The Qatar stock market surged to a record high over 13,000 last week – and then promptly hit the skids. It lost over 5% as concern mounted that Qatar might lose the 2022 World Cup amid allegations of bribery.
The jitters came just as the market was promoted to the MSCI Emerging Markets index. It had previously been a ‘frontier market’, MSCI’s term for a small, illiquid exchange with poor governance.
The upgrade is expected to unlock $15bn of additional investment in the next few years, as the MSCI index is followed by some of the world’s largest asset managers, says John Ficenec in The Daily Telegraph.
And with huge gas reserves funding lightning-quick development, growth has been hurtling along at annual rates of 5%-17% in the past few years.
But the short-term outlook is murkier. Infrastructure projects worth $140bn-$200bn over the next few years – GDP is still only around $200bn – had cheered investors, but losing the Cup could threaten many of them.
Investors should also note that the local market remains small and volatile. Our favourite Qatar play, the Qatar Investment Fund (UK: QIF), already looks reasonably priced on a discount to net asset value of 16%, but could well become cheaper over the next few months.