Monday, November 03, 2014

Population Growth in Qatar

Whenever you read the news in Qatar there is always some article about the problems with traffic, or the problems finding places for kids in schools, the increasing rents, the lack of parking . . .etc

There was an article today in The Peninsula newspaper which nicely summed up the reason behind all the problems.

Here’s the relevant points:

More than 170,000 people, most of them freshly-recruited workers, have entered the country this year, taking the population to an all-time high of 2.21 million.

Qatar’s population has nearly trebled in the last 10 years. In 2004, it was merely 744,000.

Digest that for a second. The population has nearly tripled in 10 years. 10 years!

I've said before that I always felt a bit sorry for whoever was the Minister of Urban Planning because he had a nearly impossible job. How can you manage to build roads, construction and infrastructure to keep up with the population tripling in 10 years? Pretty much impossible, just a game of catch-up the whole time. As soon as a new road is built it’s filled to capacity within a year. A new school has a waitlist by the next term. New apartment buildings open yet the vacancy rate continues to decrease. Everyone complains that there’s construction everywhere yet there has to be just to try to keep the city from gridlocking completely. What to do?

If you went to the mayor of a city in Europe or North America with a population of 750,000 and told them that the population of the city would tripling 10 years so they better plan accordingly, they would look at you like you were insane.

Unfortunately the problems seems set to continue, the population is expected to grow by about 15% a year for the next two years at least. Maybe after that things will stabilize a bit since all of the 2022 World Cup projects will have been started so won't need to bring in more people. Just means at least 2 years of traffic and high rents.

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