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Investment in Qatar

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Qatar is one of the fast-growing regional economies and among the most promising globally, maintaining balanced growth rates despite various global challenges. Over the past few years, the State has succeeded in consolidating Qatar’s position on the global economic map under the guidance of His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. Qatar is currently pursuing its journey towards establishing a diversified, competitive and knowledge-based economy in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030.

Qatar’s economic policies have provided support for various sectors and bolstered their contribution to economic growth, thus strengthening and enhancing investor confidence in the national economy. Qatar has been keen on developing a promising investment environment in priority sectors of the national economy, supported by an administrative and legislative system conducive to doing business and an appropriate legislative framework for business development and investments.

The State is seeking to ratify laws that allow foreign investors to implement fully-owned investment projects in various sectors, The state has also developed an investor-friendly business environment, through the launch of several initiatives, including the creation of a single window for investor services, providing advanced electronic services for business incorporation, identifying and streamlining procedures for licensing the construction of business centers, issuing business licenses and offering incentives to foreign investors.

Qatar’s adoption of an open and diversified economy has contributed to bolstering its investment environment through the launch of major projects that reflect the success ​​of public-private partnerships and provide promising investment opportunities in the logistics, food security, education, health, tourism and sports sectors.

Investment Incentives

  • Non-Qatari Investors may be exempted from the income tax for a period up to ten years
  • Non-Qatari investors may be exempted from customs on the imports of necessary machinery and equipment.
  • A land can be allocated for a foreign investment project by way of a renewable rent for a long renewable period of not more than 50 years.
  • Non-Qatari investors in the industrial field may be exempted from customs fees on imports of raw materials or half manufactured goods necessary for production and not available in the local market

General Privileges

  • Non-Qatari investors maybe importing duties on necessary machinery and equipment.
  • Non-Qatari investors shall be entitled to conduct private money transfers pertaining to their investments from abroad into the State of Qatar.
  • These transfers can be conducted in any convertible currency, at the exchange rate applicable on the date of conversion.
  • Non-Qatari investment, direct or indirect, shall not be subject to expropriation or any equivalent act according to the Law No. 13 of 2000 regulating the investment of foreign capital in economic activity
  • Non-Qatari investors are entitled to transfer the ownership of an investment to another non-Qatari or national investor.

Investment Sectors

  • Energy
  • Tourism
  • Information technology
  • Consultancy & Technical Services
  • Industrial
  • Development & exploitation of natural resources
  • Education
  • Agriculture
  • Distribution
  • Health
  • Mining
  • Sports, Recreational, and Cultural Services

Savings account investments in Qatar

Expats in Qatar are served by a range of retail banks offering current, savings, and deposit accounts. These include the International Bank of QatarCommercial Bank of QatarAl Khalij Commercial BankQatar Islamic BankMasraf Al RayanMashreqHSBCAhli BankBarwa Bank, and Doha Bank. Visit Yalla Compare to view account features, eligibility criteria, profit rates, bank charges, and account opening procedures.

Investing in Qatar

Pensions investments in Qatar

Expats are not entitled to Qatari state pensions. However, some employers in the country offer corporate pension schemes for expats. The type of plan varies, though, depending on whether the employer is a multinational or a Qatari company.

Many expats choose to invest in a private pension plan while they are in Qatar. Above all, the things to consider when looking into setting up a private pension plan include:

  • when you aim to retire;
  • how much you need to save to retire at that age;
  • the type of retirement lifestyle you want;
  • where you want to retire;
  • whether you have major expenses on the horizon;
  • how inheritance laws might affect retirement plans.

Property investments in Qatar

A combination of year-round sunshine, good food, miles of beaches, high living standards, and tax-free salaries make Doha (and Qatar in general) a desirable place. And, if you’re planning on being there for a few years, it might make sense to buy a place to live in or rent out.

Housing in Qatar

It is a buyers’ market right now – Doha isn’t the boomtown it was. House prices, which were through the roof during the mid-decade peak, have tumbled 10% since June 2017. As a result, rents have fallen by a fifth in that time. And with new housing coming onto the market in 2020, prices could fall further.

However, as a buyer, there are reasons to be cheerful. The 2022 football World Cup should create a welcome (though possibly brief) spike. Furthermore, the recent opening of the first phase of the new Doha Metro in 2019 could also support prices by boosting the economy. In addition, there is an expanding tourism industry to consider – think Airbnb for your investment property.

Where to buy property in Qatar

The number of property purchase transactions rose 20% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2019, too. Resident expats and foreign investors can buy freehold villas and apartments in designated areas. These include The Pearl Qatar (peer out of the plane window as you land at Doha airport and you might just catch a glimpse of the swanky development); West Bay Lagoon (known for its grand waterfront pads); Lusail City (where you’ll be literally on the doorstep of the World Cup final in 2022); and Al Khor (a peaceful spot 50km north of Doha). You won’t get much change out of $500,000 for an average three-bedroom apartment on The Pearl. However, prices are lower in Lusail and Al Khor. Meanwhile, beachfront villas at West Bay Lagoon run into the millions.

