Business during Ramadan in Qatar

Business during Ramadan in Qatar

Business during Ramadan in Qatar

In the days leading up to Ramadan, millions of Muslims across the globe have been physically, mentally and spiritually for this month of abstaining, giving and reconnecting with friends and family, both near and far.

With the first day of Ramadan expected to begin on May 16th (dependent on the sighting of the crescent moon), it is important to understand that Ramadan will have an impact on both business owners and expatriates living and working within Qatar. It is therefore imperative for companies and employers to be well informed on etiquette as well as potential opportunities and challenges during the month ahead.

For some businesses, Ramadan is anticipated to be a much busier month with retail sales peaking across most categories and in turn, some advertising spends reaching annual peak. For others, the month may be slightly slower for business with reduced working hours, particularly across the public sector.

Key considerations for the month of Ramadan

Business Working Hours
It is reported that the working hours during the holy month of Ramadan for ministries, government sector and public bodies and institutions are from 9am – 2pm. This was announced by Minister of Justice and Acting Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs H E Dr Hassan Lahdan Saqr Al Hassan Al Mohannadi, on May 10th, 2018. In addition, The Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs (MADLSA) has advised companies to reduce working hours to six hours per day during the holy month of Ramadan, following the provisions of the Labor Law.

The Working Day and Considerations for Employers
It is advisable for employers to adopt a Ramadan policy to consider consuming food and drinks in communal areas in offices as well as to schedule meetings in the morning to ensure fasting colleagues can attend. It should be ensured that all employees are dressed conservatively throughout Ramadan.

Qatar Market Sales
During Ramadan, friends and family connect and celebrate, going out to eat and shop during the evenings. Therefore, this month is peak for retailers with sales increasing across many categories including food and drink, clothing and apparel, gifts, electronics and homeware. Almost all shops will have extended opening hours in the evenings and restaurants are expected to be busy. There is a trend for new retail companies to open ahead of Ramadan so that they can benefit from the height of consumerism in the region.

Company CSR Campaigns
Giving and charity is particularly important during Ramadan and therefore, many companies will launch specific CSR campaigns to support a variety of causes. This is a great opportunity to get involved and give back to the community.

Media Landscape
Facebook research shows every day during Ramadan in MENA, people spend 1.92M incremental hours on Facebook with 86% of people in the Middle East celebrating Ramadan on the platform. This is a particularly important for companies to note for gifting and online shopping opportunities.

Mobile shopping significantly increases throughout the night with the usage of Facebook rising by 200% between 2am – 5am with 4.84% more conversions on mobile at 4am compared to non-Ramadan months.

Research shows social conversation around TV programs throughout the evenings, which offers marketing opportunities to tap into relevant cultural moments. Other areas of interest across social media channels are food, travel and fashion. It is therefore key for relevant businesses to plan their social media strategies to increase consideration and purchase intent.

This surge in media consumption online also opens doors for PR agencies as well as media agencies to win new business and further drive sales for clients across the month of Ramadan.

For further information on conducting business during Ramadan in Qatar, setting up a company in Qatar or any other queries, please contact us on +974 4478 8765 or info@vpqatar.com

Further information – What is Ramadan and Eid Al Fitr?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic year and it is observed for one lunar month. Ramadan begins when a new moon is sighted by Islamic scholars, and therefore, cannot be precisely dated in advance. Ramadan marks a period of fasting from sunrise to sunset and religious focus for millions of Muslims across the globe. Generosity and giving to good causes or neighbours is encouraged and the period is a time for reflection, self-restraint and generosity. The end of Ramadan is followed by Eid Al Fitr, a two-day celebration which denotes the beginning of a new month, marked as a national holiday in Qatar and all other Islamic countries.

