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 either Qatar’s Planning and Statistics Authority (PSA), Ministry of Interior, the Permanent Population Committee or any other Governmental body, we have embarked on collating as much data as possible on the subject, in order to shine a light on a matter of common interest.

We started this project back in 2013 when we gathered population data on 55 different nationalities living in Qatar, continued in 2014 with 63 nationalities and 2017 with 87 nationalities, and now the 2019 report has grown even slightly broader in scope, containing population numbers for 94 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.

Our aim is to present the freshest possible information and thus 57% of the data on the population of individual nationalities is at most one year old, with around 75% of data being no older than two years. The population of Afghan nationals is the oldest included – from November 2012. While the older the data is, the less enthusiastic we are to include it, we have nevertheless included the data for those nationalities as well in order to highlight data on as many nationalities as possible.

The list of nationalities

Nationality Population Percent of total* Data Recency
India 700,000 21.8% May-19
Bangladesh 400,000 12.5% Apr-19
Nepal 400,000 12.5% Jul-18
Qatar 333,000 10.5% Q1-19
Egypt 300,000 9.35% May-18
Philippines 236,000 7.35% Jul-19
Pakistan 150,000 4.7% Jul-19
Sri Lanka 140,000 4.35% Sep-18
Sudan 60,000 1.9% Jan-19
Syria 54,000 1.7% Nov-15
Jordan 51,000 1.6% May-17
Lebanon 40,000 1.25% Jan-19
USA 40,000 1.25% Jul-19
Kenya 30,000 1% Mar-19
Iran 30,000 1% Dec-13
Indonesia 27,350 0.85% Apr-19
Tunisia 26,000 0.8% Nov-18
Ethiopia 25,000 0.8% Jan-18
UK 22,000 0.7% Apr-18
Nigeria 11,000 0.35% Sep-18
China >10,000 0.3% Jan-16
Turkey 10,000 0.3% Jun-18
Eritrea 10,000 0.3% Aug-16
Canada 9,200 0.3% Mar-19
Saudi Arabia 8,245 0.25% Aug-17
Ghana 8,000 0.25% May-18
Palestine 8,000 0.25% Apr-19
South Africa 6,500 0.2% Apr-19
Iraq 6,100 0.2% Nov-18
France 5,500 0.17% Sep-18
Uganda 5,000 – 6,000 ~0.17% Apr-19
Malaysia 5,000 0.15% Jan-19
Spain 4,000 0.12% Mar-18
Afghanistan 3,500 – 4,000 ~0.12% Nov-12
Australia 3,100 <0.10% Jul-19
Thailand 3,065 0.1% Jul-19
Ireland 3,000 0.1% Jul-19
Greece 2,600 <0.10% Mar-19
Romania 2,500 <0.10% Jun-19
Russia 2,500 <0.10% Mar-18
Bahrain 2,349 <0.10% Aug-17
Italy 2,100 <0.10% Nov-16
Serbia 2,000 <0.10% Jul-19
South Korea 2,000 <0.10% Dec-18
Germany 1,800 <0.10% Mar-19
Brazil 1,500 <0.10% Dec-18
Portugal 1,500 <0.10% 2018
Ukraine 1,500 <0.10% 2019
Vietnam 1,400 <0.10% Apr-19
Netherlands 1,350 <0.10% Jul-19
Albania 1,200 <0.10% Jan-17
UAE 1,027 <0.10% Aug-17
North Macedonia 1,000 <0.10% Dec-13
New Zealand 989 <0.10% Feb-17
Japan 949 <0.10% Oct-17
Denmark 900 <0.10% Feb-17
Bosnia 750 <0.10% Mar-18
Belgium 700 <0.10% Oct-18
Poland 1,000 <0.10% Sep-19
Mexico 550 <0.10% Jul-19
Sweden 550 <0.10% Jul-19
Croatia 500 <0.10% Nov-18
Cuba ~500 <0.10% Jun-19
Kyrgyzstan 500 <0.10% May-19
Austria 500 <0.10% Nov-16
Bulgaria 400 <0.10% Apr-19
El Salvador 400 <0.10% Sep-18
Hungary 400 <0.10% Nov-17
Singapore 400 <0.10% Jul-19
Azerbaijan 350 <0.10% Feb-19
Venezuela 337 <0.10% Dec-14
Argentina 320 <0.10% Jul-19
Czech Republic 300 <0.10% Jul-19
Gambia 300 <0.10% May-17
Finland 250 <0.10% Oct-18
Switzerland 238 <0.10% 2018
Senegal a few hundred <0.10% Mar-16
Georgia 200 <0.10% Feb-18
Belarus 200 <0.10% Jan-17
Kazakhstan 200 <0.10% Aug-15
Colombia 200 <0.10% Feb-17
Moldova 160 <0.10% 2018
Norway 160 <0.10% 2015
Panama 120 <0.10% Jul-19
Peru 100 <0.10% Jul-19
Slovakia 100 <0.10% Aug-19
Ecuador 100 <0.10% Dec-14
Benin 82 <0.10% Dec-14
Dominican Republic 75 <0.10% Aug-19
Brunei 41 <0.10% Jul-19
Liberia 40 <0.10% Dec-13
Zimbabwe 32 <0.10% Jul-19
Uruguay 23 <0.10% Jul-19
Latvia 22 <0.10% Jan-18
*Percentages correspond to the total estimated population of Qatar at the time the data is derived from.

