Qatari capital markets have undergone significant development in recent years, with the relevant government agencies united in the drive to see the emerging market advance further up the global economic rankings. While the performance of the country’s stock exchange has fluctuated of late, the strong fiscal performance, and timely regulatory, banking-capital-protection and systems updates – including the implementation of a series of initiatives designed to boost liquidity and investor confidence – see Qatar’s financial authorities confident that their overarching objective of shaping the country into an internationally competitive financial centre remains realistic and achievable over the medium to long term.


The Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE) was established in 1995 and began official operation as a private, for-profit company in 1997. In 2009 Qatar’s primary sovereign investment entity, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), entered an agreement with New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Euronext that saw the partner entities set about developing QSE into a globally competitive stock and securities market – aligning with the government’s economic diversification agenda. Following the successful completion of the partnership’s strategic goals, Qatar Holding – the QIA’s principal direct investment arm – acquired full ownership of the QSE by purchasing NYSE Euronext’s stake in 2013, solidifying its position as the sole shareholder.

In 2020 the QSE initiated a distance-learning initiative that was aimed at teaching citizens about the potential of capital markets trading and investment. This educational programme underscores the QSE’s ongoing commitment to actively engage the domestic population, aiming to channel a greater portion of the country’s household wealth. Notably, as of April 2024 Qatar’s GDP per capita stood at $85,000, according to the IMF. Additionally, this effort is in parallel with the broader objective of enhancing international recognition of the country’s rapidly evolving financial markets.


Responsibility for market regulation and oversight lies with the Qatar Financial Markets Authority (QFMA), which was established under Law No. 33 of 2005 and began official operation in 2007. To keep pace with international stock market developments, an overhaul of the 2005 law was brought into force in 2012. The QFMA works continuously to update market regulations and facilities, with considerable activity in that regard taking place post-Covid-19 pandemic, enhancing the QSE’s reputation as a maturing, dynamic market and boosting investor confidence.

The country’s central bank, Qatar Central Bank (QCB), is instrumental in stock and securities market activity, periodically issuing public debt instruments and, more broadly, overseeing and setting national fiscal policy. In 2013 the QCB formed the Qatar Central Securities Depository – more commonly referred to as Edaa – to focus on the safekeeping of securities and other financial instruments, and the clearing and settlement of transactions made on the QSE. Edaa is the only Qatari entity authorised to provide depository and related services in Qatar and is licensed by the QFMA, with the two authorities working together to strengthen national market infrastructure. In November 2023 Edaa announced an update to dividend procedures for companies and shareholders active on the QSE, with the new structure designed to both improve efficiency and facilitate more prompt dividend payments.

A notable development and reflection of the cohesion between government authorities in Qatar came in 2023 with these organisations announcing that they had, alongside the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI), formed a single-window committee in order to oversee QSE development and activity. The 11-person committee comprises five QFMA representatives, four from the QSE and one each from both the MoCI and Edaa. Later in 2023 the committee launched a digital portal through which all investor procedures and communications pertaining to the QSE can be carried out.

The importance of Qatar’s capital markets to growth and economic diversification is evidenced in the Third National Development Strategy 2024-30, which aims to increase liquidity in, and the depth of, equity markets through new listings and international investors, as well as enhance the accessibility of capital markets to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) was established in the country’s capital, Doha, in 2005, with a dedicated regulatory body, the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority (QFCRA), launched alongside it. The QFC offers a range of special dispensations for foreign companies and houses many of the country’s leading private banks, asset and investment management companies and insurance firms, making the organisation and the QFCRA integral to Qatar’s financial markets landscape.

QSE Composition & Dynamics

The QSE’s main index, the QE Index, tracks the 20-largest, most-liquid securities listed on the exchange, with rebalancing occurring semi-annually in April and October. Furthermore, while the QE Index measures price performance, the QE Total Return Index factors in dividend payments from its constituent stocks. The QE All Share Index reflects the performance of all securities listed on the QSE and is used as a gauge for other sectors.

The QE Al Rayan Islamic Index contains many of Qatar’s largest commercial entities, which as of October 2023 comprised 22 companies listed on the QSE that meet specific ethical and sharia-compliant standards. Responsible governance and sustainable operations are among the primary criteria for inclusion in this index.

The top-five companies, in terms of index weighting, as of October 2023 were Industries Qatar (15%), Qatar Islamic Bank (12%), Masraf Al Rayan (10%), Qatar Fuel Company (7.5%) and telecoms provider Ooredoo (7.5%). Both the QE Index and the QE Al Rayan Index now carry namesake exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Of a total QR578.8bn ($158.9bn) in owned portfolios on the QSE in early February 2024, 85% were under Qatari ownership and foreign entities held the remaining 15%. These portfolios encompassed approximately 997,000 shareholders, with individuals comprising 99.2% and institutions and government making up 0.8%.

March 2021 saw the establishment of Qatar Exchange Venture Market (QEVM), which is devoted to the floating of SMEs. The development seeks to provide an alternative route to market for SMEs, enabling them to diversify funding sources and boost equity. While offering the necessary protections for stakeholders, the regulatory framework for the QEVM simplifies access to the market by outlining lower resource and financial requirements than the main market. Education provider Al Faleh Educational Holding was the first company to list on the new exchange and in January 2024 announced that it would move to the main market, having undergone significant expansion since listing on the QEVM. The second company to list on the QEVM was Mekdam Holding in August 2021, and this company also transitioned to the main market in January 2023. QEVM is seen as an integral component in the government’s drive to reinforce the country’s base of SMEs. However, as of April 2024 it hosted a single company, energy- and infrastructure-focused Al Mahhar Holding, with a market capitalisation of QR290m ($79.6m). It is hoped, therefore, that the success enjoyed by Al Faleh Educational Holding and Mekdam Holding will encourage further listings on the QEVM.