E Commerce business in Qatar E Commerce business Doha Qatar

E-Commerce business in Qatar

7 Top Tips for E Commerce Trading in Qatar

Adoption of e-commerce has not yet been fully embraced in Qatar, the chance to get ahead of the competition is now. With a favourable environment of high disposable income and a connected community the Qatari e-commerce market allows for significant growth and opportunity. Here’s our top tips to help you develop a competitive and successful online presence:

  1. Firstly, ensure that your paperwork is in order and that you are operating legally. If you have a company in Qatar you will need to ensure that you have added ‘e-commerce’ as an activity to your Commercial Registration before you start trading online. If you are unsure how to do this use a professional PRO service to help you. www.vpqatar.com/contact-us
  2. Use the resources available to you by reviewing the Ministry of Transport and Communications e-Commerce information portal and handy roadmap guide: www.ecommerceqatar.qa
  3. Don’t get lost in the crowd, secure yourself a .qa domain name. Your Domain Name is your online identity. It helps connect you or your company to the world and using a Qatar domain shows you are uniquely Qatar! Check to see if your domain name is available now www.domains.qa
  4. Use a secure payment portal such as QPAY and Blockchain Innovation. Your ecommerce site should feel credible and trustworthy. Luckily a new innovation, QPAY-SECURE, which is due to launch in March which will enable banks and financial institutions to provide the highest security in payment processing. Using this payment processing system banks can trace transactions and fund transfers whether Business to Business (B2B) or Business to Consumer (B2C). Find out more: www.qpay.com.qa
  5. Ensure your online storefront is designed to be user friendly. The fastest way to lose a customer? A website that makes it difficult to find what they are looking for. Yes, it is important to have a visually appealing website but much more than that is to consider the ‘customer journey’. Your website needs to have a clear structure so that people can quickly find exactly what they want – the easier they can find what they are looking for the more likely they are to buy.
  6. Create a seamless user experience. Can you view the website on your phone, your tablet and your PC? It is critical that your website is mobile compatible. Consider how quickly your site will load and how both text and images will appear on a smaller screen. Today’s consumers are spending more time than ever before on mobile devices using smartphones and tablets to search, review and purchase products.
  7. Position your business on different social media platforms. Qatar has strong online communities, many people engage with these to connect, share information and interact with each other. Using a combination of platforms to promote your product or service might be slightly more work but gives you a competitive advantage. Being on about 2-4 social networks is often manageable. Try to connect with online influencers who may give your company, product or service a good review or #shoutout.

If you haven’t started your business yet please come and speak to us about company formation, sponsorship and PRO services. I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Email: kat@vpqatar.com

What does the draft law on non-Qatari investment mean for you

Foreign Investment

What does the draft law on non-Qatari investment mean for you?

Recently the Cabinet approved a draft law regulating and welcoming non-Qatari investments in all sectors of the economy, including the fields of banking and insurance (subject to a decision from the Council of Ministers), but excluding commercial agencies and real estate.

Should this law be implemented, benefits for the foreign investor, will mean that approved non-Qatari projects shall be exempt from income tax. They will also be exempt from custom duties on imports of machinery and equipment required for establishment of the business; and exempt from custom duties on imports of raw materials for production (which are not available in local markets), in accordance with local legislation and laws.

There may be opportunities for 100% foreign owned companies, however these will be subject to stringent assessment and economic demand from the Qatari Government. Most new foreign businesses investing 100% of the share capital will still need to comply with the current procedures for company formation, which for both services and trading is usually to open a Limited Liability Company (LLC).

The Ministry of Economy and Commerce has prepared this draft law with the aim of attracting foreign investment and to continue the drive of economic development and confidence within the country. The government will favour companies with a local presence when awarding contracts and has resolved to proceed with regulatory reforms and incentives to encourage inward invest.

If you interested in doing business in Qatar please get in touch with our team. We will find the most suitable vehicle for your company and guide you through the formation of your business.

You can also download our free business guide from here FREE GUIDE

Opportunity in the Face of Adversity Qatar

Opportunity in the Face of Adversity

On the 5th of June 2017 Qatar was pushed to the forefront of the political arena when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and others, cut diplomatic relations with the emirate.

The State of Qatar, an independent sovereignty has since sought a diplomatic resolution through dialogue, however with no obvious resolution in sight, one may ask, “Is now a good time to do business in Qatar?”.

Absolutely, despite the ongoing regional uncertainty, Qatar undoubtedly remains open for business.

