Qatar's financial sector is expected to add 5,200 jobs this year as the country's banks and investment companies buck the downward trend in the regional economy. The number of people working for Qatar's fast-growing financial companies is expected to rise to 20,100 by the end of the year, according to a report by the executive search firm Kinsey Allen International. "The number of people working in the financial services sector in Qatar has increased by an average of 35 per cent year on year over the last four years," said James Bridgman, the managing director of Kinsey Allen in the Middle East.
"This wave of job creation is being driven by the overall strength of the economy and the foreign money flooding into Qatar." Qatar's economy has been given a boost during the global crisis by large revenues from liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects that started production in 2008 and last year. With the new projects, Qatar has become the world's largest exporter of LNG. Output this year is expected to be double the level of production in recent years.
Oil and gas revenues have aided the rise of Qatar's financial sector as the emirate vies with Dubai, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia for pre-eminence among the region's financial centres. Despite its growth, the Qatari financial sector remains smaller than those in the more established centres such as Dubai and Bahrain. Financial firms in other parts of the Gulf have reduced staff, cut costs and restructured large debts.
Apart from hiring, Qatari companies have also avoided unsustainable levels of debt, and banks have been assisted by strong action from the government, which last year invested billions of dollars in banks to shield them from the global crisis. The country's resilience helped foreign investment in Qatar grow from US$3.63 billion (Dh13.33bn) in 2008 to $20.75bn last year, Kinsey Allen's research shows.
The IMF estimates that Qatar's economy grew by 11 per cent last year, and is forecasting growth of 18.5 per cent this year - the highest projected rate in the world. Other Gulf economies expect growth rates in the low single digits. A report from JPMorgan Chase showed Qatar's banks will be supported by high economic growth, government spending on infrastructure and population growth. The country's lenders were also largely unaffected by defaults last summer at a pair of large Saudi family conglomerates and exposure to Dubai World, the Government-owned group that is restructuring $26bn of debt.