Qatar: Taking Flight?

It is one of the world’s most valuable brands—winning “World’s Best Airline” multiple times, recognized as “the only airline to fly continuously throughout the pandemic.2021’s “Airline of the Year”— Qatar Airways.

The standard-bearer has one of the most innovative onboard services as well as the youngest fleets in the industry, the first operator to bag the prestigious 5-Star COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating from Skytrax.

If Qatar Airways were a student, she’d be stringing A’s, captain the volleyball varsity, and serve as president of the student government. She can act, sing and dance too! 

Will Qatar, the country which bred this unicorn of sorts, have the same high-flying record as its flag carrier, or will the pandemic prove too much for this Middle Eastern economy?   

Let’s look at some clues.  

Not Their First Rodeo

Covid is no friend of any country, Qatar included.  

The pandemic might be unmatched when it comes to the economic and social turmoil caused to nations around the globe, but Qatar has undergone economic and political crises that few other countries have experienced.

In June of 2017, Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Bahrain and Egypt imposed an economic embargo on Qatar, withdrawing diplomatic personnel and closing down their land, sea and air borders. Trade of goods was suspended and threats of expelling Qatari nationals from these gulf states were made.

Saudi Arabia and the other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council accused Qatar of funding terrorist activities and interfering with the domestic policies of other gulf states. They demanded the closure of Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based, English-language news network.

Altogether, the four gulf states compiled a list of 13 demands for Qatar. If their calls remain unheeded, then they would embark on an embargo of the country.

Qatari leadership was in no mood to acquiesce to the demands. So then followed three and a half years of the economic embargo on the small nation.

It was only recently, January of this year, that diplomatic ties were restored with these four nations—not because the demands were met, but because the policy didn’t work. The other nations were unable to extract meaningful concessions from Qatar, 

Qatar was simply chugging nicely along.

Qatar has even come out stronger. In the face of pressure from neighbouring states, the country remained politically steadfast and economically sound.

If there be any doubt on the country’s ability to weather any turbulence, let the recent economic embargo be a guide.

Burgeoning Start-up Ecosystem

Qatar is a small country blessed with both oil and natural gas. It is counted among the giants, Russia and the United States, as one of the world’s largest exporters of liquefied natural gas (LNG). 

When Qatar was hailed as “The Fastest Growing Economy in the World” in the 2010s, it was on the back of increasing demand for oil and gas. Energy financed the country’s development.

But the growing clamour among countries in the Middle East today is for an economy with multiple income streams.

Qatari leadership is providing funds for a wide range of start-ups. Local agri-business, for example, is a sector that has been encouraged. The experience mentioned in the previous section opened the eyes of the government to the need for food self-sufficiency. (At the time of the blockade, 90% of the nation’s food supply was imported.)

Having Qatar’s needs met locally means not having to depend on the Strait of Hormuz too much. The Strait of Hormuz is that nation’s only maritime access, which means any instability in the region could cut off Qatar from much-needed supplies—not to mention the pinch on their oil and gas exports.

Technology-related start-ups have also been given a boost. The Harvard Business Review article, “How Qatar Is Building Its Own Version of Silicon Valley” chronicled how the Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP), a hub of innovation and collaboration among international tech companies and local start-ups, empowers and mentors the nation’s entrepreneurs.

QSTP is the nation’s first free-trade zone and has been endowed by the Qatar Foundation with $800 million.

It’s a space where start-ups can both develop and commercialize their ideas. Qatari entrepreneurs will have access to expertise from prestigious institutions and individuals that have been invited to co-locate in Qatar.   

Low Unemployment & High Pay

Qatar has some of the lowest unemployment numbers in 2020.  The reported number go as low as 0.1%.

This makes Qatar score better than economic powerhouses like Japan (2.3%), Germany (3%) and the United States (3.9). 

The country’s low unemployment rate is demographic in nature. It’s largely comprised of migrant workers. In a population of only 3 million, almost 90% of it are migrant workers from India, Bangladesh and Nepal drawn to the energy and construction sectors.   

This means that almost 90% of the population already have jobs. The rest, native Qataris, have been mostly employed in the government service, private sector and local industries.

Qatar is classified by the World Bank as a high-income economy and has some of the highest GDP per capita in the world.

Like others in the region, Qatar is a rich country because of oil. It was one of the poorest states in the world when oil was discovered and extracted in the 1930s and the 1940s. By the 1970s, Qatar has become one of the richest.

For a business startup, this means you’re not only pressed for choice from a limited pool of available workers, but you also need to fork over higher salaries for your employees.

This is not an ideal situation for a country looking to diversify its economy and nurture local enterprises.  

Problem? Innovate!

Just as Qatar Airways was able to surf the waves of the pandemic, being the only airline to fly continuously throughout the global crisis, just as the country came out even stronger after years of economic blockade from neighbouring states, Qatar has risen to the occasion.

Confronted by high employment numbers on one side and high wages on the other, the nation’s startups are adapting to the situation through Remote Staffing.

Remote Staffing is hiring professionals from other countries to work for local businesses. But unlike migrant workers who physically settle in Qatar, remote workers remain in their respective home countries.  

Qatar has managed a possibly difficult situation by utilizing available technology, migrating functions and services online. With today’s tech, and as proven by the pandemic, business-related functions like marketing, customer service, accounting and lead generation can all be done exclusively online. And, it seems, everybody is going online. 

According to Heba Al Masri, managing director for a leading startup accelerator funded by the Qatar Development Bank (QDB):

Now people see that they are vulnerable without technology. They are vulnerable if they are not online, or if they don’t have a platform that people can access from their homes. People realized that technology is the only aspect that can bridge their business with the outside world. And that was a big realization locally and globally…

Kinetic Innovative Staffing (KIS) has been helping small and medium companies relocate virtually. As businesses migrate their core functions online, they need bright and tech-savvy individuals to help grow the company in that space. From sales and marketing to accounting, web development and software programming, KIS helps you hire the right professionals…at the fraction of the cost.

Remote Staffing is the future of work. Through innovative hiring practices, Qatar has once again bucked the trend. And just like its flag carrier, Qatar Airways, the country is set to soar to even greater heights.


Kinetic Innovative Staffing has been providing hundreds of companies in the Asia Pacific, North America, the Middle East, and Europe with professionals working remotely from the Philippines since 2013. Get in touch to know more.

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