Reference for U.S. Exporters of Design Services in Qatar.
Last Published: 2/22/2016

Qatar
U.S. Commercial Service
Design & Construction Industry Team

Design Resource Guide- Qatar

Why Qatar?

Spurred by the Qatar National Vision for 2030, and winning  the bid to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022, Qatar’s is undergoing rapid economic and demographic growth creating opportunities in almost every major industry sector. Government spending will continue to support the long term strategic goals of developing a knowledge-based economy and growing the non-hydrocarbon sector to become the significant contributor to GDP rather. This has led to heavy spending on sectors such as infrastructure,  transportation, education and healthcare. The near     53 term opportunities  revolve around Qatar hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2022 present opportunities for architects looking for business in Qatar.

More than USD $220 billion has been allocated by the government for construction, infrastructure, public transportation, and logistics projects, to meet and serve the demands of the country’s growing population and projected event spectators.

Available Opportunities for U.S. Companies:

 

  • Partner with local contractors, developers, and consultancies to be aligned for upcoming project opportunities
  • Sector opportunities
    • 6 of the 8 major stadiums for the World Cup 2022 still to be announced. Opportunities in the non-competitive venues, fan zones around  the stadiums,  and training  fields (60 to 90 sites to be built)
    • Commercial and Residential Major Developments
    • Education and Healthcare planned projects over the next five years


Banking Regulations:

All banking  business is closely monitored by banks themselves and by the Central Bank of Qatar. The available types of bank accounts in Qatar are: current accounts, savings, and investment  accounts, credit and debit card services, personal loans, overdrafts, and foreign exchange services. Recent banking  products  have been introduced tailored for new expats and companies  to the country as well.
 
Taxation:

The principal  taxes in Qatar are the income tax and custom duties. Corporate Income Tax is based on the calendar year, where a tax law passed in January 2010 imposes a 10% flat rate for all non- Qatari companies and foreign partners in Qatari companies. Non tax residents with no permanent establishment in Qatar are subject to withholding  tax of 5% to 7% on certain items of income derived from a Qatari source. The withholding  tax is a final tax and is based on gross income.

Corporate Income Tax    10%
Withholding Tax (IRRF)    5 - 7%

Accounting Principles:

The accounting  practice in Qatar accepts the adoption  of standards promulgated by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB)  as national  accounting  standards.

Leading Accounting Firms:

• Ernest & Young
• BDO
• Deloitte
• PWC
• KPMG

Leading Law Firms:

• Patton & Bogs
• K&L Gates

Employees Required Benefits:

1. Residency & Work Permit Sponsorship by company
2. Remuneration & Bonus/13th salary additional  payments subject to contract agreement
3. No form of tax on income earned by employees
4. Approval required by employer for No Objection by Company (NOC) letter for employees to transfer their employment  from company to company
 
Employees Working Rights:

1. Working hours should not exceed eight hours a day and 44 hours per week.
2. Qatar doesn’t impose a Minimum wage
3. Must maintain  Qatari vs foreign employees ratio (Qatarisation); A company with a headcount more than 50 employees is required to employ 5% of the headcounts  as Qatari trainees to later replace existing workforce with the technical skills required 

Procurement and Real Estate Laws:

Qatar generally doesn’t allow foreign buyers to own both property and land in their own name. There has been one development  (Lusail City) that allows ownership in limited areas only.

Sub-Sector Best Prospects:

Best Prospects in the architectural, construction, and engineering sectors can be found  in areas such as:

 

  • Real Estate (New or Retrofit)
  • Hospitality
    • New Hotel, Entertainment,  and Leisure project developments
    • Transformations of Residential building into hotels or existing hotel expansions/refurbishment
  • Education  facilities (Need for new schools as currently under-supplied in Doha, expansions in Education city , development by Qatar Foundation and home to over seven major international universities)
  • Healthcare Facilities (Supreme Health Council’s National Health Strategy for the coming  5 years includes the addition of major hospitals, clinics, and healthcare facilities)
  • Sports Venue design and equipment; 6 of the 8 major stadiums for the World Cup 2022 still to be announced, opportunities in the non- competitive venues, fan zones around the stadiums, and training sites (60 to 90 sites to be built)
  • Municipal  Urban Planning projects for Doha and major cities in Qatar (Lusail City projects)
  • Commercial and Residential Projects

 
How to Launch Your Own Office in Qatar:
 
To set up a local engineering office under a Qatari Commercial Registration, the law requires at least 51% ownership by a Qatari individual/entity.

 

  • Identify local partner (individual  or entity) and prepare required documentation to submit to Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC)
  • Obtain name approval & company activity for new company (MEC)
  • Open bank account for company with minimum  capital of 200,000QAR (USD $54,945)
  • Process documents  for Ministry of Justice
  • Process documents  for registration with Chamber  of Commerce
  • Process all approvals including  company  Articles of Association to submit to MEC
  • Process application for Municipality license
  • Process application for Immigration Card of the Company


An international  engineering consultancy office can be established without a local partner provided that the company has been operating for more than 10 years with a track record of at least 10 completed projects in five countries with four international branches other than the head office, and projects’ value are at least QAR 100 million  (USD $27,472,530). The process is known to be onerous and can take up to a year to complete.

Conclusion and Recommendation:

Although  U.S. Architectural  firms face a competitive environment in Qatar, U.S. firms have been able to win contracts. Many large EPC projects that involve architectural  design services and construction are won by large Qatari and International engineering and construction companies. The U.S. Commercial Service recommends U.S. architectural firms with no physical presence in Qatar to partner and form alliances with these companies to optimize  their bidding  strategy to local projects. If the U.S. firm is considering a long term strategy however, it’s advisable to start building presence either by registering as a local engineering office or international  engineering office if qualified to the do the latter.
 
Key Contacts:

U.S. Commercial Service in Doha
U.S. Embassy, Doha Qatar
22nd February Street
Luqta, Doha
Tel: +974 4496 0000
Fax: +974 4496 4163
www.export.gov/qatar

Ryan Elzein
Commercial Specialist
U.S. Commercial Service
U.S. Embassy Doha
Tel: +974-4496-6085
Fax: +974-4484-4163
Email: ryanel.zein@trade.gov

Web Resources
Qatar Tender Opportunities for 2015
http://www.export.gov/qatar/doingbusinessinqatar/index.asp

References:

1. Accounting Principles and Reporting Requirements, Ernest and Young http://www.adoptifrs.org/uploads/Qatar/Accounting%20Principles%20and%20Reporting%20Requirements.pdf ”
2. Qatar Accounting Practices - Country Guides - Global Connections.” HSBC Global Connections. PwC, n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2014. <https://globalconnections. hsbc.com/global/en/tools-data/country-guides/br-march-2013/audit-and- accountancy>.
3. “Starting a Business in Qatar- Doing Business - World Bank Group.” Starting a Business in Qatar- Doing Business - World Bank Group. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.
4. Country Commercial  Guide for 2014, Qatar, U.S. Commercial  Service, www. export.gov/qatar



Contact Matt.Baker for further details on this article and the Design & Construction Industry Team.​

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