The oil price has dropped. Everyone is saying it, the papers print it, the news reports it, but what exactly does it mean to you and me.
For me, living in Qatar, the country that has the highest ratio of oil per person in the universe, the drop in oil prices is of weighty significance. Qatar is the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas in the world, and the country’s exports of LNG, crude oil, and petroleum products provide a significant portion of government revenues. Like many of its neighbors, Qatar relies on its energy sector to support its economy. The drop in the energy sector in Qatar, results in a significant slowdown in the construction and other industries. Since the prices of oil has dropped below 28c a barrel, it’s generally sounded that we are facing another global recession. Subsidies that the Qatar government were providing on petrol, water and electricity prices are now lifted and the cost of these has risen by 30% since last week.
For those at home, the chance to immigrate to the Middle East has become slimmer, maybe those recruited and expecting to travel soon have been told to stay put because their position is cancelled but not to worry, the cost of home heating oil has gotten a little cheaper.
Like rats from a sinking ship we left Ireland the minute boom turned to bust and headed straight for the softest landing possible, the Middle East, Qatar to be precise. Where cash is king, work is plenty and opportunity is commonplace. We were spoiled from the glory days in Ireland when at 26 we were flipping apartments for semi-detached houses and obtaining mammoth mortgages on marketing salaries. (Yes, back in the good old days when marketing was considered a proper career). By the time we reached 30 we were bored with Woodbury Common and we just prepared to go straight to source in Hong Kong when the rug was pulled and we were send back to basics in dusty Doha to pick the low hanging fruit.
But now that the economy in Qatar is taking a serious hit due to the oil prices, here we are again facing recession in another country, is it me? Am I a jinx? Should my passport number be shared and recognised in international airports across the world where I would be banned from entering because I would surely sink their buoyant economy within five years?
Across all sectors friends and friends of friends are being made redundant every day. Job cuts, cut backs, budget cut-offs, finance cuts are all shortcuts to one destination, recession. Massive infrastructure developments, arenas, stadium’s (I can’t spell the correct plural) many are put on the hold until the price of the barrel rises. Of course Qatar aren’t shouting this too loudly lest 2022 be in danger but the proof is there, where there was once 30 tower cranes on a site, it is now down to 12.
This year alone there is a 15/20% drop in the value of construction in Qatar, the drop is from $165billion to $140 billion. Incidentally this drop is six times the value of new project construction for 2016 in Ireland which has been reported by the building index to be in the region of Eu.4 billion.
So here is the thing, would you rather suffer recession in Qatar with a 30% hike in your petrol, bringing the cost to fill the tank of your 4×4 with petrol to around twenty euro, or recession in Ireland where the cost to fill your mothers Toyota Yaris is eighty five euro?
Would you feel safer being part of a (reportedly) growing Eu 4 billion construction economy in Ireland or a (reportedly) declining $165billion construction economy in Qatar?
Would be rather be living in a desert that has established and controlled water prices and supply or a country that reports, flooding, shortage and varying water charges all in equal measure?
You’ve guessed it, for all those that are kept they are happy to stay because a slice of a large cake is a lot more certain than a bite of cupcake. And while the future is uncertain for all expats here in Qatar it is still a lot more certain than the future in Ireland.