Jan. 25, 2016

HE Dr. Saleh bin Mohammed Al-Nabit


HE Dr. Saleh bin Mohammed Al-Nabit

Minister of Dev. Planning and Statistics, Qatar

"Lower oil prices have accentuated the challenges and have given even greater urgency to action."


On June 2013, HE Dr. Saleh bin Mohammed Al-Nabit was appointed as the Minister of Development Planning and Statistics. Since June 2011, HE Dr Saleh bin Al-Nabit was the Secretary-General for the General Secretariat for Development Planning (GSDP). Before being appointed as Secretary-General, he served as the Director of the Institutional Development at the General Secretariat for Development Planning from 2008 to 2011. Academically, Dr. Saleh received his PhD in Development Economics from the University of Bradford, UK. He received his MBA from the University of St. Louis in the US, and Postgraduate diploma in Research Methods, University of Bradford. He taught economic curricula at the University of St. Louis and the University of Bradford between 1995 and 2001, and at Qatar University until 2008. Dr. Saleh received his Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Qatar University. Having graduated from the university, Dr Saleh Al-Nabit worked for a brief period for Qatar Central Bank. In 1993, he worked in the Department of Economics at Qatar University, where he taught many economic curricula. He was named as board member in the department and the college. In addition, he chaired many academic and scientific committees at Qatar University.

With Qatar's five-year National Development Strategy coming to an end in 2016, what have been some of the major end results?

While the strategy process and implementation should be seen as continuous and will stretch beyond 2016, many of the major reforms now underway were identified. These include changes in the fiscal process, efforts toward reducing subsidies and increasing efficiency, the introduction of a national health insurance scheme, infrastructure planning, and a national R&D effort. Beneficial outcomes from these efforts are expected in the years ahead. One of the MDPS' most remarkable achievements in 2015 was the Simplified Census of Population, Housing, and Establishments, which was conducted in cooperation with the Ministry of Municipality Urban Planning and intends to provide a proper database to carry out comparisons, projections of demographic data, and the community's social, economic, and urban characteristics. The results of this Census were announced on October 20, 2015, during the celebration of World Statistics Day. That celebration was in line with the request of the UN General Assembly, which adopted October 20, 2015 as World Statistics Day under the slogan “Better Data, Better Lives," emphasizing the importance of statistical data as inputs in the formulation and follow-up of sustainable development strategies in order to achieve the national development goals. One of the other key achievements by MDPS was the election of the State of Qatar as a member of the Statistical Commission and the UN Commission on Population and Development to represent the Asia-Pacific Group for the 2016-2019 term, which came to crown the efforts exerted by Qatar in the fields of statistics, population, and development issues, and the continuous and effective coordination between MDPS and all the concerned parties. This achievement came in recognition by the Asia-Pacific Group of Qatar's role in the development and modernization of statistical systems and the activation of population and development issues at the national, continental, and global levels. Furthermore, MDPS has made great strides in the use of administrative records in statistical process, which will in turn enable MDPS to produce timely, reliable, accurate, and cost-effective statistical data on economic, social, and environmental phenomena. MDPS further follows up on the work of the International Working Group on indicators of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Global Development. As the development and execution of medium and long-term development plans require the provision of timely, reliable, and accurate information and statistics, MDPS continues to assure a quantitative and qualitative leap in statistical products related to data users' needs. Currently, there is an integrated official calendar for all types of statistics that shows clearly the increased frequency and timely pattern of releasing of statistical information compared to what has been the case in the past.

How does Qatar formulate broad sweeping plans like the National Development Strategy or the Qatar National Vision 2030 in a way that global macroeconomic forces, like the recent financial crisis or drop in oil prices, do not affect the goals or outcome of these strategies?

Of course, it is not possible to predict the future precisely, and all strategies are formulated and implemented under conditions of uncertainty. But in formulating a strategy it is important to identify risk factors and to consider how the strategy can be adapted to changing circumstances. In fact, the National Development Strategy 2011-16 advocated many of the changes that are now in process, at a time when oil prices were high. The newly drafted financial system (2015) is one example. It supports budget reforms and ensures that government spending delivers value for money. But lower oil prices have accentuated the challenges and have given even greater urgency to action, while the core of the strategy is not changed—a core that gives primacy to sustainability and ensures that prosperity today is not bought at the expense of the welfare of future generations. Also, we have taken careful note of the lessons learned from the preparation and implementation of our first National Development strategy, with the midterm review emphasizing the need to link the strategy and budget process much more closely.

In what ways does MDPS gauge the success of Qatar's development strategies?

MDPS looks at a broad raft of indicators in assessing how the strategy is progressing. Some of these indicators are produced by third parties, such as the World Bank and UN Organizations, while others are the product of the statistical director at MDPS. In the development of the next strategy, one thing that we will be working toward is the creation of a “dashboard" of metrics that will be available to the leadership of the country, and to all ministries and agencies, so that progress can be tracked, and follow-up has been initiated in areas where it is needed.

Looking forward, what challenges or obstacles do you foresee in Qatar achieving the objectives of the Qatar National Vision 2030?

One of the key challenges facing Qatar National Vision 2030 is to develop the second generation national strategy for the development of Statistics (NSOS), and to provide indicators required for monitoring progress in project implementation and for evaluating project outputs, thus enabling decision makers to propose and introduce necessary interventions in order to creatively achieve NDS goals. In addition, the challenges that were first identified in Qatar National Vision 2030 are still to be fully met. But that is expected, as they are intrinsically long-term development challenges. There are many areas where Qatar will continue to expend efforts to improve and do better—in healthcare and in education outcomes, for example. Fiscally, we need to calibrate our sights conservatively so that we will provide adequate funds for the future. Efforts to support and encourage the private sector to play a larger role in the economy will need to be redoubled. And there is still much to do on the environmental front. But progress is being made and we are learning from our experience so that the pace of progress may accelerate in the future.

What are your expectations for the year ahead?

It will be a busy year for MDPS. For much of the year we will be heavily involved in coordination and leading the preparation of the second National Development Strategy 2017-2022. This exercise will be inclusive and will stretch across the whole government and also involve non-government actors in a consultative capacity. The second NDS will provide an opportunity to re-examine what we have achieved, to build on lessons learned from the first strategy and to re-prioritize in the light of new developments.