It was a great pleasure to visit Qatar in mid March, on the occasion of the MultaQa Qatar
conference. Over recent months I have grown too accustomed to a London over which the grey hand of recession hangs like fog. Many friends in financial services have recently lost their jobs, although insurance is mercifully protected compared with banking (see page 15). After months of economic gloom, arriving in Doha, Qatar’s vibrant capital, was a step into the sunshine.
The people in Doha are internationally-minded and sophisticated in outlook. The business climate, though not unaffected by the world financial crisis, is resiliently buoyant. While Europe, the US and Japan are in recession, the Gulf region in general is enjoying strong, though tempered, growth. Qatar, which sits on vast natural resources wealth, is investing
heavily in the financial sector, and plans to become a regional hub for insurance. I think they will succeed (see page 6).
My visit to Qatar was all too brief. But I hazard a guess that some from the financial services sector in London, and from elsewhere in the West, may be tempted to move to the Gulf, including Qatar, on a more permanent basis.
There is a wider story here. Not only the Gulf, but also China and India are still enjoying strong growth. So the next time someone talks to you about the ‘world’ recession, or you read about the ‘global’ economic downturn, remember that the recession is not global.
Furthermore, the recession is accelerating a process that was underway long before it, as the fast growing economies of the East catch up on the West. The recession means that the balance of world economic power is shifting toward the East faster than had been predicted.