Implementing guidelines issued by the Emir of Qatar on countering the spread of the COVID-19 including the decision to cancel customs fees, the Qatari Customs Department has cancelled fees on certain products. Customs fees on food and medicine will be cancelled for six months. The list of exempt items includes 905 items such as meat, dairy, fish, oils, juices, facial masks, sanitizers, soap products, detergents, wipes, and other products.
Qatar’s Central Bank has announced it is finalising a trial for a regulatory Sandbox environment to boost FinTech innovations and tackle possible cyber risks using Blockchain strategies. The Bank is using FinTech strategies to boost financial innovation which is the second objective of its strategic plan for developing the financial sector by 2022. The Sandbox will be an experimental lab enabling for testing programme software and financial and commercial services in an experimental environment to be evaluated later.
The UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has prohibited service providers from putting conditions and clauses in subscription contracts which are vague or do not clearly list the administrative fees. The Authority said if the service providers don’t keep a record to show the agreement of the customer to the terms of the contract, the providers lose their right when there is a dispute regarding the service. The customer’s agreement will be considered unavailable if the record is not kept. The Authority added the sale conditions for telecommunications services listed in its amended charter for protecting customers provide customers should be provided with documents to explain the terms and the fair usage policy and tariffs. Service providers have been urged to redraft their contracts and amend them if they don’t comply with the Authority’s regulatory framework.
Qatar’s Transport and Communications Minister has announced the country will issue a first of its kind guide in the region to protect marine assets and information about ships and goods from cyber attacks. The announcement was made at the Qatar Maritime and Logistics Summit. The guide will facilitate greater cooperation between the national navigation companies and the National Information Security Centre, Q-cert to improve cybersecurity in this area.
Investors in Qatar will be able to apply through the Single Window platform at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to secure industrial licences and plots of land in the Small and Medium Industrial Area and complete financing procedures via the same application. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) together with Qatar Development Bank has launched the Land and Industrial Loan initiative to enable this. Investors will fill out and submit the application electronically through the Single Window Services website on singlewindow.gov.qa. They will also provide all the required documents (a complete feasibility study, the engineering plan and a copy of audited financial accounts) and any other documents which may be requested during the application review period. After submitting the application and the required documents, a technical team from the Ministry and QDB will review the application and there will then be an application review by the Land Commission.
Qatar’s Education and Higher Education Ministry will soon be responsible for accrediting universities. The Ministry is going to launch a quality control and accreditation programme for all of the country’s universities. It hasn’t yet decided whether it will be undertaken by the Ministry itself outsourced to other organisations abroad. Alternatively the universities may carry out self-assessment and submit these to the Ministry who will then assess these reports. A new private Lusail University is also going to be established by next year and an Indian University is going to be up and running by the end of the year. The aim is to ensure standardisation in the sector.
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Qatar’s Cabinet has approved a draft decision to reorganise the Finance Ministry’s Compensation Claims Committee. The Undersecretary of the Ministry will be the Chairperson and representatives from the relevant authorities will be members. They will receive and study compensation requests submitted to Ministries, Government agencies, public bodies and institutions as well as consider compensation requests arising from contracting and supplies contracts and related compensation requests for delay in the implementation of obligations or completion of original or additional works, change orders or amendments which have been made to those contracts.
Qatar’s Emir has issued amendments to the country’s Penal Code. Under the amendments, anyone who broadcasts, publishes, or re-publishes rumours, fake news, or biased news, locally or abroad, with the intent to harm national interests, stir up public opinion, or infringe on social harmony or public order will be jailed. Biased broadcasting or publication will be jailed for up to five years and fined 100,000 Riyals. The amendments have been published in the Official Gazette.
Qatar’s Prime Minister and Interior Minister has issued Qatar Decision No. 95/2019 on controls and procedures for the exit of some categories of expatriates who are not subject to the Labour Law. The Decision allows expatriates to exit the country during the validity of their work contract. It applies to workers in Ministries and other Government agencies as well as public bodies and institutions. In addition, it applies to those in the oil and gas sector, maritime industries, agriculture and grazing, domestic and private office workers. An employer has the right to submit a request to the Interior Ministry with the names of those who may require approval before they leave the country because of the nature of their work, up to 5% of the number of their employees. Domestic workers should inform their employer at least 72 hours before they want to leave.