Qatar - Country Commercial Guide
Market Opportunities

Overview of best prospect sectors, major infrastructure projects, significant government procurements and business opportunities.

Last published date: 2022-01-30

The U.S. Commercial Service assesses that the best market opportunities for U.S. companies are in sectors such as infrastructure, ICT, food products, energy, healthcare, aviation, and defense.

The Government of Qatar budgeted $57.8 billion for expenditures in 2020, of which 43% was allocated spending on “Major Projects,” a category that includes infrastructure, healthcare, transportation, and education.  Government spending will continue to support the long-term strategic goals set forth under the Qatar National Vision 2030, which include developing a knowledge-based economy and increasing the share of GDP derived from non-extractive industries.

The government has taken several initiatives to encourage more foreign companies to do business and invest in Qatar over the past year.  The MoCI is leading the efforts on both the Foreign Direct Investment Law and Public-Private Partnership (PPP) law.  The PPP law was approved by the cabinet in April 2019 and signed by the Amir of Qatar on May 31, 2020, establishing a framework and providing increased opportunities for U.S. firms to gain access to the country’s infrastructure sectors, particularly in the healthcare, education, and waste management subsectors.  

Information and Communications Technology (ICT)

The ICT sector has also been a key Qatari government focus since the 2017 announcement of a “Smart Nation” program, which allocated more than $1.5 billion for ICT solutions in the transport, logistics, health, spots, and environmental sectors and is aimed at transforming Qatar into one of the most digitally connected countries in the world. The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (formerly part of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, until the October 2021 Cabinet restructuring) has taken the lead on this program. Qatar has announced landmark deals with major U.S. companies, including with Microsoft on an Azure Data Center that is scheduled to open in Qatar in 2022, and with Google Cloud on its first Middle East data center region.

Food Products

The Gulf Rift from 2017-2021 significantly complicated trade routes, with food being among the most urgent sectors impacted.  Qatar imports over 90% of its food, and prior to the June 2017 blockade, Qatar received nearly 40% of its food shipments via Saudi Arabia.  Major food suppliers to Qatar were forced to establish alternative trade routes and food security became and continues to be a top priority.  The government of Qatar continues to aggressively invest in local food production and has notably improved its food security since 2017, both by importing food products from a more diverse set of trading partners and by investing heavily in building food industries from the ground up, which presents an array of opportunities for U.S. companies. 

Energy: The energy sector, specifically oil & gas production in Qatar, continues to present some of the greatest opportunities for U.S. companies, especially with Qatar’s mega North Field LNG expansion project.  The project is set to increase natural gas production by 43% in 2026 — from 77.1 million tons per annum (mtpa) to 110 mtpa.  Qatar expects to achieve 64% more LNG production at 126 mtpa by 2027.  Qatar Energy (formerly Qatar Petroleum) plans to develop and operate a new petrochemical complex in Ras Laffan Industrial City, which will feature the region’s largest ethane cracker facility. Such projects provide additional opportunities for American companies to consider.

Climate Change and Sustainability

There has been a growing emphasis in Qatar (along with recent global commitments to net-zero emissions) to tackle climate change and address Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) concerns. This shift in focus benefits Qatar because of the importance of LNG as a lower-carbon transition fuel to replace coal as an energy source. In October 2021, Qatar released its Climate Change Strategy (CCS), which is focused on adaptation and mitigation, urban planning and development, and spatial land use.  There will be some business opportunities in the following areas:

  1. Air Quality - The government is trying to improve the country’s air quality, maintain the quality of the seawater and preserve biodiversity, in addition to chemical and radiological safety and security. The long-term plan is to “become a society completely free of landfills.”
  1. Urban Beautification - The government is also aiming at the “beautification of cities and increasing green spaces to promote sustainable urban health.”  There are plans for improving the level and quality of green spaces and increasing green areas.
  1. Sustainability – The government is seeking better ways to manage natural resources, use less energy, and reduce carbon emissions.

Defense, Aviation, Security

The strong and growing bilateral security partnership between Qatar and the United States is demonstrated by a series of major U.S. defense sales to Qatar.  Qatar’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program forms the cornerstone of security cooperation between U.S. and Qatari forces, with a total case value of over $26 billion in sales since 2017 - the second highest in the world.  Since 2014, the U.S. has also authorized the permanent export of billions in defense articles to Qatar via the Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) process. As demonstrated in recent years, Qatar’s plan to expand and modernize its military will continue to provide opportunities for foreign military and direct commercial sales, especially training and capacity building programs across all branches of the Qatar Armed Forces. In addition to military modernization initiatives, Qatar’s significant demand for aviation technology is driven by the global expansion plan of the national commercial airline, Qatar Airways, as well as the expansion of Qatar’s sole commercial airport, Hamad International Airport.  Lastly, security solutions are a top priority in the months ahead as Qatar prepares to host the FIFA Men’s World Cup in November-December 2022.