DOHA: The population imbalance in Qatar caused by the domination of unskilled foreign work force would be addressed with completion of all the major infrastructural projects ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the gradual transformation of the country to a knowledge-based economy, a senior Qatari official told the third Global Investment Forum here on Wednesday.
The rapid developments taking place in education, health, Information and Communication Technology and the tourism and hospitality industry will accelerate this change. Panelists at a session focusing on Qatar also underlined the opportunities offered by the FIFA World Cup to investors inside and outside the country.
The Qatar country focus session featured Eng Abdulla Abdulaziz Al Subaie, the Group CEO of Barwa Real Estate and MD and Board Member of Qatar Railway Company, Shahzad Shahbaz, Chief Executive Officer of QInvest and Dr Hessa Al Jaber, secretary general of ictQATAR.
“The infrastructural projects being implemented ahead of the FIFA World Cup will bring more skilled and unskilled foreign workers to the country in the next five years. However, most of these workers would leave the country after completion of these projects. Qatar will need more skilled workers in the long run, as it moves away from a hydro-carbon based economy to a knowledge-based economy,” said Sheikha Al Hessa.
She said the IT and telecommunication sectors in the country were positioned for a major growth in the next few years, with more connectivity, high-speed broadband net work, Qatar’s own satellites to be launched by 2013 and high quality submarine cables to connect with other countries. ICT currently contributes 1.7 per cent of the GDP which is expected to grow to 3.7 percent by 2013 and again double by 2015.
She said despite the challenges posed by an expatriate dominated population, a promising aspect is that about 50 percent of the native population in the GCC are youngsters. In Qatar their ratio is 34 percent.
“There is a lack of Arabic content in the ICT. This is a niche area where the skilled local work force can involve, without relying on international companies,” said Sheikha Hessa. Al Subaie said the real estate sector would see a surge in demand with work on major infrastructural projects scheduled to begin next year. A whopping $25bn have been allotted for the metro, road and rail net work.
The hospitality industry will also see a rapid growth with the number of hotel rooms planned to increase from 10,000 to 60,000 by 2022.