Qatar is home (albeit mostly a temporary one) to numerous people from around the world, who comprise the vast majority of its population, with Qataris being a minority for decades now. As the exact breakdown by nationality is not something that is made publicly available by Qatar’s Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics (MDPS), I have embarked on collating as much data as possible on the subject, in order to shine a light on a matter of common interest.

I started this project back in 2013 when I gathered population data on 55 different nationalities living in Qatar, continued in 2014 when the data was extended to 63 nationalities and now the 2017 report has grown even broader in scope, containing population numbers for 87 different nationalities living in Qatar. This makes it by far the most comprehensive publicly available report on this topic (for similar custom reports that our Consultancy offers please contact us directly), however it is important to note that if a nationality is not listed it merely means the data was unavailable and not that the citizens of a missing country are not present in Qatar. More information on data collection and sources can be found at the end of this article.

My aim was to present the freshest possible information and thus 65% of the data on the population of individual nationalities is at most one year old, with around 90% of data being no older than two years. The population of Afghan nationals is the oldest included – from November 2012.

The list of nationalities

Nationality Population Percent of total* Data recency
India 650,000 25.00% Dec 2016
Nepal >350,000 13.50% Jan 2017
Qatar 313,000 12.10% Jun 2016
Bangladesh 280,000 10.80% May 2016
Philippines 260,000 10.00% Jan 2017
Egypt 200,000 8.60% Feb 2015
Sri Lanka 145,256 5.60% Dec 2016
Pakistan 125,000 4.80% Oct 2016
Syria 54,000 2.20% Nov 2015
Sudan 50,000 2.10% Apr 2015
Indonesia 43,000 1.70% Sep 2016
Jordan 40,000 1.80% Dec 2014
Iran 30,000 1.50% Dec 2013
UK 25,000 1.10% Apr 2015
Lebanon 24,000 0.92% Jan 2017
Ethiopia 22,000 0.91% Jan 2016
Palestine 20,000 0.85% Jun 2015
Tunisia 20,000 0.77% May 2016
Kenya 14,000 0.55% Aug 2016
USA** >11,000 >0.43% Mar 2015
China >10,000 >0.41% Jan 2016
Eritrea 10,000 >0.41% Aug 2016
Canada 9,000 0.35% Feb 2017
Iraq 8,976 0.40% Dec 2014
Turkey 8,000 0.31% Oct 2016
Nigeria 7,500 0.29% Oct 2016
South Africa 6,000 0.23% May 2016
Australia 5,500 0.21% Nov 2016
Algeria 5,000 0.20% Mar 2016
France 5,000 0.20% Apr 2016
Ghana 5,000 0.21% Jan 2015
Malaysia 4,848 0.19% Feb 2016
Thailand 4,500 0.18% Mar 2016
Afghanistan 3,500 – 4,000 ~0.2% Nov 2012
Spain 3,500 0.14% Jan 2017
Uganda 3,000 0.11% Nov 2016
Romania 2,500 0.10% Apr 2015
Greece 2,200 <0.10% May 2016
Italy 2,100 <0.10% Nov 2016
Germany 2,000 <0.10% Jan 2017
Ireland 2,000 <0.10% May 2015
Russia 2,000 <0.10% Mar 2016
South Korea 2,000 <0.10% Dec 2015
Vietnam 2,000 <0.10% Feb 2016
Serbia 2,000 <0.10% Feb 2017
Portugal 1,500 <0.10% Mar 2016
Brazil 1,500 <0.10% Jul 2016
Netherlands 1,432 <0.10% Mar 2016
Albania 1,200 <0.10% Jan 2017
Macedonia 1,000 <0.10% Dec 2013
Ukraine 1,000 <0.10% Nov 2016
New Zealand 989 <0.10% Feb 2017
Japan 944 <0.10% Jan 2017
Denmark 900 <0.10% Feb 2017
Poland 700 – 800 <0.10% Feb 2017
Belgium 600 <0.10% Jan 2017
Cuba 600 <0.10% May 2016
Sweden 527 <0.10% Feb 2017
Bulgaria 500 <0.10% Jan 2017
Croatia 500 <0.10% Nov 2016
Austria 500 <0.10% Nov 2016
Argentina 400 <0.10% Jan 2017
Mexico 400 <0.10% Oct 2015
Venezuela 337 <0.10% Dec 2014
Kyrgyzstan 330 <0.10% Feb 2017
Hungary 300 <0.10% Jan 2017
Singapore 300 <0.10% Dec 2014
Switzerland 250 <0.10% Dec 2014
Senegal a few hundred <0.10% Mar 2016
Belarus 200 <0.10% Jan 2017
Finland 200 <0.10% Jan 2017
Kazakhstan 200 <0.10% Aug 2015
Colombia 200 <0.10% Feb 2017
Norway 160 <0.10% 2015
Moldova 154 <0.10% Jan 2017
Gambia 135 <0.10% Dec 2013
Azerbaijan 120 <0.10% Dec 2014
Ecuador 100 <0.10% Dec 2014
El Salvador 100 <0.10% Dec 2014
Slovakia 100 <0.10% Jan 2017
Czech Republic 100 <0.10% Feb 2017
Benin 82 <0.10% Dec 2014
Dominican Republic 44 <0.10% Dec 2014
Liberia 40 <0.10% Dec 2013
Brunei 20 <0.10% Dec 2013
Latvia 10 <0.10% Jan 2017
Liechentstein 1 <0.10% Jan 2015
*Percentages correspond to the total population of Qatar at the time the data is derived from.
**Only Military personnel. Data for overall US population in Qatar not available.

