Qatar has the highest per capita income in the world, but has only attained this status in the last few years. The population of Qatar is approximately three million, with only 12% being Qatari nationals. Qatar is an attractive market for companies looking to expand into this region of the world. In this blog, I will highlight important considerations for anyone planning to do business in Qatar.
Arabic Language Requirements
Arabic is the official language of Qatar. The Arabic dialect spoken in Qatar is called Gulf Arabic or Khaliji.
Due to the number of expatriates and the English language slowly overtaking, there are now laws in place to protect the Arabic language in Qatar. One new requirement is that all international company names must have the Arabic translation written next to it. Other requirements include:
- Retail outlets should always have at least one Arabic speaker.
- Menus, signs, invoices, advertisements and general information should be written in Arabic.
- Business meetings and documents should be primarily conducted and written in Arabic when dealing with governmental institutions.
Top Industries and Economic Growth
In the 1800’s, Qatar was famous for its pearl hunting. In the early 1900’s, the pearl industry crashed leaving Qatar as one of the poorest countries in the world. In the 1940’s oil was discovered and since then the gas and oil reserves have been the 3rd largest in the world.
With the quickly expanding population and economical growth over the last 10 years, there has been a huge investment in the transportation industry. The development of roads has been extremely important to the government, with the Doha Expressway and the Qatar Bahrain Causeway, which will connect Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The Doha Metro is developing to ease road traffic and the airport is expanding to deal with traffic. With Qatar hosting the World Cup in 2022 there will be a significant impact on its economic growth.
Qatar has some interesting statistics. It has an economic freedom score of 72.6, making it the 28th freest economy in the world. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Qatar was worth 192 billion US dollars in 2018.
Business Regulations in Qatar
There are many benefits to having a business located in Qatar, including little to no taxes, which is an extremely attractive benefit for an employee and a business. However, like every country there are laws and regulations for doing business.
It is advisable to seek legal advice for starting a business in Qatar, some of the main laws for global business are as follows:
- Law No. 22 of 2004 – Civil Code Law
- Law No. 5 of 2002 – Commercial Companies Law
- Law No. 13 of 2009 – Foreign Investment Law
- Law No. 25 of 2004 – Proxy Law
- Law No. 8 of 2002 – Commercial Agency Law
- Law No. 21 of 2009 – 2009 Tax Law
In addition to the laws, there are three types of documentation that need to be applied for to open and operate a fully functional company.
1) Commercial Residence, which consists of trade name, articles of incorporation and the issuance of the Commercial Residence. With your Commercial Residence you can have a bank account, invoice customers and own assets, however you cannot have an office space or hire anyone. After receiving your Commercial Residence, you must then get a Trade License.
2) A Trade License will allow you to have an office. You will need several documents for this, please visit the Ministry of Commerce and Industry website to review required documents and submit them.
3) Your Computer Card will allow you to hire full time employees. You will need an official company stamp prior to doing this. Once you have a company stamp, apply for a Computer Card at the Immigration and Passport Control Office.
Article 4 of Labour Law No.14 of 2004, is a law that protects workers, which consists of working hours, maternity leave, termination, wages and procedures that protects both employee and employer.
Sponsorship is common in Doha, when a person holds a sponsorship you are not allowed to work for another employer without permission or leave the country without a No Objection Certificate from the employer. If you do not follow this rule, the individual will be banned from entering Qatar for two years. As mentioned above, it is important to have all documentation and contracts, in Arabic, according to the (Law No 7 of 2019).
There are many advantages of having a business in Qatar. English is the most widely spoken language and it is a centralized location from most of the world’s business capitals. Qatar is extremely economically stable, with a modern, fast growing and diverse economy. The government supports infrastructure and related projects in business and is dedicated to continued economic growth.