A key starting point for those seeking to do business in Qatar is to understand the regulations that govern foreign investments. Law No. 13 of 2000 (“the Foreign Investment Law”) and the amendment made to it in 2010 (Law No. 1 of 2010) stipulates that foreign investment can be made in most sectors in Qatar provided that a legal presence is registered in Qatar. If that legal presence is a company, at least 51% of its shareholding must generally be held by a Qatari partner (i.e. a Qatari national or a Qatar company wholly owned by a Qatari national). Note that profit shares do not necessarily have to be proportionate to equity holding.
The main options available to foreign investors seeking to set up a legal presence in Qatar are:
- Project or contract specific (temporary) branch in the State of Qatar
- Permanent branch in the State of Qatar.
- Incorporated Joint Venture (i.e.51%/49% With Limited Liability Company) in the State of Qatar
- Representative Trade Office (RTO) in the State of Qatar
- An entity in the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC)
- An entity in the Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP).
Note that the information in this brief summary addresses only some of the principal elements of doing business in Qatar and we advise anyone who intends to establish a corporate presence in Qatar to obtain advice specific to their business.
Also, it is worth noting that Qatar’s market is dynamic, and the rules and procedures for doing business in the State are constantly evolving. Due to the changing landscape, it is essential to seek professional advice when evaluating the market.