Monetary unit: Qatari riyal (QR)
Capital city: Doha
Major languages: Arabic
Major religions: Muslim c. 83%, of which Sunnl c. 73%, Shl!l c. 10%; Christian c. 10%, of which Roman Catholic c. 6%; Hindu c. 3%; Buddhist c. 2%; nonreligious c. 2%
Ethnic composition: Arab c. 40%, of which Qatari c. 20%; Indian c. 20%; Nepali c. 13%; Filipino c. 10%; Pakistani c. 7%; Sri Lankan c. 5%; U.S. c. 0.5%; other c. 4.5%
Age breakdown: under 15, 13.7%; 15–29, 31.3%; 30–44, 40.2%; 45–59, 13.1%; 60–74, 1.5%; 75 and over, 0.2%
Life expectancy: male 77.8 years; female 77.9 years
Education: Percentage of population age 15 and over hav- ing: no formal education/unknown 27.2%, of which illiterate 3.7%; primary education 21.2%; preparatory (lower secondary) 12.2%; vocational 1.6%; secondary 20.0%; postsecondary 17.8%. Literacy (2007): total population age 15 and over literate 93.1%; males literate 93.8%; females literate 90.4%
Urban/Rural split: urban 95.8%; rural 4.2%
Income per household (USD): $88,990
Broadband internet users (%): -
Source: Encyclopedia Britannica
Over the past decade Qatar has transformed almost beyond recognition. A decade ago it was a little-known peninsula bordering Saudi Arabia. Today it has the largest production of oil per person as well as the highest GDP per person of any country in the world. At the end of 2010, FIFA’s controversial announcement that it would hold its 2022 World Cup there brought the name of Qatar firmly to the world’s attention.
Huwayda A.Aziz Mohamed, acting CEO of Al-Jazeera Finance, says: “Qatar’s business sector is growing rapidly, with enterprises in finance, healthcare, education, real estate and sports management now taking their companies global. It is today attracting some of the highest rates of foreign investment anywhere in the world. As growth beyond the nation’s borders gains momentum, PR will play an increasingly important role in building a positive image of Qatar and the Middle East.”
Yet there are significant hurdles in the way of longer term development of the PR market. It might be home to renowned television station Al Jazeera, but, that aside, Qatar has a limited media sector. There is little television or radio, and there are few lifestyle or business magazines to speak of. PR experts complain that, as in so many Middle Eastern countries, there is a high degree of media censorship and an even greater reluctance within the media to question authority.
For her part, Hannah Naji, marketing director at Jaguar Land Rover MENA, bemoans the lack of credible journalists in Qatar. “As in most markets in the region, the biggest PR challenge is the lack of journalistic expertise,” she says. “Most are unqualified, and act as generalists covering anything from the automotive sector to energy, or from sports through to healthcare.”
“While local TV coverage is usually a powerful tool in PR campaigns, in Qatar, local stations have such low market penetration that this is not really the case,” says Mohamed at Al-Jazeera Finance.
“In terms of print, industry-focused publications are very scarce in Qatar, and the country urgently needs more publications in IT, the arts and sciences, technology, finance and other sectors.”
As with many of the countries in the region, the government is the main driver of the economy so many of the big communications jobs are with government organisations and projects. Other sectors investing in PR and gaining media coverage are banking, oil and gas, sports, real estate, hospitality, automotive, airlines and telecommunications.
International agency groups and the major regional players have until very recently focused their attention on the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, and many remain sceptical about the potential in Qatar. Despite its current per capita income, it remains a small market and one that may not outlast its oil and gas reserves. Furthermore, its immature media market restricts possibilities for PR.
This stuttering PR market became most visible during the Asian Games in 2008, when Qatar turned to the Dubai-based office of a large international PR agency to promote the event.