Your Guide to Starting a Business in Qatar

Starting a business in Qatar may seem to be a long and complicated process but with correct information and guidance, one can easily start a business in Qatar. With the discovery of the third-largest gas reserve in the world, Qatar has become one of the fastest-growing economies. The abundance of natural resources combined with positive economic and business reforms has made Qatar one of the sought-after business destinations in the world. The country has improved its position in the ‘Ease of doing business index’ year on year, paving the way for international businesses to extend their branch offices in the region. In this blog you will find every piece of information you need to set up and launch your business in Qatar.

How to start a business in Qatar

A. Get a Commercial Residence (CR)
The CR is the first piece of document you need to acquire. It is issued by the Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC), and it’s usually the quickest one to get. This document helps the business entity to open a corporate bank account, accept invoice payments, buy company assets etc. To obtain the CR, one needs to go through the following steps:

Step 1- Trade Name
Get the Trade Name of your business- It is to be kept in mind that it should be a unique name. Also note that, if your desired name does not have any meaning in Arabic, you will have to pay an extra QAR 1,000.

Step 2- Article of Association
Get the Trade Name of your business- It is to be kept in mind that it should be a unique name. Also note that, if your desired name does not have any meaning in Arabic, you will have to pay an extra QAR 1,000.

B. Trade License
After receiving your CR, you need to get a Trade License in order to have an office space that’s approved by the MEC for conducting your business activities. The first step is to fill out the requisite application form from the MEC website and submit it to the MEC, along with the following documents:

• ID card of the authorised person in the business
• Copy of the CR
• Copy of AOA
• Photo of the office building that highlights the office address
• Building completion certificate and ID of the   building owner
• Rental acknowledgement, ownership instrument and Civil Defense approval.
• Authorization letter in real estate rents (in case of subcontracts).

C. Computer Card
The next step is to collect the computer Card issued by the immigration. It is a document that states who is signing on behalf of your company. The following documents should be submitted to obtain a computer card:

• Copy of CR
• Copy of Trade License
• ID copies of all the shareholders
• ID copies of individuals who need to be on the Computer Card

Where should you open your business In Qatar
There are multiple options to choose from. jurisdictions to form a business in Qatar; this is broken into 4 free zones as well as the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, similar to the mainland jurisdictions in the UAE.

1. Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI)
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry is responsible for overseeing commercial and industrial activities for the state of Qatar. To set up a company in the MCI requires a 51% local Qatari sponsor and mandatory office space with a flexi-desk as a minimum. The MCI is dedicated towards companies requiring trading activities, office space availability anywhere in Qatar, specific business activities that require external approvals (such as taxi services, as an example), organizing of work with banking & government sectors etc.

The three free zones of Qatar are-

1. Qatar Free Zone
A) Qatar Free Zones are made up of two free zones and come under the Qatar Free Zone Authority. Ras Bufontas, the airport free zone, is connected to the award-winning Hamad International Airport, and Umm Al Houl, the sea port free zone, sits next to the world’s newest greenfield deep-seaport. The Ras Bufontas has dedicates areas for particular industries, allowing for optimal cluster growth and perfectly tailored infrastructure and facilities. The key areas of focus include- Emerging tech, Aviation & Business, Light manufacturing.

B) The Umm Alhoul, provides an optimal location for industries which benefit from access to sea freight and shipping routes. The zones have been designed to incorporate additional smart technologies including smart waste bins, intelligent street lighting, addressable advertising panels and more. MARSA is a new maritime cluster in Qatar’s Umm Alhoul free zone, strategically located adjacent to Hamad Port, the world’s largest greenfield seaport, and only 20 minutes from Doha city center. Key focus areas are- Heavy Manufacturing , Industrial sectors , Emerging tech, Logistics hub, Downstream petrochemical, Maritime industries & services

2. Qatar Financial Center
The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) is an onshore business and financial centre located in Doha. A world-class platform for companies, QFC offers its own legal, regulatory, tax and business environment, contributing to the decisive economic development and diversification prescribed by Qatar National Vision 2030. QFC allows up to 100% foreign ownership, 100% repatriation of profits, and charges a competitive rate of 10% corporate tax on locally sourced profits, all while integrating businesses into Qatar’s swift expansion into a major trade and investment centre.

3. Qatar Science and Technology Park
Situated in Qatar’s Foundation Education City, this technology park was established in 2009 with an aim to provide a home to technology-based firms. This zone comes with a lot of incentives that meets the expectations of the business entities. Some of the renowned companies that bask in its zone hold Microsoft, Shell, and GE etc. This free zone completely concentrates on the technology domain to give an emerging platform to the business entities.
Key areas of focus
• Technology developments
• Education and training
• New business development
• Research and Development etc

The legal structures for businesses in Qatar

According to Commercial Companies Law N.5 (2002), a company must have its headquarters in Qatar. Generally, the following types of companies can operate in Qatar:

1. Joint Company
This business is composed of two types of partners: 1) the joint partners, allowed to administer the affairs of the company, and responsible for the company’s liabilities; and 2) the trustee partners, who contribute to the company’s capital (their responsibilities are limited to the value of their shares in the capital). The minimum financial investment for this company is QAR 200,000.

2. Equities Partnership Company
An equities partnership company comprises two teams: the first with one or more partners jointly responsible for the company debts in all their assets; and the second includes shareholders.

3. Limited Partnership Company
This company is composed of two or more natural people from Qatar who are personally and jointly responsible for the debt of the entity. Foreign ownership is restricted to 49%. There is no minimum financial investment required.

4. Limited Liability Company
This structure includes a minimum of two and a maximum of fifty partners, whose responsibilities are limited to the value of the company’s shares held. Foreign shareholders are allowed to hire management and hold a limited liability company. The minimum capital required is QAR 200,000.

5. Shareholding Company
This company is formed through a shareholding arrangement, which must be approved by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry before the company is established. The number of shareholders should be at least five, and all of them must be Qataris. In addition, an elected board of directors will be responsible for managing the shareholding company. The capital should not be less than QAR 10,000,000.

6. Particular Partnership Company
A partnership company comprises two or more partners responsible for the liabilities of the company. All joint partners should be Qataris, and every partner has the power to hold commercial meetings and businesses under the name of the company. It is mandatory to first get approval before proceeding with any investment.

7. Freelancer or self-employed
If you wish to be self-employed in Qatar, you must ask a company to sponsor you. It is important to note that you shouldn’t travel to Qatar to find temporary or casual work. Short-term contracts can be signed by a sponsor, however, independent freelancing is illegal. It is against the law to do any kind of paid work in Qatar without a permit from the Ministry of Labour. Sponsorship can be provided by a legally registered company or by an individual; you can approach a company as a self-employed person working as a sub-contractor.

Start your business in Qatar with Creative Zone Qatar

Creative Zone Qatar corporate services is Qatar’s most trusted business solutions providers in the country. We facilitate a portfolio of services ranging from business incorporations, Licenses issuance, corporate PRO Services, Local sponsorship, T&A solutions, visa services and much more. We excel in deploying solutions that best match our customer needs simplifying their business setup, whether they only want a visa, just want us to setup their business, or are looking for long-term business support, Creative Zone Qatar is the most reliable partner to guide you through out this journey.