Trends in Qatar’s expat populations

While Qatar’s population as a whole continues to expand at an incredibly fast rate, there are differences in just how much individual communities are growing. One of the biggest changes that occurred from 2013 when I first assembled this report, can be found in the Bangladeshi community, which went from 137,000 in 2013 to 280,000 as of early 2016 – a whooping 104% increase. In general most nationalities have witnessed an increase, but there are a few of those whose numbers have gone down or are somewhat stagnant: Nepal, Lebanon, Malaysia, Palestine, Russia, South Korea, Croatia and Hungary.

Focusing on the smaller nationalities in Qatar, some of the biggest increases between 2013 and 2016 were seen in the following communities: Kenyans (from 5,000 to 14,000), Canadians (from 3,500 to 8,000), South Africans (from 3,000 to 6,000), Thais (2,700 to 4,500), Romanians (1,000 to 2,500), Greeks (1,000 to 2,200) and Italians (900 to 2,100).

Which nationalities are expected to considerably grow in the future?

The only real indication of what the future might hold are the labour agreements which Qatar is signing with select countries. Besides the obviously fast growing Bangladeshi community, a number of other nations have signed agreements with Qatar.

Some of the recent developments have seen drafts on a proposed agreement with Uganda to bring up to 40,000 Ugandans to Qatar. A new manpower agreement with Indonesia envisions a further 24,000 nationals of that country heading for Qatar, expandable to a maximum of 70,000.

Further on, the Pakistani Government seems to be making efforts in trying to get Qatar to allocate more quotas for its nationals, claiming it is training 200,000 people to work in Qatar. Reports have also surfaced of manpower agreements with Cambodia, from where at least 33,000 workers are supposed to be recruited in the future. Rumours of recruiting 50,000 Moroccan workers also surfaced last year.

It’s worth noting that not all of these negotiations always end up in concrete agreements.

Indians in Qatar

Indians constitute by far the biggest single nationality in Qatar, numbering at around 650,000 at the end of 2016. The community witnessed a massive increase between 2004 and 2008 when it jumped from 170,000 to around 400,000. While the growth has slowed down since then, it is still formidable and Indians are most likely to stay the biggest national group in the country for the foreseeable future.

Traditionally Kerala was sending the most people to Qatar, however according to the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, Uttar Pradesh has taken that title away since at least 2011. This seems to be part of the general trend in which the northern states are emerging as the leading areas of Indian emigration to Qatar. Between 2011 and 2014 the main sending states of Indian labour to Qatar were as follows in decreasing order: Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

This shift has been occurring across the Gulf, but somewhat varies in its prominence from country to country – Kuwait for example still receives noticeably more Indian nationals from the Southern States, especially Andhra Pradesh.

