Transparency International

This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from one of Transparency International’s national chapters. The Anti-Corruption Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International and funded by the European Union

Query

Please provide an overview of corruption and anti-corruption in Qatar.

Summary

While petty corruption in Qatar is not a widespread issue, the country has few checks and balances able to exercise oversight over the country’s leadership. Power is heavily concentrated in the emir, and the ruling family has monopolised most important policy areas and posts in the country. At the top, there are few integrity mechanisms to ensure that narrow interests do not drive public policy or exert undue influence over state functions.  

In practice, opaque budgeting processes allow state elites free reign to arbitrarily allocate state revenues off the budget, which creates a series of corruption risks. The use of personal, clientelistic networks to obtain rents or contracts from the state is also believed by analysts to be common practice. In addition, despite the fact that Qatar’s wealth affords its citizens a relatively high quality of life, they enjoy only limited civic and political rights.

Contents

  1. Background
  2. Extent of corruption
  3. Forms of corruption
  4. Sectors vulnerable to corruption
  5. Anti-corruption framework
  6. Stakeholders

Main points

  • Qatar has comparatively low levels of corruption by regional standards. However, it is far from immune to corruption. Powerful patronage networks rooted in the royal family continue to wield control over state resources with little transparency or accountability.
  • In recent years, the government of Qatar has introduced legislation to address many of the previous gaps. For instance, Qatar has taken steps to improve its public procurement practices, its money-laundering framework and has promised to reform the sponsorship system.
  • Nonetheless, substantial issues remain. Few steps have been taken to limit discretionary spending, and national integrity systems do not operate independently of political interests.

Caveat

Where systemic checks and balances in the form of transparent and accountable public institutions are absent, control of corruption is largely dependent on the political will of incumbent leaders. Literature reviews indicate that in environments with restricted civil and political rights such as Qatar, anti-corruption strategies are less sustainable as they are unable to draw on the full range of anti-corruption measures, many of which rely on the participation of non-state actors (Kukutschka 2018). As such, any improvements in reducing corruption in these settings are contingent on the caprice of a few individuals, meaning progress in clamping down on malfeasance is likely to prove fragmentary, short-lived and volatile (Transparency International 2019).

Authors

Mathias Bak, tihelpdesk@transparency.org

Reviewers:

Marwa Fatafta and Matthew Jenkins, Transparency International

Date

23/01/2020

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