Qatar’s population surpasses 1.9 million – three years ahead of schedule

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Qatar’s population passed 1.9 million at the end of last month, a number it wasn’t expected to reach even by 2016, according to National Development Strategy estimates.

A total of 1,903,447 people were inside of Qatar on Jan. 31, new Qatar Statistics Authority figures show. That’s an all-time high, surpassing the 1.85 million record set in November 2012.

Women now account for nearly half a million people, still about a quarter of all residents. But the bulk of the population continues to be low-income workers, imported to Qatar to fuel billions of dollars in mega projects ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

According to the QNDS, however, Qatar’s population boom was not supposed to proceed at such a rapid pace this decade:

Modest increases in population will accompany the expected economic expansion. The total population of Qatar is expected to grow steadily at an average of about 2.1% a year during 2011–2016, with the total population rising from 1.64 million at the end of 2010 to just less than 1.9 million in 2016. The rapid population growth of the recent past is not expected to continue.

But instead of growing at 2 percent, the population saw a 7.6 percent increase – from 1.7 million at the end of 2011 to 1.84 million at the end of 2012.

Straining to cope

The unanticipated growth will continue to strain Qatar’s infrastructure and impact the rising cost of living, particularly in the area of residential rents, a Doha-based economic analyst told Doha News.

The population boom also shows no sign of slowing down, as contracts for at least one major project, Qatar’s railway, have yet to be awarded, he added.

Acknowledging the strain the increasing population has put on “hospitals, schools, roads and infrastructure,” Qatar’s Emir last year pledged huge increases in health and education investment over the next three years, adding:

“It is not possible to build Qatar society, economy and institutions without this population growth, which include expertise, jobs, workers, services etc. This is normal. While it was difficult to develop services in the same pace of the exceptional population increase, we have done a lot. However, the quality of services must be raised and its range extended.”

So, it looks like it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

Thoughts?

Credit: Photo of Industrial Area by Omar Chatriwala

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