Dubai: Prices of petrol and diesel rose by more than 25 per cent yesterday in Qatar. The new prices are one Qatari riyal (Dh1.10) per litre for super 97 octane, while premium petrol is 0.85 riyal a litre. Diesel, on the other hand, will cost one riyal per litre and kerosene's price have been jacked up to 0.80 riyal a litre, according to Qatari English daily The Peninsula.

The new rates went into effect yesterday, and the notice dated January 22, written in Arabic, said the prices of all petroleum products were being increased as of January 23.

The new rates are applicable to private as well as government owned filling stations. What surprised many was the fact that government offices were closed on the weekend, yet the decision was taken and a notice was issued and dated on the weekend.

The notification was received by stations at 10.30pm on Saturday, three hours before it took effect. "We are shocked by the sudden increase," said a Qatari motorist who had driven into a Woqood filling station on Saturday. However, as the news spread and people began sending SMS messages to friends and relatives, more motorists could be seen at several filling stations filling up before the new rates took effect, reported The Peninsula.

Petroleum products are subsidised by the Qatari government and despite the increase, refined products like petrol, diesel and kerosene remain cheaper than in the rest of the world and even some neighbouring Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states.


Qatari motorist Abdul Rahman Al Haidoos said the petrol price hike was not a good sign, and another Qatari said petrol prices should not have been raised, especially when the prices of almost everything are going up. "I had never dreamt this would happen," said Haithem Fares, a Jordanian who was driving an eight-cylinder pickup, quoted by the newspaper

Social websites were abuzz with the news with people, particularly citizens posting comments. No one seemed to approve the move and they were surprised by Woqood's (Qatar Fuel Company) decision since it is a public shareholding company largely owned by the state.

"If a state backed company raises prices of basic products like petroleum with such suddenness and by a hefty 25 per cent, what happens to private companies that supply basic foodstuffs and services?" some people asked. "We were actually waiting for some generous gesture from the government after the Kuwaiti government recently announced free food for 14 months and monetary gifts for its citizens, but what happened here is just the reverse. It's shocking," said a commentator quoted by the newspaper.

Some posted comments saying they would drive their cars to filling stations in nearby Saudi Arabia to get their tanks filled.

According to The Peninsula some analysts said although petrol prices are not as significant an issue in Qatar as in some oil importing countries, the hike here would definitely force companies to pass on the burden to end-users.

"This is sure to increase the inflationary pressure," said an official of a company, agreeing that his staff transport costs could go up and they might pass on the burden to consumers. An official of a shopping complex said commodity prices were unlikely to be impacted since household expenses for fuel don't work out to much compared to rent or food.

But motorists said their budgets would definitely be negatively impacted and added they feared the petrol price hike might lead to further inflation.