Qatar's emir said Tuesday that the super-rich Gulf state must tackle its "culture of consumption" as it deals with the sharp decline in world energy prices.
In a speech to mark the opening session of Qatar’s Advisory Council, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani also called for the elimination of “extravagance and waste” as the emirate faces its first budget deficit in 15 years.
Sheikh Tamim said that Qatar would complete all infrastructure projects connected with the 2022 football World Cup but would strive for greater efficiency in government spending in a new five-year plan to be launched next year.
This new approach would incorporate the development of a “culture of planning, work and achievement”, as well as cultural changes, especially aimed at the country’s young.
“There are challenges that we should tackle, which are related to the goals and values of young people and the impact of the culture of consumption on these goals and values,” the official Qatar News Agency quoted the emir as saying.
“Without that we cannot move forward — wealth alone is not sufficient.”
The emir’s comments echo an address he gave last year in which he told Qataris the government could no longer provide “for everything” and urged the young to pursue different career paths.
Revenues from oil and gas have transformed Qatar into one of the world’s richest countries, but income has been hit by the fall in global prices.
The government projects a budget deficit of more than $12 billion for 2016 with further deficits likely to follow in 2017 and 2018.
In response, the government is set to introduce a value-added tax.
The emir said the speed of the fall in world prices had taken everyone by surprise.
“Frankly speaking, although we had anticipated that high energy prices would not remain indefinitely… no one expected this fast decline in energy prices,” he said.