Qatar, ranked by Forbes in the top 40 best countries for business, is fast becoming one of the best places to expand your business.
To set up in Qatar, there are several key stages to be considered in developing a successful entry strategy to include; in-depth market research, developing a business plan, determining the right commercial structure, understanding the laws & regulations and finally considering implications of VAT.
In Qatar there are few legal company formation options including the Free Zones which makes the decision process much simpler than in many other GCC countries.
What is a Free Zone?
Free zones are designated areas whereby foreign companies can set up businesses, assuring them of a certain degree of autonomy over their enterprise. Free zones are common in Gulf countries and are often grouped for specific industries, such as media or technology.
What is the benefit of establishing my company in a Free Zone?
The core advantage of establishing a free zone is 100% foreign ownership. Whilst this is key, there are limitations in accessing the free zones in Qatar and the success of your application will depend on your business activities. There may also be restrictions on where you can operate from and where/whom in Qatar you can conduct business with.
Top 5 things to consider before choosing a free zone:
- Purpose of the company / business activities
- Lease facility requirements
- Number of Visa (s) required
- Budget for setting-up
Qatar free zones include:
Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP)
QSTP is a high-tech business park that offers state-of-the-art offices and facilities specifically designed for technology-based companies. QTSP is a part of Qatar Foundation and aims to be the international hub for scientific and technology innovation, tech-based entrepreneurship and high-tech businesses. QSTP portfolio includes the Innovation Centre, Tech Buildings and Single User Buildings. The type of companies that QSTP offer tenancy to include new start-ups, existing SMEs, local and multinational corporations, research institutes, public sector agencies and professional service firms that serve QSTP and its residents companies. www.qstp.org.qa/free-zone/
Qatar Financial Centre (QFC)
The Qatar Financial Centre is a global business and financial centre. Its onshore platform provides opportunities to expand to and from the Middle East. The QFC was intended to provide an environment
solely to attract international and domestic financial services institutions and service providers in support of those institutions. However, the QFC now accepts applications for business registration from other types of service providers which are not associated with the financial services sector, for example, in the fields of management consultancy, recruitment, sports and entertainment.
The QFC aims to operate to international standards and provides a legal and business infrastructure for those doing business within the centre. This process is started by completing an application to enter QFC, after which they review and determine whether the business is a strategic fit. www.qfc.qa/en/Pages/default.aspx
Do I need to consider corporation tax in a Qatar Free Zone?
To date there are only the two afore-mentioned free zones in Qatar so if your business activity falls outside of these markets you will typically be required to set up a Limited Liability Company. Qatar offers a compelling tax environment in which both free zone and LLC’s benefit from a flat rate 10% corporate tax on net profit, no personal income tax and currently no VAT which helps to position Qatar as an ideal destination for direct foreign investment.
Kat Milano is the Business Development at Venture Partner Qatar. For further information on free zones in Qatar or consultancy on setting up a Limited Liability Company in Qatar, please contact Kat on: