Starting a business in Qatar

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Starting a business in Qatar

Qatar, the country and the economy: Some formalities, ideas and plan are taken starting a business in Qatar as foreigner. Qatar the investment friendly country in the Middle East,  ranked 74th currently out of 119 countries of the world in the Ease by the World Bank, a 21 point up from 2016 [83rd]. Oil & Gas are the two mainstays of Qatari economy. More than 70% of total government earnings and 60% of the gross domestic products [GDP] is generating from the Oil & Gas. These two natural resources sharing almost 85 percent of Qatar’s export basket. The currency is Qatari Riyal. One US Dollar equals to 3.67 Qatari Riyal. The bustling metropolis Doha is the capital on the Doha bay. The peninsular Arabian nation of 4,468 mi² area  with Gross Domestic Product [GDP] per capita of USD 59,330.86, it is one of the six members GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council ] country with 2.57 million inhabitants.

Rankings, favorable 

Index Rank in 2017 Rank in 2016
Overall 83 74
Starting  Business 91 112
Dealing with construction permits 21 19
Getting Electricity 44 42
Registering Property 26 27
Getting Credit 139 134
Paying Taxes 1 1

Business registration

Setting up a Company Qatar Middle East & North Africa [MENA]
Numbers of procedures 8 7.9
Days required 8.5 20.20

Country comparison for Corporate taxation

Functions QATAR MENA** USA Germany
Number of payment of taxes per year 4.0 17.8 10.6 9.0
Hours required for administrative formalities 41.0 208.2 175.0 218.0
Total share of taxes  [% of profit] 11.3 32.3 44.0 48.9
** MENA. Middle east and North Africa

Source: World Bank

In the 2016 Mercer Cost of living index [Mercer is the leading provider of data on the cost of living and housing for employees working in abroad], Doha was in 69th position out of 207 cities of the world. It now ranks 81st out of 209 cities. This indicates a lowering of the cost of living in significance. Indeed, the living costs in Qatar are much softer than the neighboring UAE [United Arab Emirates].

The country consecutively well placed itself in the 2nd position of the third Global Infrastructure Investment Index 2016, following Singapore out of 41 world’s nations.

Rankings, not-favorable

The Corruption perception Index 2016 of Transparency International ranks Qatar 31st out of 176 countries of the world.

Business’s advantage

Find advantage before starting a business in Qatar as foreigner. Investors from around the world consider Qatar as hotspot owing to its friendly and rich business infrastructure. With a population of 2.57 million consisting mainly of expats, the procedures of doing business in Qatar often depend on who is being dealt with. Qatar aims to become a leading country in terms of its business and investment environment. The investment inflows into Qatar have generally followed an upward trend in the past several years, crediting   the country’s political stability, a stable currency in terms with the U.S. dollar, high-quality infrastructure facilities and one of the lowest corporate tax rates of 10% in the world.

The new Commercial Companies Law [CCL, 11/2015] of the land withdrew the mandatory local ownership of 51% in the equity. The foreign investors now could own as high as 100% in an entity engaged in the field of IT [information technology], Agriculture, Tourism, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Education etc.  In addition, work conditions of foreign workers in the country saw an improvement in 2015.

Qatar has an efficient transport system that helps businesses move faster and with speed. The demands and supplies of the utilities are well balanced.

To providing the foreign investors with additional incentives in line with the provisions of the Law #34 of 2005, Qatar has set up tax free zones like the Qatar Financial Center [QFC] and Qatar Science & Technology Park [QSTP].

Business’s Disadvantages

Disadvantages have to keep in mind before/ after starting a business in Qatar as foreigner. The challenges Qatar faces in smoothing the business environment mostly relating to legal and human resources management aspects. The attitudes and the very nature of the government machinery in running the day to day businesses are also to be blamed for the negative points. Well, language also works here as a barrier obstructing bridging in between expats and the locals. Although the government at Doha softens the investment laws, the bureaucracy and the corruptions are preventing it from working. In most of the cases, Qatari state machinery puts weight on the price factor than the quality while deciding on purchasing or procurement. The Qatari Riyal [QAR] is tied to the United States’ dollars. Whenever the dollars get strong Qatar becomes an expensive market.

In spite of some improvements in recent times, the overall working conditions and the relationships between employer/sponsor and employee is to be healthy to prosper. Traditionally family groups are here inefficient but dominating. Employees are here yet be reasonably valued to encouraging inspirations and flair instead of judging them simply a working tool. This phenomenon is turning the otherwise an efficient and productive pool of employees into an unhappy and frustrated workforce.

Majority of the workforce is expats and the costs of rents here in Qatar is really too high for them to adjust with.

Businesses are to form with an equity ratio of 51/49. Since the Qatari gets the lion share in the business, finds him in the driving seat to control the entity. If the local partner is inept and dishonest than the interests of the foreign partners are at risk.

The provision for preferential treatments to Qatari job seekers is another point that rising the eye-brows of the investors here. Employers are seeking to hire expats are subject to obtaining prior permission from the government authority and is a job with a lot of hassles.

Well, the weight of advantages are yet heavier and its gets heavier day by day with the improvements and developments in action as Qatar aims at creating a sustainable economy and improve the standard of living of its people by 2030. Among the GCC countries, Qatar still maintains a smooth and healthy economic development.

Qatar-S & F Consulting Firm Limited

Office 05 Floor 05 New Taif Building Near Muglina Health Center
Dhoha 37550
Phone: +601131234372
Secondary phone: +601126901890


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S & F CONSULTING FIRM LIMITED is a global business consulting firm. Services are: (1) Foreign company registration, formation, setup (2) Income tax (3) Accounting (4) Audit (5) Business advisory. Since 2012, we are providing professional services to the foreign investors. We try to develop our self everyday to satisfy honorable customers.


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