Global Business GuideQatar

From Global Connections

This is one of a series of Global Business Guides designed for businesses wishing to expand into another country/territory. This Global Business Guide was produced in January 2016. The materials contained in this document provide a snapshot at that time and were based on the law enforceable and information available at that time.


Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Qatar averaged QAR535.31 million from 2011 until 2015. Over the past two decades, Qatar's government has followed a diversification strategy, helping the economy move away from its dependence on oil and gas; FDI has been critical to this.

Qatar ranked 68th in the World Bank's 2016 Doing Business rankings, down three places from 65th in the year prior. Qatar scored well in the Paying Taxes and Dealing with Construction Permits topics, where it ranked first and eighth in the world, respectively. The rankings also recognised that Qatar had made trading across borders easier through reforms. Qatar condensed the time for border compliance for importing by reducing the number of days of free storage at the port and thus the time required for port handling.

Key facts about starting a business in Qatar:

  • It takes eight procedures and approximately 8.5 days to start a new business in Qatar; this process is detailed in the Doing Business in chapter
  • Only those companies approved by the Qatari immigration authorities can sponsor foreign nationals and apply for their respective business visas; employment regulations are discussed in detail in the Labour chapter
  • It takes approximately 10 days and costs QAR3,000 to obtain a final building permit approval
  • Companies operating in Qatar spend, on average, 41 hours per year 'Paying Taxes'; the tax regime is outlined in the Tax chapter
  • Most companies prepare financial statements in accordance with the International Financial Reporting Standards; further details can be found in the Audit chapter
  • Companies wishing to list on the Qatar Stock Exchange must, amongst other requirements, have a minimum trading record of three years; capital markets are discussed further in the Finance chapter

Qatar's attractiveness as an investment location can be attributed to a number of factors, including its economic stability and its wide range of foreign investment incentives. Nevertheless, in order to make an informed decision, it is critical to understand the nuances of any local regime. The manner in which people conduct business in Qatar may differ from the home countries of investors. Furthermore, variations on these distinctions may exist depending on the industry in which a company operates.

Qatar's official language is Arabic, although English is widely used in business. Business attire is conservative; Qataris dress in a very traditional manner. A handshake is the typical business greeting and will be used at the beginning and end of a meeting. Punctuality is expected. Business cards will usually be presented after initial introductions.

Those looking to establish a business in Qatar may look across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) for alternative options. However, Qatar can be differentiated on the following factors:

  • Qatar remains MENA's most competitive economy, according to the WE Forum Global Competitiveness Report
  • Qatar does not levy any personal income tax on salaries and has a low corporate income tax at 10 per cent
  • Qatar offers a number of incentives to foreign investments, including free foreign ownership in the Free Zones; discussed further in the Trade chapter
  • Qatar plans to invest up to USD220 billion in infrastructure over the next seven years; details on Qatar's current infrastructure can be found in the Infrastructure chapter

Qatar's attractiveness as a foreign direct investment location can be attributed to many factors. Nevertheless, foreign investors must remain aware of some of the challenges they can encounter when doing business in Qatar. Most businesses require a local sponsor or business partner with at least 51 per cent owned by the Qatari partner. The World Bank also ranked the quality of Qatar's judicial processes below the MENA average; further details on the country's legal system can be found in the legal chapter.

This guide has been developed to provide businesses with an overview of Qatar, its legal regime, start-up and market entry considerations, tax and customs requirements and a general summary of the factors that may affect the decision to do business in Qatar. However, the information contained in this document is generic in nature and you should not act or rely on it without obtaining specific professional advice.

Please note that the Global Business Guides may only be available in English.

Useful Links

1 Ministry of Economy and Commerce
2 Ministry of Finance
3 Ministry of Interior Qatar
4 Qatar Customs
5 Qatar Development Bank
6 Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs



1 FDI Statistics
2 Doing Business Rankings
3 Global Competitiveness Report
4 Infrastructure Investment


Download Global Business Guide - Qatar (3.33MB, PDF)


This document is issued by by HSBC Bank Middle East Limited (the Bank).  This guide is a joint project with Grant Thornton. It is not intended as an offer or solicitation for business to anyone in any jurisdiction. It is not intended for distribution to anyone located in or resident in jurisdictions which restrict the distribution of this document. It shall not be copied, reproduced, transmitted or further distributed by any recipient. The information contained in this document is of a general nature only. It is not meant to be comprehensive and does not constitute financial, legal, tax or other professional advice. You should not act upon the information contained in this document without obtaining specific professional advice. Whilst every care has been taken in preparing this document, the Bank and Grant Thornton makes no guarantee, representation or warranty (express or implied) as to its accuracy or completeness, and under no circumstances will the Bank or Grant Thornton be liable for any loss caused by reliance on any opinion or statement made in this document. Except as specifically indicated, the expressions of opinion are those of the Bank and are subject to change without notice. The materials contained in this document were assembled in January 2016 and were based on the law enforceable and information available at that time.

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