Petroleum is the cornerstone of Qatar's economy and accounts for more than 70% of total government revenue, more than 60% of gross domestic product, and roughly 85% of export earnings. Proved oil reserves of 15 billion barrels (588,000,000 m³) should ensure continued output at current levels for 23 years. Oil has given Qatar a per capita GDP that ranks among the highest in the world. Qatar's proved reserves of natural gas exceed 7000 km³, more than 5% of the world total, third largest in the world. Production and export of natural gas are becoming increasingly important. Long-term goals feature the development of off-shore petroleum and the diversification of the economy.
Qatar is now the richest country in the Muslim world. Current GDP per capita registered a world record-breaking peak growth of 1,156% in the Seventies. This became quickly unsustainable and Qatar's current GDP per capita contracted 53% in the Eighties. But rising global oil demand helped current GDP per capita to expand 94% in the Nineties. Diversification is still a long-term issue for this over-exposed economy.
This is a chart of trend of gross domestic product of Qatar at market prices estimated by the International Monetary Fund with figures in millions of Qatari Rials.
For purchasing power parity comparisons, the US Dollar is exchanged at 5.82 Qatari Rials only. Mean wages were $59.99 per manhour in 2009.
In 1973, oil production and revenues increased dramatically, moving Qatar out of the ranks of the world's poorest countries and providing it with one of the highest per capita incomes in the world.
Qatar's economy was in a downturn from 1982 to 1989. OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) quotas on crude oil production, the lower price for oil, and the generally unpromising outlook on international markets reduced oil earnings. In turn, the Qatari government's spending plans had to be cut to match lower income. The resulting recessionary local business climate caused many firms to lay off expatriate staff. With the economy recovering in the 1990s, expatriate populations, particularly from Egypt and South Asia, have grown again.
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