The city of Lusail
The city of Lusail

Property Finder is a great resource for information on these districts. The government recently opened up new areas for expats to buy freehold property; Doha Municipality can advise where.

Getting a mortgage in Qatar

As a result of increasing property investment opportunities, Qatar’s expat mortgage market is competitive. Currently, the banks which lend to expats include Qatar Islamic BankMashreqCommercial Bank of QatarMasraf Al Rayan and HSBC.

The formalities of investing in property in Qatar may be different from those many expats are used to. It is therefore advised to engage a reputable estate agent and lawyer to help navigate the process. They should assist, for example, with drafting a purchase agreement and registering at the Ministry of Justice’s Real Estate Registration Department; registration cost is 0.25% of the total property price. Once the Property Title is in hand, it will need to go to the ministry’s Lease Registration Office if the property is to be rented. It is important to bear in mind that documentation will be in Arabic.

Business investments in Qatar

Qatar’s new foreign investment law is a game-changer because it allows non-Qataris to assume 100% ownership of a business in any sector; except banking, insurance, commercial agency activities, security, and defense. Furthermore, the world’s 28th-freest economy is being prised open for foreign investors, in line with Qatar National Vision 2030, the country’s long-term development plan.

Business in Qatar

While the new foreign investment law gives no specifics on incentives for foreign investors, it at least makes investing in Qatar easier. The Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MOIC) states that “investments may be undertaken after submitting a request to the competent department, which processes the application within 15 days.”

The MOIC website is a useful starting point for investors; however, some choose to hire a corporate services agent to liaise with the government departments. Tailored information for foreign investors is available on the Qatar Investment Portal, as well as general information on setting up a Qatari company. Types of Qatari company include:

  • Limited Liability Company (LLC): a minimum of two shareholders. Minimum start-up capital QR200,000.
  • Shareholding Company: capital is divided into tradable shares that are equal in value.

For foreign companies looking to carry out work in Qatar, the law stipulates that the contract must be executed through a local branch office. In addition, the branch must have a commercial license before signing the contract.

Investment funds in Qatar

According to Investopedia, an investment fund is defined as “a supply of capital belonging to numerous investors used to collectively purchase securities; while each investor retains ownership and control of his own shares.” An investment fund provides a broader selection of investment opportunities, greater management expertise, and lower investment fees than investors might be able to obtain on their own, it adds. Types of investment funds available to foreign investors and expats in Qatar include mutual funds and equity funds.

Qatari riyal

Qatar National Bank’s (QNB) Al Watani equity fund is available to resident expats and non-resident foreign nationals. The minimum investment is QR20,000. Commercial Bank of Qatar offers a range of mutual funds from various asset management companies/fund houses. Investment levels start at QR10,000. Doha Bank offers a systematic investment plan; meanwhile, HSBC Qatar offers emerging market equities, developed market equities, fixed income, and alternatives to expats resident in Qatar who already have an HSBC bank account.

Investing in stocks and shares in Qatar

Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE) is the world’s 33rd largest by market capitalization; bigger than its regional rival Dubai, which is 42nd. Expats and foreign nationals can invest on the QSE, but only via a broker. The broker acts as an intermediary for all trading and brokerage transactions. There are currently 11 brokerages licensed to do this in Qatar. In addition, foreign investors must be registered at Qatar Central Securities Depository before trading on the exchange. Once registered, you will get an Investor Card (with National Identification Number), after which shares can be bought and sold. Non-Qatari investors can own up to 49% of the share capital of a QSE-listed company.

Offshore investments in Qatar

Unlike some other international jurisdictions, Qatar does not offer any kind of ‘offshore’ investment vehicle to investors.

Tax on investments in Qatar

There is no personal income tax in Qatar. In addition, only business income is taxable; and at the rate of 10%. Furthermore, there is no capital gains tax on the disposal of real estate and securities by an individual. Leasing property is considered a business activity and rental income is taxed at 10%. There are no property taxes. Qatar is expected to introduce a 5% value-added tax (VAT) in early 2020. Deloitte provides a really good overview of the tax system in Qatar.

How to invest wisely in Qatar

Investing in Qatar may be different – in terms of prospects, procedures, and profits – to what you are used to. However, the same basic principles apply. In conclusion, the factors to consider when investing in Qatar include:

  • What investment opportunities are available as a foreigner or resident expat;
  • How stable the regulations are around foreign investment in Qatar;
  • What levels of protection foreign investors receive in Qatar;
  • If there are any incentives to attract foreign investment (e.g., loans, subsidies);
  • How the regional geopolitical situation could affect Qatar’s economy;
  • If the country is politically stable;
  • If the currency is stable;
  • How developed the banking and financial system is

The bottom line is – do your homework, and engage with people on the ground who can give accurate, impartial advice.

Investment advise in Qatar

The first port of call for most foreign investors is the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, which offers advice, services, and the Qatar Investment Portal. Above all, it is advisable to hire a local lawyer to guide you through the processes of investing in Qatar.

Useful resources

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