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The Qatari freight and logistics market is estimated to record a CAGR of more than 6.5% during the forecast period. As one of the largest liquefied nitrogen gas (LNG) suppliers globally, the country has supported the growth of the logistics market. The market’s growth can be attributed to new expansion plans as the country hosts the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The market is expected to be driven by expanding industrial activities, growing e-commerce and automotive sectors, upcoming infrastructure in the country, and continuous investments by the government to develop logistics infrastructure. After the COVID-19 pandemic-induced lockdown, imports from neighbouring countries stopped, and Qatar shifted its focus toward European and Asian countries to meet the import demand. Hence, its logistics sector grew despite the lockdown. Additionally, the ambitious plans of the Qatari government to develop the country into a new logistical and regional centre have supported the growth of the country’s logistics market. Qatar is one of the largest LNG suppliers globally, which also contributed to this growth.
The geographical location of the country, encouraging investment laws, and stable exchange rates have also contributed to the sector’s growth. Qatar is located in the heart of the Middle-East. Thus, a substantial number of markets can be reached from the country. The country’s peninsular geography allows ports, such as Ras Laffan, Mesaieed, and Doha, to offer significant competitive trade advantages particularly for its oil and gas exports.
Qatar is expected to become a global centre for technology, life sciences, healthcare, logistics, and a hub for temperature and time-sensitive commodities with its well-developed airport infrastructure and services. With a strategic location near Hamad International Airport and Hamad Port, the free zones in the Ras Bufontas and Umm Alhoul regions are designed to support the booming logistics industry clusters. Ras Bufontas, the airport-free zone, will complement high value and time-sensitive products, while Umm Alhoul, the port-free zone, will provide international freight forwarders access to the chemical, oil and gas, and heavy machinery sectors.
Key Market Trends
Increased E-commerce Boosting the Logistics Market’s Growth
The COVID-19 pandemic and all the resultant market conditions have proved a catalyst for Qatar's e-commerce market, which was already growing over the last few years. Certain factors are propelling this growth, including increased online engagement from both retailers and consumers and increased screen time and social media usage. The number of e-commerce-enabled websites has more than tripled since 2015. Some consumer segments are witnessing more spending than others. The online fashion and beauty sector and the food and grocery delivery sector have been dominant in the Qatari market over the last half a decade.
Lockdowns, virtual working arrangements, and infection risks caused myriad changes in consumer behavior, with most preferring to shop from the safety of their homes. While devastating for many businesses, these changes have strengthened Qatar's e-commerce proposition, thus boosting the growth of the freight and logistics market in Qatar. The size of the Qatari e-commerce market was estimated at USD 1.9 billion in 2020.
Leading Infrastructure and Construction Boosting the Logistics Market’s Growth
There have been fast-paced developments in the infrastructure and construction sector due to the FIFA World Cup to be held in Qatar in 2022. The country is expected to focus on upgrading its logistics infrastructure, especially in the seaports, constructing regional and international logistics service centers, improving the efficiency of connection between Qatar and other countries, and becoming a modern logistics hub in the future. The ports authority is planning to convert available areas into additional container storage areas to cater to the growing demand. It is also investing heavily in developing ports and other logistic areas.
The ports authority has acquired additional lands to build special economic zones in the southern part of the country. The market is expected to be driven by the upcoming infrastructure in the country and continuous investments by the government for the development of logistics infrastructure. As of 2020, the value of the construction sector in Qatar was almost QAR 75 billion. In 2020, the construction sector’s contribution to Qatar's real gross domestic product (GDP) growth was -3.9%.
The market is fairly concentrated with the presence of a few major players. Domestic players mainly dominate the market. However, the presence of international players is expected to increase in the future as the country gears to become a logistics hub. With the market growing steadily, the logistics companies in the country are continuously looking to expand their networks and infrastructures. Some of the major players operating in the country include Gulf Agency Company (GAC), Gulf Warehousing Company (GWC), DHL, and Aero Freight.
(Research and edit by The Decision Maker)