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HE Dr. Saleh Mohammad Al Nabit

QATAR - Economy

The Human Factor

Minister of Development Planning and Statistics, Qatar

Bio

In June 2013, Saleh bin Mohammed Al-Nabit was appointed as the Minister of Development Planning and Statistics. Since June 2011, he was the Secretary-General for the General Secretariat for Development Planning (GSDP). Before being appointed as Secretary-General, he served as the Director of the Institutional Development at the General Secretariat for Development Planning from 2008 to 2011. He holds a PhD in Development Economics from the University of Bradford, a Master’s Degree (with distinction) in Business Administration from St. Louis University, as well as a Postgraduate Diploma in Research Methodology from the University of Bradford.

As we approach the half-way point of the National Development Strategy 2011-2016, what would be your overview of the progress made so far? The goals and objectives of Qatar National […]

As we approach the half-way point of the National Development Strategy 2011-2016, what would be your overview of the progress made so far?

The goals and objectives of Qatar National Vision 2030 have ownership across all sectors of society, reflecting the broad participation in its preparation. The Qatar National Development Strategy 2011-2016 (NDS) is a six-year plan of action to steer the country toward these goals. First, we tried to make sure that everybody knew what development changes we were trying to bring about and how. We needed to build human and institutional capacities. Second, every agency has its own strategic plan aligned to the Qatar National Vision 2030 and NDS, so that everybody is moving in the same direction. Qatar National Vision 2030 and NDS are setting Qatar on a development path aligned to the requirements of sound social development. We aim to achieve the targets we set in the NDS by the end of 2016. Currently, we are monitoring the NDS implementation progress as part of a mid-term review. There has already been progress towards many of the targets and, following our review of the implementation progress, we will strengthen institutional and human resource capacities to help us achieve our targets. Some of the targets may not be attainable, so we will adjust them accordingly. Perhaps the most important progress achieved is the culture change and new mindsets. The move towards strategies and plans has begun. An outcome-based strategic planning model has widely been taught, explained, and used; for example, in preparing the NDS 2011-2016, itself. This marks a difference between the pre-NDS era and post-NDS period. Taking into account that most ministries and agencies often did not make strategies and plans before the NDS 2011-2016, the mere introduction and acceptance of the planning culture seems very significant. Also, performance and budgeting are now gradually being linked as part of a long process of replacing the whole chapter-based financial management systems that have prevailed to date. A good progress on the relevant capacity building has been made in this respect. Thirdly, the governance for the NDS has been set up and a steering committee representing all, or most, ministries and agencies is now supervising the implementation. The ultimate value is to have ownership and partnership cultures embedded in the public agencies’ corporate behavior.

How do the NDS 2011-2016 and the Qatar National Vision 2030 take into account the risks involved with having a hydrocarbon-dependent economy and a currency pegged to the US dollar?

The risks of a hydrocarbon-dependent economy are clearly addressed by the economic development pillar of the Qatar National Vision 2030. It underlines the need to diversify Qatar’s economy beyond the oil and gas sector by expanding industries and services with competitive advantages, promoting active private sector participation, and enhancing the knowledge-based component of the economy. The NDS 2011-2016 translates these principles into a comprehensive and inclusive road map that identifies targets, initiatives, and programs that will eventually lead to an economy that relies on sustainable forms of wealth creation. The link to the US dollar has served Qatar well, providing a robust monetary anchor for the economy. As a small economy with capital markets still in the process of development, the dollar peg continues to make a lot of sense.

How adequately is each of the four pillars of the Qatar National Vision 2030 being addressed, and what are some of the challenges that are faced?

The NDS sets out national development priorities. We have programs and projects related to the goals of each of the four pillars of the Qatar National Vision 2030, as well as for modernizing public sector institutions. We prioritize objectives within each development pillar; for example, there is a huge focus within human development in national capacity building, to build and align skills to the needs of a knowledge-based economy. Our human resources are the key to our development progress. In the economic sector, there is a focus on the steps and reforms required to diversify the economy and encourage the private sector to be more efficient, innovative, and productive. Critically, we have to take into account inter-sectorial linkages and join-up initiatives; for example, by linking educational outputs to the needs of the labor market, or by linking health and environment. Getting a consensus on what the national development priorities are and aligning public sector institutions to work together to help meet these priorities can be challenging. Our limited human resources continue to be a challenge. We are in the midst of implementing Qatar’s first NDS and we lack sufficient experience in project management, for example. There has been good progress across the public sector through several capacity-building initiatives; however, we are not yet where we want to be.

“As a small economy with capital markets still in the process of development, the dollar peg continues to make a lot of sense. “

How important is increasing the amount of research done in Qatar to meeting the goal of developing a knowledge-based economy?

Qatar has made good progress in human development, such that it has raised the country’s ranking in the UNDP’s Global Human Development Index (HDI) to 36th, as reported in 2013, compared with 51st in 2000. The HDI combines three dimensions of human capacities: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge, and a decent standard of living. Qatar’s drive for sustainability and its diversification aims, along with the Qatar Foundation’s sizeable investments in knowledge, research, and innovation, are beginning to pay dividends. A growing proportion—around 16%—of graduates are studying in Education City Universities, where the focus is on specializations required for a knowledge economy.

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