The numbers that prove the dire situation of Qatar’s economy

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Three months after the Gulf crisis broke out, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim decided to green-light the the largest commercial port in the country, named Hamad Port, pushing its official opening date to Monday.

Since June, political ties between Qatar and the four boycotting Arab states - Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt - have not changed much, but the maneuvering of the crisis has.

As Qatar's media machine mobilized to highlight the country’s economic strength in overcoming the crisis, many red flags have popped up.

Three major sovereign rating agencies – Fitch, Moody's and Standard & Poor's –have altered their outlook on Qatar from "stable" to "negative." Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund has issued warnings to Doha on the repercussions of the crisis in the long term.

When the first accounts of how Qatar’s economy was weathering the crisis came to light, Doha quickly denied local, regional and international reports about the impact on the country’s aviation sector in particular.

The boycotting countries have cut airspace links with Qatari carriers since the crisis erupted three months ago.


The president of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker, said that Qatar Airways has overcome the repercussions of the boycott by creating alternative routes and new destinations, in response to the high demand for travel to and via Doha. He also said that there was a continuing high demand for hotels in Qatar.

However, a report from the Qatari Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics says otherwise.

The numbers confirmed the decline or breakdown of passenger air traffic to and from Doha Airport by 32 percent at the end of June compared to May. The decline was at 18 percent when compared to figures at the same time last year.

Also, passenger arrivals decreased by 34 percent in June compared to July 2016.

The number of incoming and outgoing airplanes decreased by 22 percent in June 2017, while the rate of transit through Hamad International Airport in Doha was 100 percent in the same period last year.

The figures also reveal that hotel occupancy rates dropped by 59 percent in July.

Economic indicators

The figures also revealed that food and beverage prices rose by 4.21 percent in July compared to the same period in 2016.

Qatar's cash reserves in July fell by 13.9 percent as opposed to the same period in 2016 and by 5.7 percent annually, due to the slump in cash flow.

The volume of government deposits in the banking sector increased by 10.1 percent in July to cover the decline of private sector deposits, which fell by 7.9 percent.

The damage also extended to the Qatari stock exchange, which slipped 4.2 percent in July compared to June and 11.3 percent year-on-year.

The value of real estate sold between June and July 2017 declined by 48.4 percent, after a market recovery that did not last long between July 2016 and June 2017.

New car registrations fell by 57.6 percent year-on-year.

Selling stakes

Bloomberg news agency reported the CEO of Doha Bank as saying that the lender is negotiating with foreign banks to obtain long-term financing through a private placement or public offering, without disclosing the amount of funding required, after the Qatari bank issued initial rights of 1.3 billion riyals, earlier this year.

The Qatar Investment Authority has reduced its direct shareholding in Credit Suisse Group AG to 4.94 percent in one of the sovereign wealth fund’s rare sales of the Swiss bank’s stock.

Qatar’s overall holding declined to 15.91 percent from 17.98 percent after a rise in the number of outstanding Credit Suisse shares because of its capital increase.

Qatari companies have also began selling their stakes in major international fields. Such as the Qatar Luxury Group selling off its 85-percent stake in French company le Tanneur, the leading bag manufacturer.

The Qatari royal family has also sold its stake in European bank - Banque Internationale a Luxembourg (BIL) - to Chinese investors

Last week, China’s Legend Holdings struck a deal to buy a 90 percent stake in BIL for 1.48 billion euros ($1.76 billion) in the biggest takeover of a European deposit-taking bank by a Chinese firm so far.