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Qatar has recently become a mid-sized foreign aid donor, comparable in size to New Zealand and Portugal, thanks to its expanding Gross National Income based on gas exports. It is exploring how to institutionalize its assistance to improve effectiveness.

While there have been many studies of the effectiveness of aid from member countries of the OECD, aid from other donors, and specifically Arab aid, has been less well studied. Most commentaries on Arab aid are based on qualitative information because there is insufficient data for empirical analysis. Qatar has, however, started to publish aggregate information on its aid. This, along with more disaggregated data provided for the study by the international cooperation directorate in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, permits for the first time a quantitative exploration of the allocation of Qatari aid between 2010 and 2012.

Compared to other donors, Qatar provides a high share of its aid as humanitarian assistance but very little aid through multilateral global or regional multilateral channels. At a time when other Arab countries have also stepped up aid, it would be useful to assess whether strengthened collaboration, along the lines of the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD, would be helpful.

This paper finds evidence that Qatar responds to U.N. humanitarian appeals in Arab countries, and has been effective in ensuring that it is a significant donor in partner countries, avoiding the trap of becoming spread too thinly. Qatar also concentrates its aid in neighboring countries. There is no evidence Qatar uses aid to reward allies as proxied by voting similarity at the United Nations.