Qatar’s Free Zones Authority has announced it is planning to establish a new free zone in Msheireb district in downtown Doha. It will house the new Media City and IT companies. The Media City was established under Qatar Law No. 13/2019. It will be responsible for managing and developing media activities in the country. Microsoft has already got Cabinet approval to establish a global Azure Cloud Computing data centre in the country.
The Qatari Cabinet has approved a draft law which would see the establishment of a new court for investment and trade. A report by the President of the Court of Cassation on the results of the work of the task team mandated to study the mechanisms and requirements for the establishment of the specialised court for investment and trade within the framework of the initiative to develop justice systems and create an attractive environment for investment was reviewed by the Cabinet.
Qatar: The QICDRC Signs a Cooperation Agreement with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes
Qatar’s International Court and Dispute Resolution Centre has signed a cooperation agreement with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes. It was signed for the QICRDC by its CEO, Faisal Rashid Al-Sahouti and for ICSID by its Secretary-General, Meg Kinnear. Under the agreement the two organisations will share arbitration and alternative dispute resolution insights. Each organisation will also be able to conduct all or any part of arbitration proceedings at the other Centre. The other organisation will also have priority access to the facilities and services at their counterpart’s organisation including using meeting rooms and office space as well as interpretation and translation services.
The Head of the Conservation and Energy Efficiency Department at Qatar’s General Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa) has announced new regulations to the Tarsheed law are expected to be issued by the end of this year. The aim is to make air conditioners and other electric home appliances more energy efficient. If approved, the energy efficiency ratio of split unit air-conditioners will be increased from the existing 9.5 to 10.5. The move is part of the National Programme for Conservation and Energy Efficiency which is aiming to reduce electricity consumption by 6% per capita, water by 10% and carbon footprints by 7% by the end of 2022.
Foreign nationals seeking employment in Qatar in select professions, including Project Coordinators and General Supervisors, must now have a degree certificate to support their immigration process, even though it was previously not required. In addition to a degree certificate which must be legalised, the affected individuals must support their application with a transcript and university verification letters attested by Qatari consular post in the country of issue of a document.
The Governor of Qatar’s Central Bank has issued a Decision on the instructions for licensing, organising and supervising the services of supporting insurance providers, in line with Qatar Law No. 13/2012. Qatar Decision No. 7/2019 came into force on 1 April 2019. Amongst other things, they establish a code of conduct for their operations and ensure insurance providers meet their obligations under the Decision. They also cover licensing procedures and the requirements to practice as an insurance provider. Those entities affected have to comply with the Decision and the relevant authorities have to implement the Decision.
This week the spotlight is on tax developments in Qatar, where the country’s Finance Ministry has recently announced the issuing of a new Income Tax Law, Qatar Law No. 24/2018, which replaces the current Income Tax Law, Qatar Law No. 21/2009. Under the new law, the corporate income tax rate remains unchanged at 10%.
The key changes include income connected with agreements relating to petrochemical industries will be subject to corporate income tax at 35% and the penalties for late registration, filing tax returns and paying taxes have been increased significantly. In addition, the 7% withholding tax rate has been removed and a single withholding tax rate of 5% now applies to payments made by Qatari residents to non-residents with no permanent establishment in Qatar in respect of royalties, interest, commissions and services performed in Qatar by non-residents.
This week the spotlight is on legal and regulatory developments in Qatar, where the country’s Finance Ministry has announced it will establish a General Tax Authority. The Ministry also announced they will not introduce Income Tax on individuals or VAT in 2019. The Authority will be established as a stand-alone entity but will be supervised by the Finance Ministry. It will be responsible for implementing all tax laws. The Authority will be able to set up all related bylaws, procedures and instructions to implement tax legislation. It will also review and assess tax return forms submitted by establishments and collect taxes from relevant entities. In addition, it will represent the country in the relevant international and regional organisations as well as at international conferences and events. Finally, it will have the power to sign agreements with other countries to prevent double taxation. The Ministry added they will issue additional exemptions for key economic sectors and will not impose tax on investments in shares and profits. However, they will introduce an excise tax on goods which negatively affect health from the start of next year. It will include a 100% tax on tobacco and its products and energy drinks and a 50% tax on sugary drinks.
Qatar’s Cabinet has approved a Decision establishing a committee to regulate non-Qatari ownership and real estate use. The Decision has been issued in line with Qatar Law No. 16/2018 which states non-Qataris may own and use real estate in the areas in line with the relevant conditions, controls, benefits and procedures. It stated a committee would be established and would be Chaired by a Justice Ministry representative. Individuals from the relevant authorities would also be members. The committee will propose areas where non-Qataris can own and use real estate and propose the terms and conditions of their ownership and use of real estate. It will also propose the benefits, incentives and facilities granted to property owners and non-Qatari users. In addition, it will propose fees and services in the areas determined by the Cabinet and any other functions ordered by a Ministerial Decision. The Decision also sets out how its members will be paid.
This week the spotlight is on legal and regulatory developments in Qatar, where the Shoura Council has referred Qatar Decree-Law No. 18/2018 amending the 2015 Tender and Auction Law, Qatar Law No. 24/2015 to the Finance and Economic Affairs Committee to review and report back to the Council on.
The law details the classification process for those transacting with the Government, involving the issuing of certificates by the Government Procurement Regulatory Department (GPRD) at the Finance Ministry. Foreign and local companies are classified as contractors, service providers or suppliers. Tenderers applying to be classified are required to submit details on personnel, quality assurance, security and other information. The Council’s President had invited the committees to meet to discuss some things during the holiday, but a formal decision of memorandum cannot be issued to the Government until a new Council session has opened.
Elsewhere, the Council has referred a draft Media City Law to the Cultural Affairs and Information Committee to consider and report back to the Council on. The draft law would give the Media City legal personality and an independent budget. It would manage and develop media activities, attract international media, digital media and technology companies and media research and training institutions. It would provide services to licensed companies operating there, including granting licenses for television and radio broadcasting and for publishing and distributing newspapers, magazines and books.