Trends in Qatar’s expat populations

While Qatar’s population as a whole has started witnessing a somewhat slowed growth, especially in comparison to the explosive years which started around 2003, there are differences in just how much individual communities are growing. One of the biggest changes that occurred from 2013 when we first assembled this report, can be found in the Bangladeshi community, which went from 137,000 in 2013 to around 400,000 as of spring 2019 – a whooping 190% 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: Indonesia, UK, Iraq, Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, Germany and Japan to name a few.

A notable change has been detected in the Egyptian population, with the number increasing from 200,000 to 300,000 in the span of only three years (2015 to 2018). Considering the relationship between the two countries has been hostile in recent years, there is always a possibility that the numbers given by the Minister of State for Emigration and Egyptian Expatriates, are politically motivated.

Focusing on the smaller ethnic groups in Qatar, some of the biggest increases between 2013 and 2019 were seen in the following communities: Kenyans (from 5,000 to 30,000), Chinese (from 6,000 to over 10,000), Nigerians (from 6,500 to 10,000), French (from 3,600 to 5,500), Canadians (from 3,500 to 9,300), South Africans (from 3,000 to 6,500), Greeks and Romanians (from 1,000 to 2,600)

Which nationalities are expected to considerably grow in the future?

One 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 which just might continue skyrocketing, a number of other nations have signed agreements with Qatar.

Some of the ongoing drives include the agreement between Qatar and Pakistan to bring in an additional 100,000 Pakistanis to the country. The agreement was signed in 2015 and the reports indicate 55,000 people were already recruited since then, which roughly corresponds with our own numbers, as the Pakistani community was about 90,000 strong in 2013 and today stands at around 150,000. Thus it could be expected that in the following few years, the community keeps growing to around 200,000.

It’s worth noting that not all of these negotiations always end up in concrete agreements or lead to actual hiring from that country, as seemed to be the case with Ugandan and Cambodian pacts in the past.

A further indicator of what the future might hold is The Population Policy of the State of Qatar 2017 – 2022, published by the Permanent Population Committee. One of the goals outlined in the paper is to balance the distribution of workers by nationality and reduce the concentration of certain nationalities in some professions. It is interesting to note that priority should be given to Arab nationalities in recruitment. If this translates to a higher growth in these communities remains to be seen.

Indians in Qatar

Indians constitute by far the biggest single nationality in Qatar, numbering at around 700,000 as of spring 2019. 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 unskilled and semi-skilled emigration to Qatar. Between 2011 and 2018 the main sending states of Indian labour to Qatar were as follows in decreasing order: Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh (including Telangana since data does not exist for this State prior to its founding in 2014).

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.

The migration of Indian unskilled and semi-skilled labour to not only Qatar, but the GCC in general, seems to have dramatically decreased in recent years. Emigration clearances have fallen from 775,000 in 2014 to 294,000 in 2018, largely due to the slow down of the Gulf economies, due to slumped oil prices, as well as potentially from Indians bypassing the mandatory clearances by applying for tourist visas to the Gulf and then once there finding employment and converting their visas to residence permits.

Nepalis in Qatar

According to the latest available data that can be attributed to an official source, there are around 400,000 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 changes to the Kafala system in 2018 were met with approval and praise by international labour organizations such as ILO, especially with regards to the abolition of the exit permit system. However at the same time observers point out there are still numerous laws that need amending, such as employers being allowed to hold on to their employees’ passports with a written consent.

