|Natural Gas sector continues to lead the economic diversification efforts and provides the momentum for reshaping the economy. The Qatari economy's vulnerability to oil price movements, as well as the finite nature of oil reserves has led the Government to exploit Qatar's significant reserves of natural gas and to promote investment in the non-oil sector of the economy.
The Economy of Qatar
The rapidly expanding Natural Gas sector continues to lead the economic diversification efforts and provides the momentum for reshaping the economy. The Qatari economy's vulnerability to oil price
movements, as well as the finite nature of oil reserves has led the Government to exploit Qatar's significant reserves of natural gas and to promote investment in the non-oil sector of the economy.
With the recent development of projects to produce and export Natural gas in the form of LNG, piped gas, GTL and investments in petrochemical and fertiliser industries, Qatar has been successful in diversifying its revenue base by reducing its historic dependence on oil export revenues. Although economic performance is still largely dependent on oil revenues, the contribution of LNG has increased significantly over the past few years. The share of the oil and gas sector in the overall GDP stood at 57% in 2002, 59% in 2003, while preliminary estimates from the Planning Council show an increase to 62% in 2004, mainly due to the rise in oil and gas prices and production.
Qatar's rapid economic growth is fast enabling it to reach the top ranks of the wealthiest countries' in the world, through the measure of per capita incomes. In 2003, Qatar's GDP per capita reached a high of $31,897 with the 2004 figure showing a record level of $36,476. Qatar's GDP per capita will remain at enviable levels in the coming years.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
Qatar's nominal GDP growth has reached record levels, averaging 18.9% over the past five years (2000-2004). Primary attributes for this rapid pace come from the underlying increased exports of oil, LNG, petrochemicals and related industries, coupled along with favourable prices. The final GDP figures for the year 2003 released by the Planning Council shows that nominal GDP grew by a substantial 19.8%, to reach OR 85.9 billion (Table2.1), compared to the preliminary estimate of OR 74.3 billion. In 2003, the oil and gas sector witnessed a growth of 24.1 %, while the non-oil sector grew by 14.0%. For 2004, preliminary estimates from the Planning Council show GDP growth continuing at an impressive rate of 20.5% (Fig 2.1), to reach OR 103.6 billion. Qatar's GDP has more than doubled since 1999, when it was at a level of OR 45.1 billion, to the current level in 2004 of OR 103.6 billion.
Constitution and Legal System
The National Constitution Committee, established by an emiri decree in July 1999 to draft a new
permanent constitution, presented a final draft to HH the Emir in July 2002. One of the main provisions in the new constitution is the establishment of an elected parliament. The draft constitution received an overwhelming majority vote in the referendum held in April 2003.
The Judiciary in Qatar was expressly established as an independent body by the provisional constitution and is currently divided into two court systems; the civil, commercial and criminal system and the Sharia Court system which administers Islamic laws.
The civil and commercial system was formerly divided into the Minor and Major courts. The Minor court had jurisdiction to consider only disputes not exceeding QR 30,000 presided by a single judge. All civil and commercial disputes in excess of that value were heard by the Major courts, comprised of a panel of three judges. Appeals from the Minor courts were raised to the Major courts, and from the Major courts to the Court of Appeal, which is the highest court of appeal in the country.
In October 2004, the judicial system underwent a radical change with the establishment of the new Judiciary Law issued in 2003, which became effective in 2004. According to the new Judiciary Law, the previous two court system has merged into one. A Higher Court called the Court of Cassation (Supreme Court) has been established. Appeals from the Court of Appeal can be raised to the Court of Cassation, which will be considered the highest court of appeal in the country.