Qatar, the richest country in the world (with a GDP per Capita of USD 146,000) did suffer a temporary readjustment period following the announcement of the blockade, however the country rapidly returned to normal with the introduction of new supply routes. Alternative supply chains prevented displacement of activity in key sectors. The economy has shown great resilience over the last 6 months. In fact, for some the siege has inadvertently acted as a ‘market disruptor’ enabling opportunity in the face of adversity – a wakeup call for the entire country. New markets and job opportunities have been created internally, both private and public sectors united and are coming together to encourage self-sufficiency. Equally the global market has become more attractive to Qataris as they seek to resource products and services through new international business and relationships from over 80 countries. Statistics from the Fitch Group forecasts Qatari real GDP to expand by 1.9% this year and 2.5% in 2018, from an estimated 2.2% in 2016.

Qatar National Vision 2030 which aims at diversifying income and reducing reliance on energy as a single source of income, is a driving force behind much of the country’s strategic investment plans but the bloc has given the country a significant push in the right direction. Hamad Port, the largest in the Middle East, opened in June and has played a key role in overriding border issues; food security initiatives have been strengthened to include 500 agricultural greenhouses for year-round farming; the import of 4,000 cows to mark the launch of a new dairy industry; and work is underway on a QAR 1.6 billion poultry farm. There has also been continued growth in construction and this looks set to remain a key driver of growth as projects linked to the 2022 FIFA World Cup progress. With liberalised permanent residency laws and visa requirements for visitors, Qatar is clearly stating its position to cement and build new relationships in the wake of the loss of personal relationships from its Arab neighbours.

Recent international reports have praised the Qatari government’s actions in order to create a balance in its financial and monetary policies and diversify its economic base. Strong areas of opportunity for building business with Qatar now lie in the food, health, tourism and construction sectors. A four-day exhibition beginning on December 14 at the Doha Exhibition & Convection Centre (DECC) will see the participation of more than 300 local companies. The ‘Made in Qatar’ exhibition will provide local companies with great opportunity to exchange expertise with international counterparts.

If you are interested in finding out more about doing business in Qatar and you are looking to set up a company, please get in touch and we will advise you on the necessary next steps.
Kat Milano: kat@vpqatar.com | www.vpqatar.com
For export opportunities from the UK please check: opportunities.export.gov.uk

Understanding Arab culture and etiquette when doing business in Qatar

Arab Cultural and Business Etiquette in Qatar

An awareness of Arab culture and the business etiquette of the Middle East are essential to successful professional interactions in Qatar. An understanding of culturally appropriate business and personal behaviour could not only help avoid an embarrassing faux pas or, worse, giving unintended offence, but will also smooth businesses dealings. Dale Ashford of Venture Partner Qatar shares some pointers for your initial contact with local business people in Qatar.

Establishing a relationship is vital
Personal relationships are the foundation of a successful business association in Qatar. When starting a business or even conducting research into a business opportunity, personal contact and face-to-face communication is key. Far more can be achieved through a personal meeting than over the phone or via email. Wherever possible try to set up a face to face meeting and get to know the person first, before discussing business.

Tapping into the networks of Qatar are important to accessing a particular business or industry. Often employing a local contact or consultant can put you in contact with the right person and save you significant time, effort and money.

The development of trust and rapport with local business contacts takes time and should be factored into your business planning.

The Business week in Qatar
In Qatar, the working week runs from Sunday to Thursday with many organisations operating on Saturday. Government offices usually open Sunday to Thursday from 6.00am until 2.00pm but it is a good idea to look up each business or government entity on line or call them to check. During Ramadan, business and government offices working hours will be considerably shorter by at least two hours, government offices are normally three hours shorter.

Punctuality is appreciated but may not be reciprocated. As a sign of respect to your host make sure you turn up to meetings on time but your local counterpart may be half an hour or more late. It is best to anticipate this and schedule extra time for meetings as they may start late, run longer than expected and be interrupted. This is not a lack of respect, just a different cultural norm.

Language and business cards
Arabic is the official language of Qatar, although English is widely used in business and socially. Out of courtesy, it would be wise to get your business cards printed in both Arabic and English and check that all words and images on your card translate well to Arabic without giving offence.

While most business correspondence is in English, Arabic is sometimes preferred, especially in the public sector. Sourcing a translator or being accompanied by someone who speaks Arabic is advised, your local embassy and local contacts are a good place to start.

Greetings
Each person in a business meeting should be greeted individually, starting with the most senior person first. A handshake is the most common form of greeting. Wait for a local woman to extend her hand first as conservative women may choose not to shake hands. If, eventually, you become very well acquainted with your host, the more traditional greeting is touching of cheeks three times, it signifies a kiss but normally there is no kiss, or touching noses three times.

