Non-Qataris may invest up to 100% of the project capital in all sectors of the national economy provided they have a Qatari services agent, according to a draft law approved by the Cabinet. The Cabinet gave its nod to the draft law on non-Qatari capital investment in economic activity at its regular weekly meeting on Wednesday, the official Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.
The meeting was chaired by HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Ahmed bin Abdullah al-Mahmoud at the Emiri Diwan. The draft law aims to keep pace with modern developments in the field of investment and will replace Law No 13 of 2000 regulating the investment of non-Qatari capital in economic activity.
According to the QNA report, non-Qatari invested capital means “whatever is invested by a non-Qatari citizen in cash and/or in kind and the rights of monetary value in Qatar”, including cash transferred to the State through banks and licensed financial companies; assets in kind imported for investment purposes in accordance with the provisions of the law; profits, revenues and reserves accumulated from the investment of non-Qatari capital in any project if added to the capital of this project or if invested in any of the projects permitted under the provisions of the present law; and moral rights such as licences, patents and trademarks registered in the country.
The draft law also defines a company “as any company that has been founded in accordance with the provisions of the Commercial Companies Law”. Under the provisions of the draft law, non-Qatari investors may invest up to 100% of the project capital in all sectors of the national economy provided they have a Qatari services agent. In the case of a Qatari partner, this partner is an agent for the services of that company.
Non-Qatari investors may own up to 49% of the capital of companies listed on Qatar Exchange following the approval of the ministry concerned on the proposed percentage in the article of association. Foreign investors may even obtain more than 49% of a company, subject to approval from the Cabinet and based on a proposal by HE the Minister concerned. Citizens of GCC member countries are treated as Qatari citizens when it comes to the ownership of companies listed in the Qatari stock market.
The provisions of the law are not valid for companies or individuals whom the State provides with the right to exploration, use or management of a natural resource based on a special agreement or a franchise – unless the new provisions do not contradict with the special agreement or franchise, the QNA report states.
The second exception is companies that the government, or any public institution, establishes or contributes to the equity of in partnership with non-Qatari investors.
The law includes a number of investment incentives and does not affect tax breaks or other incentives currently offered to companies. Such companies may also maintain those incentives for the duration of their contracts.