Qatar entered the 21st century under a cloud of uncertainty. Despite the large sums of money that have entered the government's coffers from the sale of oil in the last 50 years, decades of government overspending and misuse have created serious financial constraints, mainly large foreign debt and recurring budget deficits. Despite the government's attempts to address these 2 problems by diversifying the country's economic base and introducing reform, Qatar's dependence on oil and the government's large role in the economy have meant that economic performance will continue to fluctuate according to oil prices. As a result, economic performance will be best when oil prices are high.
Given the structure of the economy, the government is expected to proceed with the "Qatarization" of its labor force. The government is also expected to forge ahead with the economic reform program started in 1997, which will seek to increase the role of the private sector, and to push for the privatization of more state-owned enterprises. Given that Qatar's budgetary problems are unlikely to be resolved until revenue from the sale of liquid natural gas exports begins to flow, the government will have no choice but to proceed with the promised democratization process and to engage the population politically to deflect the potentially disruptive impact of declining conditions. Political participation will engage citizens in the decision-making process by allowing them to elect their representatives through a popular vote, hence reducing the perception among the largest proportion of Qataris that they are outside the political process.