Nepalis in Qatar

According to the latest available data that can be attributed to an official source, there are around 350,000 Nepalis in Qatar, who mostly work as unskilled labourers. Perhaps no other community gets as much attention in the international media, with the world’s eyes set on Qatar’s 2022 World Cup. Due to Qatar’s restrictive laws, poor financial compensation of Nepali workers and damning reports of various human and labour rights’ organizations, the vast majority of international coverage is negative. The recent amendments to the Kafala system have also been criticized as barely scratching the surface.

However, some media reports by foreign press should be looked upon with a dose of skepticism. One of the most obvious cases was how reporting was done on the number of Nepalis that die in Qatar every year, stemming mainly from an ITUC report, but not limited to it. Often media outlets carry damning headlines like the infamous Washington Post’s graphic, which claimed hundreds of workers have died building Qatar’s stadiums, while only one worker died in the construction of London’s Olympic Games venues.

There is more than enough meat on the bone to chew; working conditions, financial compensation and personal freedom of Nepali and indeed many other workers in Qatar offer a lot of room for legitimate criticism. Implying that every single death that occurs in Qatar is somehow directly to be pinned on the Authorities and the building of stadiums is however simply misleading and unnecessarily diminishes the moral authority of both the media, as well as the labour and human rights organizations that are trying to highlight and improve the living conditions of often overlooked parts of Qatar’s society.

For people living in Qatar the situation is obvious if they bother to notice it, as Vani Saraswathi, Associate Editor of Migrant-Rights.org rightly pointed out in a recent guest post on Doha News: “But if you live in Qatar, you do not need the “Western media” to reveal injustices. It’s in our face, day in and day out.”

Qatari citizens

According to our estimates which are based on official Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics (MDPS) data sets, there were around 313,000 Qatari nationals in the middle of 2016 (more information on the methodology can be found at the end of this article). This means Qatari citizens account for approximately 12% of Qatar’s total population in H2 2016. As the numbers of migrants in Qatar keep increasing,  the local population is becoming an increasingly smaller minority as shown in the graphic below.

Although the biggest changes occurred in the massive influx of migrants after 2004, in 2010 the locals accounted for 15% of the total, while now they have dropped to 12%. This goes to show that the downward trend is still in effect. It is interesting to note that the total population of Qataris is actually increasing fast, it just cannot keep up with the ever growing numbers of foreigners pouring into the country and is thus shrinking in proportion to the total number.

As evident from the graphic above, Qataris have been a minority in their own country for a long time. Sometime between 2004 and 2008 Indians also surpassed Qataris as the biggest single national group, while Nepalis surged ahead of the locals by 2013 latest. Another community that is fast gaining up on the local population and is likely to surpass it in the near future is that of Bangladesh.

Bangladeshis in Qatar

As mentioned before, the number of Bangladeshis in Qatar is increasing at a stupendously fast rate. According to the latest available data, there were 280,000 in early 2016 and that number is likely to explode in the coming few years as Qatar and Bangladesh have signed an agreement to recruit up to 300,000 additional Bangladeshi workers in the next two years.

According to Bangladesh’s Minister for Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment, around 125,000 Bangladeshi workers headed to Qatar in 2015 alone and the number in 2016 was expected to reach 200,000 new arrivals. Considering this, it is highly likely that the true numbers of Bangladeshis in Qatar are already considerably higher than the last official estimate of 280,000 which was given in March 2016.

Filipinos in Qatar

According to data, which I received in January from the Filipino Embassy in Qatar, there were 222,712 Filipinos with valid work visas as of May 2016. Although I was unable to receive further clarifications regarding the number, media reports indicate that does not include Filipinos on family sponsorship. According to the Philippine Business Council in Qatar, the total number of Filipinos should be around 260,000.

After the Filipino community experienced a decline in 2013, when an unofficial ban on new Filipino visas was supposedly in effect, their numbers are again on the rise.

