DOHA // Qatar will raise the salaries of government employees next year in a rare spending increase by a Gulf country at a time when low oil and gas prices are weighing on state finances.

Some Qataris’ basic salaries will double, under a law to be passed in January that was published in Al Sharq newspaper on Sunday.

Salaries for non-Qataris will remain the same.

qatar airways

Qatar is the wealthiest country in the world per capita and its roughly 300,000 citizens enjoy free health care and education.

But plummeting energy prices since mid-2014 have forced the country to rein in public spending at a time when it is funding a US$200 billion (Dh734bn) infrastructure upgrade for the 2022 soccer World Cup.

State subsidies have been slashed and jobs cut at state institutions, including more than 1,000 foreign workers let go last year at Qatar Petroleum.

Cutbacks have hit Qatar’s vast migrant workforce the hardest but locals have also been affected.

On Monday, Qataris on social media applauded the law as supporting citizens through difficult economic times.

Saudi Arabia in September cut ministers’ salaries by 20 per cent in one of the most drastic measures yet by the kingdom, which racked up a record budget deficit of nearly $100bn last year.

In 2011, Qatar raised state employees’ salaries by 60 per cent after Arab Spring protests spread across the region.

* Reuters