Arabic phrases
Learning a few phrases in Arabic will be welcomed and appreciated. Being able to say Salam (commonly used as hello but means ‘Peace’) or As Salam Alaikum (Peace be upon you), Marhabba (good day), Ma’a Salama (goodbye – means ‘with peace’) and Shukran (thank you) may surprise and delight your host, as many assume that foreigners will not have learned any Arabic before arriving.

Meeting etiquette
Meetings are an opportunity to build business relationships and trust. Most local business men and women may engage in small talk before a meeting asking about such things as your health and family before the purpose of the meeting is even brought up. It is expected that you will also ask about their family in general terms and having a few anecdotes and questions ready is advised. This part of the meeting is very important as it allows your host to get to know you better, develop a personal relationship and most importantly builds mutual trust.

The most senior person in the room will usually introduce and lead the formal business discussion which may take a more circular route than you are used to. Again, patience is important. Don’t try to rush negotiations and make sure that any feedback is respectfully given as it highly offensive to directly criticise or directly disagree with a local business person and will cause them deep embarrassment. Disagreements may be resolved using a non-confrontational, more subtle approach. Using phrases such as,

“In order to progress it may be better to……’ or
“I believe that in the past …….has worked well and may be our best course to move forward”.

Locals are also unlikely to disagree directly with you so as not to cause you embarrassment. It can therefore be difficult to ascertain where you are in negotiations. It is always best to follow up a meeting with an email to make sure you are all on the same page.

Take multiple copies of all printed material used in the meeting to be passed on to other decision makers in the organisation.

General Etiquette
There are some actions that Qatari people may find distasteful and therefore, they should be avoided if possible, namely; chewing gum during a meeting, particularly if the mouth is open; crossing your legs so that the point and sole of your shoe is facing your host; tattoos are frowned on and should be covered if possible; ladies wearing skirts should be aware of their posture whilst sitting; pointing at your host or anyone else in the meeting; trying to exert too much authority on the meeting; offering anything with your left hand, everything should be received in the right hand and all food and drink should consumed with the right hand. If you have caused offence, the chances are, that you will not know it because your host will be too polite to point it out to you.

Arabic clothing
Business attire is expected and men should wear a suit and tie. Women should dress in a fairly conservative fashion ensuring their shoulders and knees are covered. Your male local hosts will most likely wear their traditional Arab dress. Local women will normally wear an Abaya (a long flowing, normally black, dress over their clothing) and either a part or full head covering. A head covering for women is not expected of foreigners.

Hospitality
Arabs are very hospitable and likely to offer you refreshments, gifts and invitations as a sign of respect. During a meeting, be sure to accept refreshment if offered. If you are invited for a meal, it is polite to accept and then reciprocate the offer. It is usual that the person who has issued the invitation will pay the bill. Certainly, if you host the meeting, refreshments should be offered, this is expected.

An invitation to a local’s home is a great opportunity to build a relationship which can aid your business dealings. A few things to be aware of are:

  • Be on time but don’t expect to eat immediately
  • Take a small gift of appreciation
  • It is normal for men and women to eat separately but not always the case
  • Follow the instructions of your host and watch for signs of custom such as the oldest person in the room sitting and being offered food before the rest of the party
  • Conversations should be polite, stay away from politics and religion and only refer to business if your host does first

How do I get more information?
Venture Partner Qatar help many businesses set up in Qatar and can provide invaluable advice and expertise when navigating Arab culture. For assistance with starting a business in Qatar, or expanding a global company, contact us for further information.

If you would like to speak with Dale from Venture Partner Qatar or one of his team please contact: +974 44788765 or e-mail; dale@vpqatar.com

Starting a Restaurant in Qatar

Starting a Restaurant in Qatar

Qatar is without doubt one of the fastest growing economies in the Middle East, but the restaurant sector in particular has seen tremendous growth over the past few years, specifically in the capital, Doha.

Underpinned by the worldwide ‘foodie’ movement, it’s easy to see why Qatar is an exciting place for hopeful restauranteurs:

  • A thriving and diverse array of customers from every continent of the world: Asia, Europe, The Americas, Australasia and the Middle East.
  • Fast-growing tourism sector.
  • Strong government commitment to growing the economy and GDP.

