Qatar's Foreign Aid
Qatar is one of the world’s wealthiest counties, and by some metrics, the wealthiest. Even more so than its fellow petroleum-exporting neighbors, Qatar is an indisputable giant in the oil industry, holding 13% of the world’s global oil supply. The nation’s vast wealth, compounded by its population of only about 3 million, contributes to the Qatari citizens’ notably high quality of life, as seen in Qatar’s minuscule unemployment rate of 0.4% and its population life expectancy of 79.4 years in comparison to the global average of 71 years. The small nation’s close proximity to poorer regions and conflict areas make it a highly capable potential distributor of much needed foreign aid. Qatar has an interesting variety of causes and countries to which it has supplied considerable development assistance, but the country’s massive wealth elicits the possibility of an expanded foreign aid budget. Here is some information about Qatar’s foreign aid.

Regional Development Cooperation

Qatar’s foreign aid record tells the story of a nation devoting most of its foreign development cooperation to its more poverty-stricken neighbors, including Morocco, Yemen, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza Strip region and Egypt. Funding went mostly into sectors such as construction and infrastructure. Unfortunately, the latest foreign aid report by the Qatari government was released in 2013, but the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates a total foreign aid contribution of $1.3 billion that year alone.

After the summer of 2014, which significantly elevated conflicts between Israel and Gaza, nations including Qatar, the U.S., the U.K. and other Gulf states made foreign aid contributions to Gaza, with Qatar’s being the largest with a pledge of $1 billion. Qatar’s massive donation evolved into a cash distribution program to tens of thousands of family-specific beneficiaries.

Qatari aid in Syria has had an impact on both financial and political levels; Qatar has donated more than $1.6 billion in humanitarian aid for conflict victims as well as vocally called for the removal of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

Contributions to Wealthier Nations

Beyond regular contributions to the surrounding economies of Qatar, the small but financially prosperous nation has given considerable aid to wealthier countries in times of crisis. In 2011, the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami hit Japan and caused $360 billion in damage and took nearly 16,000 lives. Along with a substantive monetary donation, Qatar was the host of a multinational football match to raise funds for Japan in the wake of the disaster. The relief aid went mostly to infrastructural projects and the purchase and transportation of natural gases to refill Japan’s national stores.

The Potential for More

As stated earlier, Qatar’s foreign aid comprised of $1.3 billion in 2013. While this is the latest official report and one that the Qatari government published on its own, Qatar has also worked in a partnership with the OECD to publicize and account for its development aid activity. As per the website for Qatar’s own Department of International Cooperation, one of the departments’ many functions includes participation in the “development of the state policy in the field of aid and developmental and humanitarian assistance” and supporting “economic and social development in developing countries.”

However, despite any prioritization of international development cooperation within the department, one can easily determine that Qatar operates far below its capabilities in terms of being a prominent source of foreign aid. Compare Qatar to the United States, which has a population of about 330 million – 110 times larger than Qatar’s population of about 3 million – and a foreign aid budget of a little under $40 billion. Factoring in the nation’s smaller population and its prosperous financial stature, Qatar is more than capable of being one of the world’s largest contributors to international development cooperation.

Stirling MacDougall
Photo: Flickr

Worst Tsunamis in modern history
Tsunamis have existed on Earth for as long as there have been oceans. A tsunami is a series of ocean waves that the displacement of water triggers, whether it be by landslide, volcanic eruption or earthquake. The word “tsunami” comes from two Japanese words, “tsu” meaning harbor and “nami” meaning wave. There have been a countless number of tsunamis on the planet. These are the five worst tsunamis in modern history.

5 Worst Tsunamis in Modern History

  1. The Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004: On the morning of December 26, 2004, an underwater earthquake with a magnitude of 9.1 triggered a massive tsunami that swept across the Indian Ocean. The tsunami first struck Indonesia followed by Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, South Africa and 11 other countries in a matter of hours. With some waves ascending over 100 feet, this tsunami has the highest recorded death toll with over 230,000 lives. Estimates determined that the material losses from the immense destruction were about $10 billion. There was also long-term environmental damage, displacing hundreds of thousands of people as the tsunami destroyed villages, resorts, farmland and fishing grounds. Prior to this tsunami, there were no proper preparations and communication strategies in the Indian Ocean for these types of disasters. Since then, scientists have prioritized improving the understanding of tsunamis and altered the way research and preparations are conducted. Of the five worst tsunamis, this one is the deadliest of them all.
  2. The Messina Earthquake and Tsunami in 1908: Southern Italy suffered devastation from both an earthquake and a tsunami in the early morning of December 28, 1908. The 7.5-magnitude earthquake and tsunami almost completely destroyed Messina and several coastal towns in both Italy and Sicily. This disaster claimed at least 80,000 lives and forced thousands more to flee. Even 100 years later, scientists still struggle with the origins of the earthquake and the tsunami. A recent study in 2019 has finally found the fault responsible for the earthquake in the Mediterranean. The combined force of the earthquake and the tsunami makes this disaster one of the five worst tsunamis in modern history.
  3. The Valdivia Earthquake and Tsunami in 1960: The most powerful earthquake in recorded history occurred on May 22, 1960, off the southern coast of Chile. The 9.5-magnitude earthquake arrived with a Pacific-wide tsunami with waves as high as 80 feet. The earthquake and tsunami claimed 1,655 lives, injured 3,000 and left two million homeless in Chile. The tsunami swept across the ocean, resulting in millions of dollars in damages in Hawaii and killing people in Japan and the Philippines. Estimates determined damages in Chile alone to be about $550 million. This disaster is significant because it was the largest earthquake ever recorded and caused the first global tsunami. This tsunami left no corner of the Pacific Ocean untouched, leaving devastation in its wake and making it one of the five worst tsunamis in modern history.
  4. The Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011: One of the worst disasters in Japanese history is the earthquake and tsunami that struck the Tohoku region in Japan on March 11, 2011. The earthquake had a magnitude of 9.0 and a series of waves followed, reaching as high as 132 feet. This disaster claimed over 15,500 lives and left more than 450,000 people homeless. The damages to infrastructure from this event were far greater than any other tsunami in modern history. People estimated that the material losses were $300 billion and the tsunami also resulted in a level seven nuclear meltdown and release of radioactive materials at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. Six million Japanese households were without electricity and one million were without running water. About 270,000 people had to evacuate due to the nuclear emergency. While the cleanup was still ongoing, the radiation levels dropped faster than people expected and people deemed some areas to be habitable again.
  5. The Sunda Strait Tsunami in 2018: The Sundra Strait Tsunami occurred on December 23, 2018. This is the third major tsunami to originate in this area, the first being in 1883 and the second in 2004. This tsunami came with no warning even though the area previously endured two of the worst tsunamis in modern history. At least 373 people died with reports of hundreds more missing and the displacement of almost 2,000 people. While the rest of the list dwarfs this number, what makes this tsunami one of the worst is the fact that the death toll could have been less had people put the proper preparations in place. People only found out that volcanic activity by Anak Krakatoa caused the tsunami after the fact. However, the tsunami warning system was flawed, as its design was only to detect seismic activity, not volcanic, which allowed for this tsunami to come by surprise.

When one imagines the five worst tsunamis in modern history, it suggests that these are the largest or deadliest tsunamis. While most of these tsunamis are among the deadliest, what makes them the worst is that they came when people least expected them. However, each one of these tragedies posed a lesson that allows people to take better preventive measures to save as many lives as possible.

– Emily Young
Photo: Flickr