workforces will continue to increase in the state.

The influx of expatriates in the region has been attributed to Qatar’s recent economy boom but, warns HSBC economist Simon Williams, such a population growth is likely to slow significantly in future years: “It has been an exceptionally rapid phase of economic growth, and that’s required strong gains in the workforce. As the economy matures, the pace of demographic growth will moderate as well.

“Many people are involved in the buildout of Qatar’s energy infrastructure – when the work is done, they will go home.”

His views were shared by research analyst Vanessa Rossi from Chatham House in UK newspaper The Telegraph: “Some of the jobs for migrants will disappear – not only because construction will tail off but also because more jobs will be taken over by better trained local talent in the future, especially in office/services functions such as IT, the financial sector, property, and business management.

“It would seem reasonable to see this population growth tapering off in the range of two to three million residents in the future.”

Ali Al-Saffar, from the Economist Intelligence Unit, painted a different picture. Speaking to The Media Line, he estimated that manual expatriate labor would continue to flow into the country at a steady rate in order to meet the continued demand: “They (Qatar) have the ability to finance but not to build.

“It’s not surprising when you consider what happened to the economy between 2006 and 2010, during which GDP (gross domestic product) has doubled,” he said.

“There are several reasons for this; one is the LNG (liquefied natural gas) production has soared. The LNG production has tripled in the last four years and oil production has increased by 25 percent.

“$34 billion of projects are coming online in 2010, from roads to LNG plants to financial centers; any type of infrastructure,” he said.