Qatar’s Financial Centre has announced a new policy on providing legal services in the Centre for new applicants. It comes into force immediately. It sets out the conditions to new applicants looking to provide legal services in or from the Centre. Under the new guidance, international law firms can be licensed in the Centre if they are ranked by Legal 500, Chambers and Partners, or a similar reputable ranking acceptable to the Centre’s Authority, the firm will conduct most of its operations from Qatar and at least 51% of the entity’s activities in the Centre are attributed to activities undertaken in Qatar. In addition, the firm will have to have at least three full-time lawyers on the ground whose individual salaries are at least 15,000 Riyals each and the firm will occupy an office with a minimum of eight square metres per person. Exemptions may be made at the Centre’s Authority’s discretion. Firms which have a strategically important substantial contract with the Government or subcontracts, where the Government is not a party will not be exempt.
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Qatar: Amendments to Government Regulation for Sale and Purchase of Chemical and Petrochemical Products Law Discussed
Qatar’s Shoura Council has discussed amendments to the Government Regulation for Sale and Purchase of Chemical and Petrochemical Products produced in Qatar Law. The amendments to Qatar Decree-Law No. 11/2012 have been approved in Qatar Decree-Law No. 16/2020. They have referred it to the Cabinet to consider.
Qatar’s Supreme Judicial Council has announced it has established new departments. The new departments will be part of the Court of Cassation and Court of Appeal and there will be two new appeal-hearing chambers. A new criminal department will be established in the Court of Cassation. There will also be a chamber to hear implementation disputes and a specialist department for reviewing pretrial appeals.
Qatar’s Financial Centre has approved new Representative Office Regulations. The regulations will govern how these offices can be run in Qatar. Financial institutions will be able to carry out a range of activities, including marketing the products and services of its group, carrying out market research or feasibility studies in relation to financial products or financial services on behalf of the head office and serving as a liaison office for its group. They are aimed at helping financial service entities establish in the country and promote their products and services.
Qatar’s Cabinet has reviewed a draft media activities regulation law. If approved, it will regulate the press, publications, publishing, media activities and the arts in the country. The Cabinet also approved a Finance Ministry proposal to determine the value of the bank guarantee for tax warehouses, based on Qatar Law No. 25/2018 on excise tax and its Implementing Regulations. The Regulation defines a tax warehouse as the ‘place where the licensee is allowed to produce, transfer, possess, store, or receive excise goods imported or produced in the state under a tax suspension arrangement’.
Qatar’s Interior Ministry has announced new rules for installing surveillance cameras at Government entities and private companies in the country. The rules will be specified by the appropriate authority. The rules will vary depending on the type of company or institution. Under the rules, before surveillance cameras are installed, the relevant party has to get approval from the Security Systems Department. Permits will also be issued to specific exhibitions and institutions.
Qatar has set conditions and regulations for non-Qataris to own real estate in 25 areas in the country. Non-Qataris may own real estate and use it in these areas in line with Qatar Cabinet Decision No. 28/2020. The aim is to encourage more foreign investment in this sector in this country.
Non-Qataris will be able to own real estate in nine freehold areas and be able to use real estate in 16 other areas on a 99-year lease.
The Justice Ministry stated non-Qataris may also own a detached unit in one of the residential complexes and may also own detached units like offices and shops in commercial malls in areas which aren’t included in the 25 areas. However, they will not be able to modify or change the nature, shape or outward appearance of the unit.
In a related development, Qatar’s Justice Ministry and Interior Ministry have announced an Office for Non-Qatari Real Estate Ownership has been established.
It will provide real estate ownership and utilisation services through a single window for investors.
It provides all the requirements for the sale and purchase of real estate, residential units and offices in the areas covered by Qatar Cabinet Decision No. 28/2020. This specifies the areas in which non-Qataris may own and benefit from real estate and the conditions, controls, benefits and procedures for their ownership.
It will enable beneficiaries to obtain a title deed in under an hour and through an automated system which has been developed by the Interior and Justice Ministries, will enable the issuing of residency on completion of ownership or usufruct procedures, where the property of the owner or the beneficiary is in the category whose value is not less than 730.000 Riyals. An owner of property in this category will be able to obtain a residence permit for themselves and their family without a recruiter for the duration of their ownership of the property.
As well as residency for them and their family, the owner of the property will also receive permanent residency benefits which include health, education and investment in some commercial activities, where the property value is at least 3,650,000 Riyals.
Elsewhere, the first real estate bond for the first investor to apply for real estate ownership was issued.
Qatar Financial Centre’s Regulatory Authority has issued the Representative Office Rules 2020. They came into force on 1 October 2020. The new Rules introduce a Representative Office framework which allows financial services firms to carry out a limited range of activities in respect of services or products offered by its head office or corporate group. The activities of a Representative Office may include providing information, carrying out market research, assessing business trends and opportunities for the head office, acting as a channel of communication to the head office and generic marketing. The new Rules are aimed at being proportionate and reflecting the narrower range of activities and services which can be undertaken by Representative Offices.
The Authority also issued the Miscellaneous Amendments Rules 2020. They come into force on 15 October 2020. The amendments include changes to the General Rules 2006 relating to the regulation of captive finance and providing leases. In addition they include changes to GENE clarifying the application of the ‘late fees’ framework to late submissions of regulatory reports for Designated Financial Businesses and Professions and reduce the number of business days to elapse before late fees are payable by all authorised firms and Designated Financial Businesses and Professions. They also include changes to the Collective Investment Schemes Rules 2010 regarding Real Estate Investment Trusts or REITs.
Qatar’s Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs Ministry has announced a minimum wage committee is going to be established soon. It will be responsible for reviewing and studying the minimum wage for workers and domestic workers. It will also submit its recommendations to the Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs Minister.