Qatar’s population has grown by more than 700,000 people in the past five years, the government said while announcing mini census data today.
The 40 percent growth equates to an average annual growth rate of 7.2 percent, officials from the Ministry of Development, Planning and Statistics (MDPS) said as they shared the figures to mark World Statistics Day.
But as many construction projects near completion, the nation’s total population could peak in the first half of 2017 before starting to decline, one ministry official said.
Governments usually conduct a census every 10 years and Qatar’s last main one was in 2010. However, partly as a result of the state’s population explosion in recent years, officials announced last year they would undertake an interim count during the first half of this year in order to update their figures.
In addition to using existing data from Qatar’s other ministries, MPDS representatives undertook house-to-house surveys throughout the country earlier this year.
The new statistics should help ministries refine their planning for key services such as transportion, infrastructure, health and education into 2030 and beyond.
Launching the new figures, Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al-Thani said: “We look forward to continuing our march to build an active statistical system that meets the national and international aspirations.”
Overall, Qatar’s population has increased from nearly 1.7 million people in 2010 to just over 2.4 million in 2015, Nasser Saleh Al Mahdi, Director of Census at the MDPS, said in a presentation with MDPS’s Dr. Saleh Al-Nabit earlier today.
Men continue to comprise the vast majority of the population. Their numbers have risen from 1.28 million to 1.81 million over the past five years, reflecting the growing demand for blue-collar workers particularly in Qatar’s construction industry.
The number of women in the the country has also increased at around the same rate as the men, at 7.2 percent growth each year. There are now more than 587,000 women living in Qatar, and the ratio of men to women has remained stable at around 3:1.
Al Mahdi told Doha News that the new figures were broadly in line with the ministry’s expectations, based on the results of their monthly population statistics.
However, he forecast that the overall population growth rate would soon begin to slow, adding, “there will be an increase at least for the next year, but it will not be so fast.”
In preparation for hosting the World Cup in 2022, and also as part of the 2030 National Vision, Qatar has embarked on numerous, ambitious infrastructure projects which has significantly driven its population rise in recent years.
And while not quite at the same pace of growth in the six years from 2006-12, when the population doubled, it is still well ahead of the 2 percent annual growth rate on which the 2011-16 National Development Strategy was based.
The year 2013 appears to have been one of the busiest in terms of newcomers to the country, as population expansion then stood at 11.4 percent.
Although the first five months of this year still saw annualized growth rate reaching double figures, of up to 10.3 percent, people appear to be moving to the state at a slower pace.
And with the current count of 2.34 million people in the state for September, it looks like QNB will be broadly on target with its forecast from last fall that Qatar’s population would grow by around 7.4 percent annually, reaching around 2.5 million by 2016.
A ministry official told Doha News that the new mini-census figures will be used in the coming months to revise the state’s official population projection up to at least 2030.
And he said that the indicators were that the total population is expected to peak in the next 18 months, before starting to drop overall.
This is partly due to the falling oil price which has caused the energy sector to lay off staff, which will also have a trickle-down effect to other parts of the state as ministries across the board tighten their belts.
The recent prioritization of infrastructure projects will also play a role in what is expected to be a declining number of workers coming to the state starting in the first half of 2017.
Frank Harrigan, Director of Environment and Economic Planning at the MDPS, told Doha News:
“We are probably approaching a population peak in the next 18 months or so, then we can see it starting to go down. You can already identify a slight slowing, with the oil and gas issue affecting other sectors. As construction projects are completed, the population will taper off.
Of course, you will have people coming in to service the World Cup, but this is a one-off event. We need to examine what is a sustainable community for Qatar after that. It is likely to be less than the population we see today,” he added.
Outside the capital
While the municipality of Doha has seen substantial growth, with its population up 20 percent over the five years, the boom has also had an effect on communities outside the capital.
For example, the number of people living in Shahaniyah, to the west of Doha, has risen by nearly 200 percent, mostly due to new labor camps being built in the town, while Al Wakrah’s population is just short of 300,000 people now.
The recent construction of new amenities such as hospitals, schools, housing compounds and shops out of Doha has been one way the government has attempted to encourage more people to live outside the capital and to relieve the pressure on Doha’s creaking infrastructure.
However, it appears that the construction of new houses is not keeping pace with demand from the rising population, at least in the center of town.
According to the census figures, Doha had 313,881 housing units in 2015 compared to 259,066 in 2010. This shows an annual increase of around 3.9 percent.
Al Rayyan municipality has the largest proportion of buildings in the state, with most of its 69,000 low-level. While Doha has fewer individual structures, they are generally tower blocks that accommodate more people.