A group of experts have called for an independent body to oversee public private partnerships in Qatar to be established. The experts made their call during a seminar on Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) which was hosted by the Qatar Chamber, the Qatar International Centre for Conciliation & Arbitration and the College of Law at Qatar University. The body would serve a similar function to competition commissions in other countries.
The Qatari Interior Ministry has announced the National Address Law (Qatar Law No. 24/2017) will be implemented soon. The Ministry added the relevant procedural and operational steps needed to implement the law have already been completed. The Law is part of an e-Government and digitisation strategy. When it is implemented, nationals and residents will have to register their addresses via the Metrash2 application or at any of the Interior Ministry centres in the country.
Every citizen or expatriate or their legal representatives will have to register their residential address, land telephone number, mobile number, email, employer address for Government and private sector employees and permanent address abroad. The guardians of minors will have to register them and verify the data is correct.
Qatar’s Cabinet has approved a draft law regulating the press, publications, media activities and the arts and referred it to the Shoura Council to consider. If approved it will replace Qatar Law No. 8/1979 on Press and Publication and Qatar Decree-Law No. 16/1993 on Advertising, Public Relations and Artistic Production and Works. In June, the Emir issued a law establishing the Media City which will have its own legal personality and independent budget. The City allows licensed companies to hire their employees, regulate their status and import supplies without having to register them and benefits from with tax exemptions for 20 years.
Qatar’s Cabinet has approved a draft law to replace Qatar Law No. 25/2004 on Combating Concealment of Illegal Commercial, Economic and Professional Practices by Non-Qataris. It applies to those using the name, license or commercial record of another when these activities are for the benefit of an actor’s own account, or in association with others. Anyone violating the law will be jailed for up to one year and/or fined between 20,000 and 500,000 Riyals. In every case, the court will order the confiscation of the property in question or the proceeds from it, taking into consideration the rights of bona fide third parties. The court may also order the revocation of any relevant license, or annul any relevant commercial registration and close premises or suspend activity for up to one year.
Qatar’s Cabinet has approved draft amendments to the Labour Law, Qatar Law No. 14/2004. If approved, labour dispute settlement committees will be established by a Ministerial Decision from the Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs Ministry.
Qatar’s Cabinet has approved the abolition of the Kafala system which requires some foreign workers to obtain exit visas to leave the country and get approval before changing jobs. Those affected by the visa change include agricultural, casual, domestic and public sector workers. The abolition of no objection certificates will allow employees to change jobs, providing they comply with contractual requirements. The changes will come into effect in January 2020. The Cabinet has also adopted draft minimum wage legislation which if approved will apply to all employees regardless of their nationality.
Qatar’s Cabinet has approved a draft Consumer Protection Law as well as a draft Decision issuing the Implementing Regulations to the Law. If approved, it will replace Qatar Law No. 8/2008. The aim is to update the legislation to ensure it takes account of developments and international best practices. The Cabinet also approved a draft Ministerial Decision issuing the Implementing Regulations to Qatar Law No. 2/2019 on supporting the competitiveness of national products and combating harmful international trade practices. It includes provisions on the organisation of the work of the committee to support competitiveness of national products provided for by law and the organisation of the procedures for filing and deciding on complaints. It also includes provisions on the conditions, controls and procedures for the investigation of harmful practices in international trade and interim and final measures and price undertakings on these practices.
Bahrain’s Parliamentary Public Utilities and Environment Committee has discussed a draft maritime law accompanying Bahrain Decree No. 29/2018. The Committee also discussed its recommendations regarding the articles of a draft law amending Bahrain Decree Law No. 20/2002 on the regulation of fishing, exploitation and protection of marine wealth. The Chairman of the Committee pointed out the fishing and marine wealth law will also be amended in order to protect marine wealth and workers in the fishing sector.
The Qatar Financial Centre has announced it has issued new rules and guidance to regulate FinTech service providers in the country. Under the new rules and guidance, non-regulated professional service firm activities have been expanded to cover FinTech Services Provider activities. This will include activities like providing cybersecurity solutions, application programming interfaces cloud computing, developing blockchain-based technologies, Artificial Intelligence and companies who provide a platform for facilitating real-time transaction capability of internet connected devices. It comes as Qatar looks to develop its FinTech environment and is part of the Centre’s FinTech strategy.
In common with other GCC states, Bahrainisation efforts have been under scrutiny as a parliamentary committee which has been put in charge of investigating non-Bahrainisation of jobs in the public and private sector held a meeting. The issue was raised after it was found the Ministry of Information had 70% of Bahraini staff with temporary contracts. There was a pledge to take action after there had been issues as a result of a number of national employees opting for the Voluntary Retirement Programme. The committee asked that the Ministry include Bahrainisation rates as a contract term when signing agreements with private companies and take this matter into consideration when awarding tenders.