Their migration to Qatar started in the 1980s, but dramatically accelerated later on in the 2000s. In 2009 alone, the number of Filipinos heading to Qatar, jumped 84% in comparison to 2008, with more than half being hired in the construction and manufacturing industries and about 25% as service workers. In 2015 the number increased very noticeably again as only new hires went up from 26,831 in 2014 to 49,161 in 2015.

How data on the population of Qatar by nationality was compiled

The most important thing to point out is that the Government of Qatar does not publish demographic data on population by nationality. The only exception is for Qatari nationals, for which the number can be extrapolated from various demographic data sets published by the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics (MDPS). While it has never publicly stated why that is the case, it is fair to assume it has to do with the fact Qatari nationals only comprise around 12% of the total population.

For the purpose of this report, I have therefore had to resort to an alternative way of gathering information. The majority of figures shown in the table below have been sourced from foreign embassies in Qatar. While they are mostly estimates, in many cases the embassies have been clear the data was given to them by Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, meaning that data was exact at the day of issuing the report.

In several additional cases the Government of Qatar has made data for specific nationalities publicly available. These occasions happened when a high ranking official was interviewed by the media, as well as a few instances of the figures appearing on official Qatari Governmental websites.

As I have prepared this sort of report twice before (in 2013 and 2014), the 2017 report is meant to serve as an update and contains the latest available information on each nationality in Qatar. Most of the data on individual nationalities is at most two years old and thus aims to showcase the most recent possible numbers. Since figures for some nationalities are extremely hard to come by, I have nevertheless kept data even if it’s somewhat older, as I wanted to make as broad a data set as possible available to the public.

While I have been able to collate figures for over 80 nationalities residing in Qatar, there are of course many more that are not presented in this research. The reasons for that are mainly that no existing publicly available data could be found and/or the Embassies were unwilling/unable to provide the data on the numbers of their nationals in Qatar.

Qatari nationals

While MDPS never clearly and directly says how many Qatari nationals there are, the fact that they publish a lot of demographic data, makes it possible to extrapolate the numbers, using various data sets. For the purpose of this report, the following two publications were used: The “Qatar’s Labour Force Survey 2016 Q2” clearly states there were 194,432 Qatari nationals aged 15 years or above in Q2 2016. This number includes economically active and inactive population (including disabled persons, students, retirees, homemakers, etc) and is provided based on gender as well.

The second report titled “Woman and man in the state of Qatar 2014” gives us the ratio of Qataris below 15 years of age in comparison to the rest of the population (Page 18) – 37% for females and 39.1% for males . The estimate of the population ratio is from mid 2013. A simple equation let us calculate how many Qataris there were in total in Q2 2016 (I have ignored the potential shift in the population pyramid which might have occurred in the last three years, so there is some room for error there).

In-depth research into the historic figures on Qatari nationals as well as own work on population estimates was previously conducted by Onn Winckler from the Department of Middle Eastern History, University of Haifa and published by the Middle East Forum – How Many Qatari Nationals Are There?. The estimates go up to the year 2010 and while the methodology used was different to ours, the Professor’s calculation that there should be around 245,770 Qatari nationals at the end of 2010 and a forecasted 290,000 by 2015, does make our figure of 313,000 Qatari nationals in mid 2016 likely.

These figures are to an extent further supported by a joint UNDP and MDPS report from June 15, 2015. Data can be extrapolated to show there were 244,454 Qatari nationals at some point in 2010 for example.

Priya DSouza Consultancy offers business intelligence and related services. For more information see the Consultancy page or email us at contact@priyadsouza.com.

Population data sources

1.) Procured directly from the Embassy: Albania, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Benin, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Finland, Gambia, Germany, Hungary, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Macedonia, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland and Venezuela.

