By Jared Cummans of ETF Database
On the western coast of the Persian Gulf, one tiny country has earned a slew of distinctions that would surprise most U.S. investors. Qatar -- which on a map looks like a tiny thumb sticking into the Persian Gulf -- is among the fastest-growing economies in the world.
Though tiny in population, the country's economic power is soaring, with the Qatari government supported through revenue from massive deposits of crude oil and natural gas and a subsequently massive energy industry; oil and gas make up roughly half of the country's GDP -- according to the CIA factbook, the second-highest per capita in the world, behind only Lichtenstein -- 85% of their exports and 70% of total government revenue. (That means citizens don't pay any income taxes.)
And by some estimates, Qatar's economy is set to grow at close to 15% this year, blowing away near-zero expansion expected in much of the developed world and besting even the surging Chinese economy. Again, much of that growth is fueled by expansion in the natural resource industry; liquid natural gas output is set to increase to 77 million tons from 40.Qatar's economic boom hasn't always been a sure thing. "When the small, sparsely populated Arab peninsula discovered a gargantuan natural gas field off its northern shores in the late 1990s, Qatar was almost bankrupt due to depressed oil prices," Robin Wigglesworth writes. "However, the Emir H.H. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani made a calculated bet and borrowed heavily from banks and capital markets to build the world's largest liquefied natural gas industry." Investing In Qatar With ETFs: An investment in such a concentrated economy obviously carries some risks. The significant wealth and lavish lifestyles of many citizens of Qatar has allowed non-energy sectors of the economy to develop rapidly, but oil and gas will be the major economic driver for the foreseeable future. While there's no pure play ETF offering exposure to Qatar, there are a few that maintain exposure to the Middle East natural gas powerhouse: