Qatar - Country Commercial Guide
Aviation & Defense

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2022-01-30

Aviation

Qatar Airways has established its position as a global aviation powerhouse in the last decade. In 2020, the company was one of the pioneers in converting passenger aircrafts to full freighter operations.  Qatar Airways is now the world’s largest cargo carrier, having transported almost 10% of global cargo payload in 2020. In 2021, it was voted the world’s best passenger airline and continues its global growth strategy, especially with the addition of more direct routes to the United States (twelve as of September 2021). Aviation is an active industry in Qatar for U.S. suppliers. Boeing and Gulfstream dominate the market because of the nature of their aircraft offerings, but other U.S. suppliers provide information technology and ground support equipment and services to Qatar Airways and its hub, Hamad International Airport.

Defense

Qatar continues to manage one of the most ambitious military modernization programs in the world, the Qatar Armed Forces rely on foreign military sales (FMS) and direct commercial sales (DCS). At U.S. Embassy Doha, FMS purchases are facilitated through the Office of Military Cooperation, while DCS purchases go through the U.S. Commercial Service.  Major purchases since 2014 include Apache helicopters, Javelin missiles, Early Warning Radar, PAC 3 Patriot systems, and F-15 fighter aircrafts.  In late 2021, Qatar received its first set of F-15 planes from Boeing.  The Qatari military is also sponsoring an initiative to create a vast network of military training facilities and programs focused on supporting its recent defense acquisitions.

Another critical player in the defense sector in Qatar is Barzan Holdings, launched in March 2018 and wholly owned by the Qatari Ministry of Defense.  Barzan Holdings acts as the procurement arm for Qatar’s Ministry of Defense on strategic projects, and has offices and investments outside of Qatar, including in Charleston, South Carolina.  It is Qatar’s global defense and security investment group working to build top-notch technological capability and human capital in the defense sector in Qatar.  Barzan and the Qatar Armed Forces are the primary end users for U.S. security and defense products and services.

The U.S. military-strategic partnership in Qatar has made great strides since 1992 and is a reliable partner in the region. The United States and Qatar signed a Defense Cooperation Agreement in 1992, which was renewed in 2013 for an additional ten years.  Al Udeid Air Base, the largest U.S. airbase in the world outside the continental United States, serves as a forward headquarters for U.S. Central and Air Force Central Commands and houses approximately 6,500 U.S. military troops.  In August-December 2021, Qatar supported the transit of thousands of evacuees from Afghanistan at Al Udeid Air Base, deepening the relationship between our two nations (https://www.afcent.af.mil/Units/379th-Air-Expeditionary-Wing/News/Display/Article/2770022/secdef-and-secstate-visit-auab/).  In November 2021, at the 4th U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue, two accords advancing future partnership on Afghanistan were signed between the U.S. and Qatar: an arrangement for Qatar to Serve as the Protecting Power for U.S. diplomatic and consular interests in Afghanistan and an MOU on Cooperation to Host Individuals at Risk Due to the Situation in Afghanistan.

Sub-Sector Best Prospects

The 2021 budget is centered on security and defense equipment, training, and technologies needed for Qatar’s role as host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.  Prioritization in budgetary items is mainly linked to the World Cup, with other projects and initiatives being relegated or postponed for 2023 and beyond, until after the World Cup has concluded.

Over the last decade, the most bought items include anti-ballistic missile systems and a new generation of fighter aircraft. In addition, military electronics and cyber systems, helicopters for special forces teams, light tactical armored vehicles with weapons systems, GBU-35 bunker-buster ammunition to be used against concrete-protected nuclear facilities, guided air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, Apache attack helicopters, and Patriot and Javelin air defense systems are also common purchases.

Opportunities

  • Training and capacity building programs
  • Cyber Security and Electronic Warfare Systems
  • Integrated air and missile defense systems
  • Navy & Marine defense systems

Web Resources

Contact the Office of Military Cooperation Qatar and the Commercial Section of the U.S. Embassy in Doha.