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.

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 around 400,000 in early 2019 and that number might further grow in the coming few years as Qatar and Bangladesh have signed an agreement in 2016 to recruit up to 300,000 additional Bangladeshi workers. Considering there were 280,000 Bangladeshis in the country at the time, their number could increase to just shy of 600,000 in the coming years, although their growth was only marginal since 2017 when the community already swelled to 380,000.

With the rapid increase of construction workers coming from Bangladesh, similar stories of poor working conditions have started to emerge as those of the Nepali community.

Qatari citizens

According to our calculations which are based on official Planning and Statistics Authority (PSA) data sets, there were around 333,000 Qatari nationals as of early 2019 (more information on the methodology can be found at the end of this article). This means Qatari citizens accounted for approximately 10.5% of Qatar’s total population in mid 2019. 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 approximately 10.5%. 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 surpassed Qataris as the single biggest national group, while Nepalis surged ahead of the locals by 2013 latest and Bangladeshis in 2017.

Filipinos in Qatar

According to data, which we received from the Filipino Embassy in Qatar, there were 236,000 Filipinos living in the country as of July 2019. The Filipino community has been more steady throughout recent years with the numbers going up and down only slightly, however still having an upward trajectory since 2012, when there were 185,000 living in Qatar.

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.

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 Planning and Statistics Authority (PSA). 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 10.5% of the total population.

For the purpose of this report, we 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 for example, as well as a few instances of the figures appearing on official Qatari Governmental websites.

As we have prepared this sort of report thrice before (in 2013, 2014 and 2017), the 2019 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, we have nevertheless kept data even if it’s somewhat older, as we wanted to make as broad a data set as possible available to the public.

While we have been able to collate figures for over 90 nationalities residing in Qatar, there are of course still some 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 PSA 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 2019 Q1” clearly states there were 208,919 Qatari nationals aged 15 years or above in Q1 2019. 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 2018” gives us the ratio of Qataris below 15 years of age in comparison to the rest of the population (Page 20) – 36.1% for females and 38.5% for males . The estimate of the population ratio is from 2017. A simple equation lets us calculate how many Qataris there were in total in Q1 2019.

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 333,000 Qatari nationals in early 2019 likely.

These figures are to an extent further supported by a joint UNDP and PSA 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 Communications 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, Australia, Brunei, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Mexico, Moldova, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Sweden, Thailand, Ukraine, Uruguay and Zimbabwe.