Before you officially launch a restaurant in Qatar and claim your slice of the excitement, there are 3 all-important steps to take:

1. Establish your Company and obtain a Trade Licence.

The Ministry of Economy and Commerce have no particular restrictions on companies opening to form restaurants, cafeterias or food outlets of any sort, the primary controls come from the local Municipality, when you apply for a Trade Licence.

It is important therefore, to select carefully the premises that you intend to use and ensure that it complies with the following;

  • The location of the restaurant should be suitable for practicing the activity, conforms to the laws of public health, in terms of hygiene, appearance and construction.
  • The interior of the building must be fully tiled, including bathrooms, kitchens and dining areas, where necessary.
  • Compatible with the laws of Civil Defence in terms of fire protection, security and safety system, the interior walls of the building must be fully tiled, including bathrooms, kitchens and dining areas.
  • Kitchen should be in conformity with the laws and standards of public health and municipality
  • Provide hand wash basins and toilets, and must be in accordance with hygiene and public health conditions, and must provide hot and cold water.
  • The workers in the restaurant must be fit and hygienic.
  • Provide refrigerators and food storage to store and save the food in accordance with public health conditions.

A business set up specialist with fully compliant administrative support and PRO Services such as Venture Partner Qatar, will be able to guide you through the licensing processing and assist with compliance, as well as providing secure local partner services.

2. Select the best location for your restaurant

Location is everything when starting a business in Qatar. Even the best restaurant or cafeteria can suffer, due to a poor or uninformed choice of business location. So in Qatar, not only is it important to find the right building, it’s also essential to find the building in the right location.

Consequently, many restaurants opening in Qatar opt to place themselves in one of the many malls opening as this provides a ready source of customers and ample parking. Parking is often an issue in Qatar and the lack of parking could severely affect a restaurant’s chances of success.

Areas frequented by tourists staying in the 5* hotels, can accommodate more luxurious and exotic restaurants.

For example, say you’re looking for “The best place to start a vegetarian restaurant in Qatar”. When making this pivotal decision, you want to ensure the location is not only where your target customers are, but also where your competitors haven’t already saturated the area. Facing this endeavour, it’s incredibly helpful to have assistance from local contacts who can not only share good locations for your restaurant or cafeteria business, but also share which areas in Qatar are under development or ‘up and coming’ and would be worth looking in to.

3. Create your Business Plan

A professional business plan should cover 4 areas:

  • Set clear goals for your restaurant or cafeteria.
  • Ensure every dollar of your capital spend is used wisely to maximising your restaurant business profits.
  • Have a contingency plan to deal with the inevitability of the unforeseen.
  • Protect your business and brand as you advance in the market.

Starting a Limited Liability Company

The only way to set up a restaurant in the Qatar is as an on-shore Limited Liability Company (LLC)

As with many countries in the GCC region, commercial law in the Qatar states that a foreign investor cannot own more than 49% of an LLC, and must partner with one or more Qataris (individual or company), who will therefore own a minimum of 51% of the shares.

One option to eliminate the need to search for the ideal local partner altogether is to establish an LLC with a professional corporate local partnership specialist, such as Venture Partner Qatar. They will ensure that agreements are in place that enable the foreign investor to fully control and manage the business, as well as retain the intellectual property and assets. Venture Partner Qatar also ensure that a penalty free exit/company sale strategy is in place for the foreign investor, should it be required.

Venture Partner Qatar and PRO Partner Group are proud of the award-winning service they offer clients in the formation and support of Qatar and UAE companies.

For further information on how to set up a Restaurant in Qatar and wider Gulf, call a member of the team on:
+974 4478 8765 | info@vpqatar.com.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is due to increase the Hajj quota for first time in years.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is due to increase the Hajj quota for first time in years.

Previously the Hajj visa numbers were low due to years of construction in Makkah. As it comes to an end five years later, Saudi Arabia is now planning to restore quotas in the years to come after King Salman approved a proposal to increase the number of pilgrims, from inside and outside of Saudi Arabia during this year’s Hajj.

A Muslim is required to perform the Pilgrimage at least once in his or her lifetime, this year it will take place at the end of August and the beginning of September.

Saudi has confirmed that all pilgrims arriving in the Kingdom to perform Umrah from different countries in the world, including those from Qatar are welcome, despite the current situation.

The Ministry of Haj and Umrah confirmed that Qatari’s can arrive in the kingdom using any airlines except Qatar Airways.

Over 18,000 applications were made last year, in Qatar, 1,200 of the capped quota applied of which 900 were reserved for nationals only. The number of pilgrims hit a 10-year low in 2016, at 1.86 million compared to the 2.4 million in 2007. The Ministry echoed its earlier statement that from the last Hajj the numbers of visas issued for Umrah stood at 6.7 million, exceeding the numbers from the previous years and making it a record figure.

Those who are not approved after making their application from Doha, are still able to re-apply through their home countries, using the Saudi embassies there. However, if approved the journey would start from their home country and not Qatar.

Flights from Doha should pass through transit stations and arrivals through King Abdul Aziz Airport in Jeddah and Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz in Madinah.

“Regarding Haj, Qataris and those who are living in Qatar with Haj permits issued by the Ministry of Haj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia or the body concerning Hajj affairs in Qatar, and who are registered in the online Haj track, may arrive by air through other airline companies which are selected by the government of Qatar”, this statement was released along with the addition that these airlines are to approved by the general authority for civil aviation, their arrival and departure must be via the airports King Abdul Aziz Airport in Jeddah and Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz in Madinah. Through these airports only, will stamps be acquired.

WANT TO SET UP A BUSINESS IN QATAR HERE ARE SOME TIPS

Want to set up a business in Qatar? Here are some tips!

Ten Top Tips

  1. Understand that the government works in different ways than you are used to. Seek professional advice to guide you through the bureaucracy, legalities and procedures. The process for company formation is complex and can take several months to complete
  2. Familiarise yourself with the business/tourist/work visa regulations. There are different types of tourist visas depending on your nationality. A work visa is also your resident visa. Your employer will obtain your wok visa on your behalf.
  3. The most important factor when looking to setup an LLC company in Qatar is to ensure that you have reliable and secure local partners. They need to be the right partner for your company in terms of understanding the requirements and needs from the ‘Partnership’ We would always recommend that your local partner is a company and not an individual Qatari.
  4. Learn about the culture in Qatar and how business is done locally. The main factor for success is relationship building and learning at least a few words of Arabic is an easy way to demonstrate that a relationship is personally important to you rather than just another business deal. Your effort with be greatly appreciated.
  5. Undertake extensive research into the business sector you wish to operate within. It always pays to do your market research before setting up.
  6. This research should also include what is the best way for your company to incorporate in Qatar. Should it be a Branch office, a Trade Representative Office or a Limited Liability Company.
  7. Make sure you get professional advice on what suits your company the best. Too many companies set up only to find they are not able to trade properly with the Trade Licence they have obtained. Make sure you have the contact details of your local embassy in Qatar. All expatriates should register with their embassy.
  8. Be aware of closure dates and working hours. There are two main religious holidays that differ every year as per the lunar calendar; Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha, during this time the government ministries are closed. Government working hours are from Sunday to Thursday with timings from 7am to 2pm. Private sector working hours are sometimes split shifts, from 8am to 12.30pm and then from 4pm to 7.30pm.
  9. Be flexible and patient. These are the most valuable attributes you can demonstrate throughout your business and social life, living and working in Qatar.
  10. Choose the right way to set up your company in Qatar. Choosing the right type of entity to set up is the most important decision your company will make. Mistakes can be expensive to rectify. You need to ensure you have the right activities for what your company wants to achieve. Should you open as a Branch Office, a Representative Office, or as a Limited Liability Company. Please be aware you can still be 100% foreign owned with an entity. Make sure you are advised well on your options so that you can make an informed decision.

For more information on starting a business in Qatar or if you have a question that you would like answered, call a member of the team on +974 4478 8765, email info@vpqatar.com

Invest in Qatar

The State of Qatar has in recent times become uncertain to some to invest due to the current crisis, with the situation diffusing, the way Qatar has dealt with the situation has nothing but increased the admiration of the country to its citizens. It has not affected its overall affluence and excellent economic growth. Qatar is due to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup and is also implementing a National Vision for 2030 with four pillars of development.

