Saturday, March 07, 2015
Population Growth in Qatar
In February Qatar's population grew by 109,000 to 2.33 million. Over 100,000 people in one month. That's 4.5% growth in population in a MONTH!
The drop in oil and gas prices has not caused a huge slowdown in Qatar. While a few projects have been canceled or put on hold, such as that big QP/Shell project or the bridge over Doha Bay, the truth is that most of the projects have to be finished for the 2022 World Cup: the Metro, the airport expansion, Lusail city, the stadiums, the infrastructure improvements, all of this still needs to be finished regardless of what the oil price is. The Qatar Government might see a deficit in 2015, which would the first time Qatar has run a deficit for over a decade. Things have got to get built.
And the population growth slows no signs of slowing down. The Bangladeshi ambassador has mentioned that around 50,000 Bangladeshis will likely be arriving in Qatar in the next three months. The Philippine ambassador has mentioned plans for 90,000 new arrivals from his country. That's 140,000 right there, not including new workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, and other nearby countries.
Naturally this continues to put pressure on housing, causing rental rates to rocket. The rent on my apartment went up 15% this year, and some people are seeing rent increases of 30% or more. I don't see this trend changing in the next few years. Construction is everywhere and tons of new apartment buildings are going up but I'm not sure it will be able to keep pace with demand. Yes, I know a lot of the people arriving are construction workers and other low-income workers who will probably be housed in corporate-provided housing, but if even 5% of the new arrivals are people from other sectors looking for apartments, that is 7000 people from the Philippines and Bangladesh alone looking for housing. That's a lot of apartments and villas.
Naturally traffic will just get worse. There's a lot of road upgrades going on to try to alleviate the problem but I think it's just trying to catch up with the growth. Once the road is expanded or improved the population growth is such that tons of extra cars are using the road so you right back to the same congestion. The Minister of Urban Planning must be having a real problem trying to keep up with it all, I don't envy him. It doesn't stop people complaining about the traffic and there's always news reports about the traffic problems, something I don't see getting any better until the Metro is finished.
I just try to focus on the positives and then roll with it. Lots of things have been completed in the last eight years, Doha looks nothing like it did when I arrived in 2006, and I know that while there's tons of construction now there's plenty more great things to come.