A historic vote in the UK to exit the European Union has prompted a flurry of reactions in Qatar, including disbelief and despair, but also joy and cautious optimism.
So far, the uncertainty caused by the Brexit referendum results (52% voted to leave, while 48% voted to stay) has spurred a dramatic slide in the value of sterling, and caused financial markets around the world to tumble.
It’s also caused a leadership shakeup, with Prime Minister David Cameron, who campaigned for the UK to stay in the EU, announcing his plans to resign.
While those who voted to leave are celebrating, people in the remain camp have criticized the decision, fearing it will damage the UK’s economy.
Though an actual Brexit would take at least two years, the vote already has far-reaching implications for residents abroad, including those living in Qatar.
Additionally, those with investments in the UK will be watching closely to see what happens.
An estimated 25,000 British people live in Qatar. Many of these expats voted in the EU referendum, and they have been sharing their feelings about the result on Twitter today.
Some, like Graham Davis and Adam Kynnersley, were unhappy about the vote, but pointed out that as expats, the slump in sterling gives them more purchasing power back home:
on the plus side our remittances have gone up 11%. The downside is that… How many characters do I have remaining?
— Adam K (@Akynners) June 24, 2016
Others noted there was a huge disparity in how old and young people voted in the referendum.
Some 64 percent of voters aged 18-24 years old wanted to remain, while only 33 percent of those aged 65 years and over voted that way.
Meanwhile, leave supporters like Pip said they were pleased with the decision:
as a Brit living here but with the intention of going home one day, am very happy but actually surprised at the result.
— Pip in Doha (@ExpatPip) June 24, 2016
Qatar residents react
Qatar has strong ties to the UK, and many residents here of all nationalities have been sharing their thoughts on the vote.
Because the value of the pound plummeted overnight, £1 is now equal to QR5 – prompting some to remark that it’s time to go shopping in London, for both goods and real estate:
Meanwhile, Australian expat Rachel Morris said she was in shock:
Woke up and turned on TV thought I was still in midst of a bad dream. Nope #brexit pic.twitter.com/IdSYbA6qHU
— Rachel Morris (@rachelannmorris) June 24, 2016
And for his part, French expat Mazen Abd Rabbo said he felt the UK would come to rue its decision.
Bye bye #UK from #UE – you will regret it soon. Together we are stronger. #Brexit wins and then leave. Leave yes. Leave uncertain. 😔
— Mazen Abd Rabbo (@MAbdRabbo) June 24, 2016
Impact on Qatar
At this stage, it is difficult to know how Britain’s exit from the EU will play out in the long term.
In Qatar, the vote could affect aviation deals, diplomacy, trade issues and investments in the UK.
In recent years, Qatar has been buying up UK real estate and companies such as luxury retailer Harrods and the supermarket chain Sainsbury’s.
Thus, the UK’s economy post-Brexit will significantly affect the Gulf country’s portfolio, for better or for worse.
For his part, Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, says that the UK has “extensive contingency plans” in place, and that its financial system is “well-capitalised, liquid and strong.”
What is certain for now however is that sterling is weak, and this will have an immediate effect on Qatar residents:
- It will now be cheaper to spend a holiday in the UK, as the exchange rate is favorable;
- UK expats who are paid in riyals have more purchasing power, and the same can be said for anyone wishing to buy UK assets; and
- The stock market slide is bad news for anyone who holds shares –including pensions – in the UK.
How do you feel about the vote? Thoughts?