Demonstrating the State of Qatar’s desire to develop and enhance its entire legislative regime, enactment of new laws and amendment of existing legislation, to attract foreign investment to meet the country’s highly dynamic, competitive and rapidly growing economic activities, has been a recurring theme in the country. In particular, new laws have been enacted to develop, amend and enhance substantial and fundamental aspects of laws related to economic activity such as, but not limited to, consumer protection (Law No. (8) of 2008 regarding Consumer Protection), commercial registration (Law No. (20) of 2014 regarding Commercial Registry); civil and commercial procedures (Law No. (3) of 2019 amending the law No.(13) of 1990 regarding Civil and Commercial Procedures); Taxation (Law No. (25) of 2018 Selective Tax Law); and Law No. (1) of 2019 regarding Investment of Non- Qatari Capital in Economic Activity (“Investment of Non- Qatari Capital Law”).
The Investment of Non-Qatari Capital Law came into effect at the beginning of 2019 to encourage and attract non- Qatari capital investment in the State of Qatar, supported by unprecedented incentives including allowing Non- Qatari nationals (and wholly owned foreign entities) to own up to 100% of their businesses in the State of Qatar, eliminating the need to have a local Qatari partner.
What should you know about Investment of Non-Qatari Capital Law?
Investment of Non- Qatari Capital Law allows non-Qatari entities and individuals to own up to 100% in any economic activity which includes, but is not limited to, commercial companies (except public joint stock companies).
Since the absolute foreign ownership of business is considered an exception to the general rule provided under the Commercial Companies Law No. (11) of 2015 which stipulates that Qatari ownership percentage shall not be less than 51%, an approval is required to be obtained from the Ministry of Industry and Trade to approve the foreign ownership percentage if it shall exceed 49% of a company’s paid up capital. For approval to be granted, an application should be submitted to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
Areas of Prohibition
Despite the fact that Investment of Non-Qatari Capital Law allows non-Qatari investor to own up to 100% of a company’s paid up capital, it excludes certain commercial activities and/ or business structures from the scope of this rule and prohibits the full foreign ownership in the following activities and/ or business structure:
- (1) Banks;
- (2) Insurance companies;
- (3) Agencies;
- (4) Joint Stock Companies;
- (5) Companies established by government;
- (6) State-owned entities;
- (7) Companies in which the government owns at least 51% of its share capital;
- (8) Companies authorised by QP to perform discovery operations; and
- (9) Any other activities as may be determined by the Council of Ministers.
Settling of Disputes
Investment of Non- Qatari Capital Law also provides for enabling the non–Qatari investor to agree on settling any disputes with the Qatari partner through arbitration, with the exception of employment disputes, which shall be solved through the dispute resolution mechanism set out in Qatar’s Labour Law.
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