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Why is Qatar one of the richest countries in the world and how much oil does it have?

Petroleum and natural gas are the cornerstones of Qatar’s economy, but just how much do they have of each?

Petroleum and natural gas are the cornerstones of Qatar's economy, but just how much do they have of each?
Matthew Ashton - AMAGetty

A century ago in 1922, Qatar was a small Gulf country with less than 12,000 km of uninhabitable land. It had a population of 3 million with most of its residents being nomadic immigrants from the boundless deserts of the Arabian Peninsula.

Today, Qatar is one of the richest countries in the world, thanks to oil and natural gas.

Qatar’s secret

In 1939, Qatar’s first oil deposit was discovered on its west coast, and the economy began to change dramatically since then.

The growth of the oil industry created vast opportunities, and so did its rapid changes and modernization. The stream of foreign workers also increased, as more investors started flocking to Qatar.


By 1970, the population grew from less than 25,000 to over a hundred thousand, with a gross domestic product (GDP) of over $300 million. That’s when the country became an independent nation, after having been under British rule since 1916.

Qatar now holds 25 244 000 000 barrels of proven oil reserves, ranking 13th in the world.

Oil, gas, and self-sufficiency

In 1971, natural gas was discovered northeast of Qatar, and it took 14 more years and over 12 wells to locate a large unconnected natural gas field north of the field. It is reckoned to be roughly 10 percent of the world’s known natural gas reserves, and half the size of the country itself (6,000 km).

In the late 1990s, Qatar entered into production-sharing agreements with several international oil companies. The country’s partnership with Maersk Oil resulted in the world’s longest horizontal well.

Today, Qatar has the world’s third-largest proven natural gas reserve, after Russia and Iran, and is the second-largest exporter of natural gas.

Oil and natural gas account for more than 70% of total government revenue, more than 60% of gross domestic product, and roughly 85% of export earnings.

Over the years, Qatar created projects that helped boost more of its independence. The Hammadport, which has aimed to be a powerful port in the region, is an example of this. As is the daily farm that the country spent 700 million dollars on, in order to become self-sufficient in milk.

No wonder Qatar was able to spend billions of dollars to create stadiums, and avant-garde facilities with modern technology and incredible design, and host the current 2022 FIFA World Cup.


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