New Qatar Foreign Capital Investment Law
The Qatar Foreign Capital Investment Law (Law no 13 of 2000) has now been replaced by a new Foreign Capital Investment Law (Law no 1 of 2019) (the “Foreign Investment Law”). The law comes into force upon issuance of executive regulations and not before 24 February 2019.
The restriction that had been imposed on foreigners not being able to hold more that 49% of private Qatari companies (except in limited circumstances) has now been removed by the Foreign Investment Law, provided that consent for ownership above the level if 49% is approved by the competent department of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. At this stage no guidelines concerning the exercise of the Ministry’s discretionary approval have been released, although the same is envisaged to be put into place by future executive regulations.
Non-Qataris are still restricted from holdings in banks, insurance companies and commercial agencies. The prior restrictions on trading in real estate has been removed. Banks and insurance companies may still obtain an exception by resolution of the Cabinet, The Cabinet is also empowered to place restrictions on other fields of activities.
Another significant change is that companies and individuals authorised by Qatar Petroleum to perform petroleum operations or which aim to invest in the oil, gas and petrochemical sector are exempt from the provisions of the Foreign Investment Law.
One point to bear in mind is that the decision to approve ownership above 49% is a discretionary authority granted to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. In the event of an in favourable decision, an aggrieved party can appeal to the Minister of Commerce and Industry but no rights to appeal beyond that are available.
Al Tamimi & Company have advised on a wide variety of corporate structuring and restructuring related projects. The strength of our team comes not only from our in-depth knowledge of relevant laws and regulations, but also from our awareness of the regional regulatory practices which we have developed by having very close working relationship with regulatory authorities and ministries in Qatar.