With Qatar Petroleum releasing news of discovering the world’s largest gas field to the North and a mass of national resources, such as oil, gas and other economic sectors. Qatar opens these sectors to foreign investment.

In an additional determination to appeal to foreign investors, Qatar has a lot to offer alongside a great way of life.

Qatar is excelling in all aspects of the economy as said by the World Bank and ranks number 1 against all in Paying Taxes, and number 6 for Starting a Business against the rest of the Middle East & North Africa. It also has strong performance rates in the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2017.

Qatar is a top business location globally with evidence of strong development in the coming years.

For more information on starting a business in Qatar or if you have a question that you would like answered, call a member of the team on +974 4478 8765, email info@vpqatar.com

Local sponsor Local Sponsorship for foreign investors in Qatar

Local Sponsorship for foreign investors in Qatar

In common with much of the GCC, commercial law in Qatar states that a foreign investor cannot establish a mainland business entity without first appointing a local sponsor. The role of this local sponsor varies depending on the structure of the business, and as an inevitable challenge for foreign investors, it is vital to understand the functions of a local sponsor and the impact this has on establishing a business in Qatar.

Why have a local sponsor?

Companies who wish to operate in Qatar are required to have a local sponsor by law. The type of sponsorship available depends on the type of business to be conducted by the company and therefore the legal business structure selected.

Types of sponsorship

There are two sponsorship options for a foreign investor wishing to set up a business in Qatar: individual sponsorship and corporate sponsorship.
Individual sponsorship: As the name suggests, individual sponsorship is simply when an individual Qatari national, or nationals, sponsor your business, and by doing so, hold a 51% share of your company. He or she must be a Qatari citizen over the age of 21, and whilst it is not required that they have any experience within your chosen industry, they will usually be business professionals or government employees. Whilst this might all sound a bit daunting, there are two important points to note at this stage. Firstly, profits do not have to be shared to reflect the percentage shareholding, and in most instances, the local sponsor is paid a set annual fee in exchange for full power of attorney and control over the business activities. Secondly, in holding 51% of the business, the local sponsor also assumes more than half of the liability for the company but this is limited to the amount of 51% of the share capital.

Corporate Sponsorship: The primary difference here compared with an individual sponsor is that the local partner is a 100% Qatari-owned company. This allows for a far more robust governance structure to safeguard foreign investment, allowing issues such as shareholder succession to be dealt with under Company law and typically providing a dedicated team to assist with licence and visa renewals, and any other ad-hoc support required to operate the company. Again, the corporate sponsor will assume a 51% stake in the business, and in exchange for receiving an annual fee it is typical to contractually limit their involvement via a Shareholder Agreement.

Must I have a local sponsor to do business in the Qatar?

One option for companies unwilling to explore sponsorship options is to establish a business within one of the Qatar’s free zones. On the surface, free zones appear to be a way for foreign investors to establish a business in Qatar whilst still retaining 100% ownership. The major drawback to this though is that businesses established in a free zone are limited to the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) and Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP). Both require companies to process license applications for activities specific to each and located within their zones.

Other options, include the opening of a Branch Office in Qatar but this is only applicable when the company has obtained a Government or quasi Government contract and the issuer of the contract supports the opening of a Branch Office. The Branch Office can only service the contract obtained.

A Trade Representative Office, is commonly known as a ‘shop window’, although 100% foreign owned, it can only serve to display goods or services but cannot trade in Qatar.

The Role of Venture Partner Qatar
As a leading company formation specialist, Venture Partner Qatar act as a corporate partner for foreign investors wishing to establish a business in Qatar and assume the role of the 51% Qatari shareholder, allowing foreign investors to retain effective control of their business. Through Venture Partners secure and trusted nominee structure, this model ensures that foreign investors’ interests are protected in accordance with the law.

In the case of establishing a Branch Office or Trade Representative Office, Venture Partner Qatar can be employed as a local agent in order to quickly and efficiently handle all governmental administration requirements, in order to get the Branch Office or Trade Representative Office up and running as soon as possible.

Dale is the Managing Director at Venture Partner Qatar. For any information relating to company set up in Qatar contact Dale on dale@vpqatar.com or call a member of the team on:
T: +974 4478 8765
www.vpqatar.com