Qatar has become the world’s richest country per capita measured by the value of its built environment, according to the latest Global Built Asset Wealth Index published by Arcadis, the leading global design and consultancy firm for natural and built assets.
In the Middle East, the other top asset-rich countries per capita in the Arcadis Global Built Asset Wealth Index are the UAE (with built assets of $140,500 for every citizen) and Saudi Arabia ($107,000).
Qatar has emerged as the global leader, toppling Singapore with built assets of $198,000 for every citizen, stated the index, which was compiled for Arcadis by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr).
It calculates the value of all the buildings and infrastructure that contribute to economic productivity in 32 countries, which collectively make up 87 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP).
“The health and wealth of a nation can be measured in many different ways and while factors such as GDP or employment have great value, a prosperous society is underpinned by a well-developed built environment that meets the needs of its people and economy,” remarked Alan Richell, the head of Business Advisory in the Middle East at Arcadis.
“Today, Qatar has the fastest growing construction industry in the GCC, rapidly expanding at an annual rate of 18 per cent, and this is expected to continue for the next decade. This growth will be underpinned by a number of large investments in infrastructure programmes,” said Richell.
On the UAE, Arcadis report said it has become the world’s fifth richest country per capita measured by the value of its built environment. The emirates makes up the top five behind the other global giants Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan, it added.
“To date, Dubai alone has built 190 skyscrapers since the millennium and is developing its economic diversification plans even further in sectors such as tourism, financial services and education,” stated Richell.
Globally, Qatar and Singapore stand comfortably ahead of the pack on built assets per capita, at $198,000 and $192,000 respectively.
The countries near the top of this ranking are disproportionately made up of smaller nations, either by population or area, so the density of the built asset stock is much greater per resident, said the report.
“The UAE for example also came in high at number five with a strong built asset per capita at $140,500, whereas Saudi Arabia has a smaller built asset stock per capita, at $107,000 where its built asset wealth is spread amongst its large and growing population,” explained Richell.
According to him, the 2022 Fifa World Cup and Qatar’s 2030 National Vision are driving huge infrastructure investments over the next 10 years.
“These include plans for further investment in transport infrastructure, water and electricity in the next five years, by 2020. Qatar’s total built asset stock has grown 677 per cent since 2000 and will continue to grow at double digit levels for the foreseeable future,” he added.
Arcadis said the total built asset wealth globally now stands at an estimated $218 trillion, which is the equivalent to $30,700 per person alive today. The stock of built assets is closely correlated with a nation’s economic output.
On average, countries analysed have a built asset stock worth 2.9 times GDP. China now has a built asset wealth of $47.6 trillion, overtaking the US which comes in second place with a wealth of $36.8 trillion. On a regional basis, Saudi Arabia has a built asset wealth of $3.15 trillion, while the UAE and Qatar rank respectively at $1.33 trillion and $0.45 trillion, said the report.
Richell pointed out that the 2015 Index shows a dramatic shift of wealth to emerging economies.
“Saudi Arabia and the UAE will continue to climb due to their especially high rates of investment,” he added.