DOHA: More than 208,000 foreign workers, including family members of some, arrived in the country last year, beating all records, official figures show.
The figure should, in fact, be higher considering that last month some 23,000 people left the country, population data for 2013, released yesterday, suggest.
A vast majority of these people might have travelled overseas apparently holidaying during the winter break, as over 18,500 of them were women.
The country’s population was 2.04 million until December 31, 2013 as against 1.83 million by 2012-end, data released by the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics reflect.
In 2012, new arrivals totalled only 129,000, some 28,000 of them being women. Among those who arrived here afresh in 2013, women numbered a little over 36,000.
The population growth last year works out to more than 10 percent. Qatar’s population had breached a record two million-mark last September, when it suddenly swelled to 2.03 million, from 1.86 million the previous month.
In the month of September, the population had grown by more than 170,000. The population had peaked at 2.06 million (2,068,050) last November. Talking of the population until December 31, the Ministry, as usual, said: “The data represents the number of persons of all ages within the boundaries of the State of Qatar” as on that date.
Qatari nationals as well as expatriates with residency permits who were out of the country on December 31 (2013) are not included in the monthly population census, said the Ministry.
Men continue to outnumber women by three to one. In other words, of the 2.04 million people in the country, 1.53 million were men.
For the first time, the population of women had crossed the 500,000-barrier, and peaked at 533,674 last November. It was marginally down to 515,138 until December 31, apparently, as many families are out vacationing.
In 2012, women totalled some 472,613, while their number was 436,562 the previous year, and 409,000 in 2010.
A look at the population figures of the last four years since Qatar won the coveted 2022 bid reveals a stupendous growth.
The population in 2010 (at the fag-end of which the FIFA bid win came) was 1.63 million, up only marginally, by about 6,000, over the previous year, 2009.
The following year, in 2011, more than 70,000 new arrivals were recorded, taking the population to beyond 1.7 million.
It surged to 1.83 million in 2012 and the rest is history, as evidenced from the latest figures.
It is interesting to note that population growth rates since 2012 have been far jumping the target set by the National Development Strategy (NDS) 2011-16.
The NDS projected the total population in 2012 at 1.76m, while in reality it soared to 1.83m, jumping the target.
For 2013, the target was set at 1.78m, but by the end of the year the population exploded beyond the two-million-mark.
Interestingly, the population growth target set by the NDS 2011-16 does not project more than 2m population until its end: In 2016, which is the last plan year for NDS, the population is projected at 1.86m.
According to experts, what is worrisome is that a population growth which is not planned for can put sudden and unwanted pressure on public services, utilities, housing and basic food needs and trigger inflationary pressures, as was witnessed during 2006-08.
Already, house rents have begun soaring due to rising demand and food inflation has been seen for a while.
According to one observer who didn’t want his name in print, aside from escalating rentals, the chaotic scenes on the Doha road is just another example of unplanned population growth — of both men and vehicles.