2.) Figures published in the media (that can be attributed to a Government official):

http://archive.qatar-tribune.com/viewnews.aspx?n=129DD433-0B13-430C-9DF4-0F864206E8AC&d=20160501
http://archive.qatar-tribune.com/viewnews.aspx?n=6D44CF53-7912-425E-B65D-A1F5B405F34D&d=20141230
http://asiantelegraphqatar.com/culturetraditions/30-increase-in-bilateral-trade-recorded-since-2015-ukraine-envoy-to-qatar/
http://astanatimes.com/2015/06/kazakhstan-qatar-poised-to-expand-economic-ties-ambassador-in-doha-says/
http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/qatar/qatar-russia-to-boost-ties-as-charm-offensive-continues-1.738410
http://m.gulf-times.com/Story/480151
http://m.gulf-times.com/Story/480151
http://m.gulf-times.com/Story/496933
http://m.gulf-times.com/Story/516987
http://m.gulf-times.com/Story/521462
http://pr.aljazeera.com/post/132089229190/al-jazeera-englishs-upfront-interview-with
http://thepeninsulaqatar.com/news/qatar/355349/mexican-embassy-opens
http://www.agerpres.ro/english/2015/05/04/interview-pm-ponta-opposition-is-currently-nil-no-match-for-government-17-59-02
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/04/sudanese-expatriates-apathetic-presidential-vote-150419084902992.html
http://www.gulf-times.com/story/479273/Business-ties-with-Qatar-growing-Vietnam-envoy
http://www.gulf-times.com/story/484781/Celebrating-Senegal
http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2017-01-12/nepal-raises-labour-issues-with-qatar.html
http://www.gulf-times.com/story/515874/I-have-no-regrets
http://www.gulf-times.com/story/522827/The-Croats-are-here
http://www.gulf-times.com/story/523147/Global-economy-in-focus-at-ICAI-Doha-international
http://bit.ly/2jWC3Lf
http://bit.ly/2jUD4RI
http://www.qadran.fr/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Study-QatarFrance_March2016_IRIS.pdf
http://www.qatar-tribune.com/news-details/id/29137
http://www.qatar-tribune.com/news-details/id/33713
http://www.qatar-tribune.com/PrintNews.aspx?id=1894
http://www.qatarday.com/news/local/qatari-firms-to-employ-an-additional-24000-indonesian/41152
http://www.qna.org.qa/en-us/News/16030222520116/Thai-Labour-Minister-Praises-Guests-Worker-Condition-in-Qatar
http://www.qna.org.qa/en-us/News/16051712470031/Qatar-South-Africa-Enjoy-Distinct-Ties
http://www.sc.qa/en/news/sc-community-representatives-at-leadership-workshop
http://www2.anba.com.br/noticia/21872003/education/university-in-qatar-offers-portuguese-classes/
https://dohanews.co/number-of-bangladeshis-in-qatar-may-double-over-next-two-years/
https://dohanews.co/pakistans-president-arrive-qatar-today-goodwill-visit/
https://dohanews.co/philippines-ambassador-leaving-qatar-heavy-heart/
https://dohanews.co/qatar-china-aim-restore-glory-new-year-culture-kicks-off/
https://dohanews.co/qatar-to-get-new-british-ambassador-as-hopton-moves-on/
https://m.gulf-times.com/Story/521162
https://web.archive.org/web/20140808062154/http://thepeninsulaqatar.com/plus/cover-plus/213479/a-school-for-latecomers
https://www.defense.gov/News/Article/Article/627557/first-lady-visits-praises-troops-at-al-udeid-air-base
https://www.dfa.ie/irish-embassy/uae/our-role/irish-community/irish-societies-in-the-gulf/
http://bit.ly/2jCHk7i
https://www.ifri.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/notes_qatar_afrique_en_oksl.pdf
https://www.ifri.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/notes_qatar_afrique_en_oksl.pdf
https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=766202
https://www.mofa.gov.qa/en/news/details/2015/02/20/-al-attiyah-gcc-serious-about-measures-to-protect-its-security
https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2016/03/183255/qatar-to-recruit-50000-moroccan-workers/
https://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/article/20/05/2016/Qatar-taking-good-care-of-Tunisians-Essebsi
https://www.zawya.com/uae/en/story/Aoun_the_best_choice_for_Lebanon_Qatar_emir-DS12012017_dsart-388980/