The Banker awarded Qatar’s minister of finance with the ‘Middle Eastern Finance Minister of the Year’ 2020 award.
Qatar’s Minister of Finance Ali Shareef Al Emadi was named as 2020’s best minister in the region by The Banker, an international financial magazine that organises an annual celebration of finance ministers.
The award is based on which ministers manage to stimulate growth and stabilise the country’s economy on a regional level.
Al Emadi has served as Qatar’s minister of finance since June 2013.
He was nominated for his efforts in managing Qatar’s finances through one of the country’s most challenging years amid coronavirus pandemic and a months-long national lockdown.
For Qatar, 2020 has been particularly challenging and the pandemic fell as Doha endured an ongoing illegal blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain.
In addition to the economic boycott, the state had to abide by precautionary measures to ensure the safety of its people through restricting local businesses, shutting down companies, and closing trading markets.
As a major oil-exporting state in the Middle East, this led to a drastic decline in global demand for oil and gas, prompting energy prices to decrease.
Despite this, Qatar managed to withstand the economic storm largely thanks to its ongoing self-sufficiency plans and significant financial and hydrocarbon reserves.
“The International Monetary Fund forecasts a 4.5% drop in gross domestic product for Qatar in 2020, yet this compares favourably to a 6% drop predicted for Middle Eastern exporters as a whole. The economy is set to rebound by 2.5% in 2021, according to the fund, second only to Saudi Arabia in the region,” The Banker stated in press release.
While the country is expected to post a budget deficit for the first time since 2017, the figure is likely to be in the single digits, with only Abu Dhabi of the UAE managing similar feat, according to Fitch Ratings.
“Under Mr Al Emadi’s stewardship, the finance ministry has continued to press forward in encouraging public sector institutions to increase the financial sustainability of public services, with other initiatives including a medium-term strategy for debt, and projects including providing financial data readiness according to the requirements of the second stage of the international SDDS standard,” the press release said.
“The coming year may also see the long-awaited introduction of VAT, in line with its Gulf Co-operation Council neighbours,” it added.
The news came just days ahead of the 41st GCC summit expected to be held in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.
The meeting between Gulf leaders is anticipated to announce a resolve to the GCC crisis and could see an end to the blockade on Qatar. This is expected to further improve Doha’s economy in 2021 restrictions lift.