Qatar Financial Centre to ease foreign investment rules

14 November 2015, Bachir El Nakib (CAMS) Senior Consultant Compliance Alert LLC

The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) will simplify procedures for foreign investors and give them more access to the local market through a new law to be passed in 2016, Reuters said13 Nov 2015

Yousuf al-Jaida, the centre's chief executive told reporters that a new QFC law "will be given birth to in the first quarter of next year. The new law addresses access to the market", Reuters said.

Located in Doha, the centre has its own legal and tax infrastructure which allows 100% foreign ownership and repatriation of profits.

The new law will help companies to list shares in Qatar, give more access to bond issues and ease other financial transactions, Jaida told Reuters.

"If a company has a dispute, which law applies, Arabic law or English company law? If you go to the state they say state laws apply, if you go to QFC they say QFC laws apply. This has to be addressed. Hopefully this will solve the entire issue of contradictions. If we want more direct investment and better stability, we're going to need to do this as soon as possible to allow freedom of movement, greater freedom of investment in the country,"Jaida said.

The QFC has licensed 62 companies this year, a 35% increase in the number of licensed firms, Jaida told Reuters.

Low oil prices have increased Qatar's efforts to expand other sectors, which has been to the benefit of the QFC, Jaida said."There's a phrase in Arabic, 'one person's calamity is another person's benefit'. To be honest, it's been beneficial, because we have a lot more support from the government to go ahead and attract international companies. In the past there's always been some resistance from the local community - today the entire government supports us and our mandate is more meaningful," he said, according to Reuters. 

The QFC is an onshore business and financial centre located in Doha, providing a platform for firms to incorporate and do business within the State of Qatar and the region. The QFC environment offers its own legal, regulatory, tax and business infrastructure, which allows 100% foreign ownership, 100% repatriation of profits and charges a competitive rate of 10% Corporate Tax on locally sourced profits.

The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) Special Company Regulations cover the establishment, regulation and operation of Holding Companies and Special Purpose Companies. These regulations have opened up the opportunity to establish a whole range of business supportive entities that previously were not considered possible in Qatar. Indeed many of these entities that were previously incorporated overseas are now being on-shored back to Qatar, benefitting Qatar and enabling better control over their operation.

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