Systems Upgrades

During 2020 the QSE and QFMA launched the Q-Disclosure platform, incorporating the international standard for communicating financial data eXtensible Business Reporting Language. The system was implemented to align disclosure and transparency processes on Qatari trading platforms with global best practices. Following a successful trial, the Q-Disclosure system was mandated in October 2020 for firms listed on the QSE. It serves to present periodic financial statements and non-financial disclosures.

In June 2023 in a further effort to align the QSE with leading international stock markets, the exchange switched to a new trading platform, which is used by the London Stock Exchange Group and other major global trading centres. The platform aims to improve performance and efficiency, with its fundamental technologies providing advanced trading services, market data, data analytics and market surveillance capabilities.

Meanwhile, in late 2023 an announcement was made about shortening the settlement cycle for transactions carried out on the QSE from three working days to two working days. The adjustment reduces the risk incurred by investors from the longer settlement period. While the new rule was originally slated for a January 2024 rollout, the actual first day of trading under the new regime took place two months later on March 25, 2024.

QSE Performance

In its latest annual report for 2022 the QFMA announced that the QSE had attracted QR15.8bn ($4.3bn) of foreign investment that year, represented as foreigners’ net purchase of listed securities. Furthermore, total trading value for the year surpassed QR160bn ($43.9bn), 42% higher than the QR112bn ($30.7bn) trading value witnessed in 2021.

New Listings

Three new listings arrived on the QSE main market in 2023, in addition to Al Mahhar Holding’s listing on the QEVM. These four listings matched the total number of listings in the previous six years combined. The new listings carried a total market capitalisation of around QR25bn ($6.9bn) at the time of flotation. One of the QSE’s main market listings saw the country’s first initial public offering (IPO) in around three years, with IT and data centre service provider Meeza floating on the exchange on August 23, 2023. By November 2023 the IPO had raised a reported $193m. The other three companies that listed on the markets in 2023 – Al Mahar, Beema and Dukhan Bank– opted for direct listings rather than IPOs.

Global and local economic shocks and headwinds are visible in stock exchange-index movement, and the economic disruption caused by the pandemic in 2020 caused both the QE Index and the QE Total Return Index to drop to lows of -20.4% and -1.5%, respectively, measured against the baseline year of 2014. From that point, both underwent robust periods of growth and recovery, with the second half of 2022 seeing the QE Index peak at 21.8% above the 2014 baseline and the Total Return Index at 74.7%. Growth had moderated somewhat by the first quarter of 2024, with the latest available index readings in early February 2024 measuring -9.4% below the 2014 baseline in the case of the QE Index, carrying a value of 10,109.86, and 36.1% above for the Total Return Index, with a value of 21,697.18.

At that same time, four sector indices were outperforming the All Share Index, which stood at 3404. Those four sectors were: consumer goods and services (7196), transport (4411.15), banks and financial services (4230.77) and industrial (3857.54).

The QE Al Rayan Islamic Index followed a similar pattern during that period. Initially, both the Price Return and Total Return Indices decreased to -28.5% and -3.1%, respectively below the 2014 baseline following the onset of the pandemic. Subsequently, there was notable growth, peaking in the second half of 2022 at 19.8% for price returns and 74.9% for total returns. However, growth moderated afterwards, with price returns declining to -9% and total returns settling at 39.3% by early February 2024. At that time, the Price Returns Index carried a value of 2239.67 and the Total Return Index stood at 4481.52.

Debt Market

Qatar’s gross public debt has seen a significant reduction in recent years, dropping from 72.6% of GDP in 2020 to 41.4% of GDP in 2023, according to the IMF. This result has been facilitated by robust hydrocarbons prices and Qatar’s status as the world’s largest exporter of natural gas, enabling the government to pay down debt. Concurrently, government net lending and borrowing increased from 1.3% of GDP in 2020 and peaked at 13.5% in 2022, before dipping slightly to 10.8% of GDP in 2023.

The Qatari government issues both treasury bills (T-bills) and treasury bonds (T-bonds) through the QCB, with sukuk (Islamic bond) versions of each also offered. T-bills are offered at a discount compared to the price they return to investors at maturity, with the maturity cycle never exceeding one year. Unlike T-bills, T-bonds earn investors periodic dividends during their maturity cycle, which always exceeds one year, and is usually much longer, while full repayment of face value is issued to investors at maturity.

As of February 2024 there was around QR138.7bn ($38.1bn) worth of government bonds in circulation in the country, according to the QCB. That figure is comprised of various instruments: T-bonds account for an estimated QR66.4bn ($18.2bn), or 47.9% of the total. They carry terms of three, five, seven, eight or 10 years, with interest rates ranging between 2% and 4.5%. Long-term government sukuk, which are offered with the same terms and interest rates, account for roughly QR50bn ($13.7bn), or 36% of the total. In addition, T-bills and short-term sukuk account for a combined QR22.3bn ($6.1bn), which is equal to 16.1% of the total amount of bonds in circulation, with terms ranging from three months to one year, and interest between 5.75% and 6%.