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

-http://astanatimes.com/2015/06/kazakhstan-qatar-poised-to-expand-economic-ties-ambassador-in-doha-says/
-https://desktop.gulf-times.com/story/607505/El-Salvador-looking-for-more-visibility-in-Qatar
-http://en.jba.com.jo/SubDefault.aspx?PageId=95&NewsId=1132
-http://pr.aljazeera.com/post/132089229190/al-jazeera-englishs-upfront-interview-with
-http://qatar-tribune.com/news-details/id/113485
-http://www.bq-magazine.com/economy/2013/12/population-qatar-nationality
-http://www.gulf-times.com/story/484781/Celebrating-Senegal
-http://www.politico.com/sponsor-content/2019/07/al-udeid-home-to-11000-us-troops
-http://www.qatartribune.com.qa/news-details/id/162486
-http://www.qatar-tribune.com/news-details/id/108031
-http://www.qatar-tribune.com/news-details/id/114586
-http://www.qatar-tribune.com/news-details/id/116806
-http://www.qatar-tribune.com/news-details/id/120328
-http://www.qatar-tribune.com/news-details/id/120857
-http://www.qatar-tribune.com/news-details/id/128832
-http://www.qatar-tribune.com/news-details/id/161409
-http://www.qatar-tribune.com/news-details/id/33713
-http://www.qatar-tribune.com/news-details/id/94673
-http://www.sc.qa/en/news/sc-community-representatives-at-leadership-workshop
-https://dohanews.co/qatar-china-aim-restore-glory-new-year-culture-kicks-off/
-https://en.nhandan.org.vn/politics/external-relations/item/7332602-vietnam-wants-to-send-more-vietnamese-workers-to-qatar-na-leader.html
-https://en.parliament.iq/2018/11/19/al-halbusi-meets-iraqi-community-in-qatar/
-https://m.gulf-times.com/Story/521162
-https://report.az/en/other-countries/azerbaijan-and-qatar-intend-to-sign-a-number-of-important-agreements/
-https://spcommreports.ohchr.org/TMResultsBase/DownLoadPublicCommunicationFile?gId=23273
-https://spcommreports.ohchr.org/TMResultsBase/DownLoadPublicCommunicationFile?gId=23274
-https://spcommreports.ohchr.org/TmSearch/SummaryPrint?id=23277
-https://thepeninsulaqatar.com/article/01/10/2018/Finland-enjoys-growing-relations-with-Qatar-Envoy
-https://thepeninsulaqatar.com/article/04/05/2017/Gambians-hail-plan-for-embassy-reopening
-https://thepeninsulaqatar.com/article/12/11/2018/Tunisian-community-in-Qatar-lives-like-a-close-knit-family
-https://thepeninsulaqatar.com/article/14/01/2019/Qatar,-Sudan-share-fraternal-relations
-https://thepeninsulaqatar.com/article/15/04/2019/Qatar-Indonesia-ties-strengthening-with-time
-https://thepeninsulaqatar.com/article/22/04/2019/Palestinian-community-keeps-culture-and-heritage-alive-in-Qatar
-https://thepeninsulaqatar.com/article/28/01/2019/Envoy-sees-many-avenues-in-Qatar-Cuba-ties
-https://web.archive.org/web/20140808062154/http://thepeninsulaqatar.com/plus/cover-plus/213479/a-school-for-latecomers
-https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/qatar-croatia-ink-8-deals-to-advance-cooperation/1315664
-https://www.albawaba.com/business/canada-keen-increasing-trade-volume-qatar-1263020
-https://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/en/home/statistics/population/migration-integration/swiss-abroad.assetdetail.7806806.html
-https://www.egypttoday.com/Article/1/49900/Immigration-warns-300k-Egyptians-in-Doha-of-being-deported
-https://www.gulf-times.com/story/585138/Over-2-500-Russians-in-Qatar-to-vote-in-election
-https://www.gulf-times.com/story/591968/Embassy-opening-will-boost-Qatar-Ghana-ties
-https://www.gulf-times.com/story/600332/I-am-proud-of-the-Nepali-community-in-Qatar
-https://www.gulf-times.com/story/609857/Belgians-a-vibrant-community
-https://www.gulf-times.com/story/616060/South-Korean-envoy-praises-friendly-relations-with
-https://www.gulf-times.com/story/616632/Brazilian-envoy-Qatar-faced-challenges-with-courag
-https://www.gulf-times.com/story/620195/Relishing-authentic-Malaysian-cuisine
-https://www.gulf-times.com/story/620524/Lebanese-official-hails-Qatar-support
-https://www.gulf-times.com/story/627054/Embassy-of-Greece-hosts-reception-on-National-Day
-https://www.gulf-times.com/story/628368/Ugandan-community-hail-launch-of-embassy-in-Qatar
-https://www.gulf-times.com/story/629335/I-like-to-take-on-challenges-Ashud-Ahmed-Ambassado
-https://www.ifri.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/notes_qatar_afrique_en_oksl.pdf
-https://www.livemint.com/companies/news/qatar-airways-asks-india-to-allow-additional-flights-to-doha-1557934468047.html
-https://www.mdps.gov.qa/en/statistics/Statistical%20Releases/Social/LaborForce/2019/Q1/LF_Q1_2019_AE.pdf
-https://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/article/16/07/2019/Peru-finalising-a-comprehensive-investment-pact-with-Qatar-Envoy
-https://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/article/16/09/2018/Qatar-France-economic-relations-flourishing-French-envoy
-https://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/article/16/09/2018/Qatar-Sri-Lanka-economic-ties-enter-defining-moment
-https://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/article/16/09/2018/Tributes-paid-to-Nigerian-ambassador

1970-2004 data: http://gulfmigration.eu/population-by-nationality-qatari-non-qatari-census-1970-2010/
2019 data: https://www.psa.gov.qa/en/statistics/Statistical%20Releases/Social/LaborForce/2019/Q1/LF_Q1_2019_AE.pdf and https://www.psa.gov.qa/en/statistics/Statistical%20Releases/Social/GenrealSocialStatistics/MenWomenProfile/2018/Woman_Man_2018_EN.pdf