By David Burgess, General Manger of The Links Group Qatar
With Qatar forecast to remain the fastest-growing economy in the GCC in the years to 2020, the Gulf state continues to attract foreign trade delegations intent on lending their expertise to support the country’s ambitious 2030 vision for economic development.
Most recently the Irish Qatari Business Council, in co-operation with Enterprise Ireland and the Embassy of Ireland in Qatar, organised a breakfast networking reception to introduce a varied group of Irish companies to the Qatari market. The reception was held at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Doha and was attended by Richard Bruton, Ireland Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, and H.E. Pat Hennessy, Irish Ambassador to Qatar and Irish companies.
The Links Group was delighted to support this trade mission to explain more about the various business licences available when establishing a commercial presence, the important steps and factors that foreign companies need to consider before incorporating in Qatar, and provide an overview of how our services can support their expansion to the country.
As per the Commercial Companies Law in Qatar, each foreign investor requires a Qatari national to hold a minimum 51 per cent share the company. However, this does not mean giving up ownership control. Thanks to the nominee partner structure for onshore trade licenses, a model which The Links Group pioneered, foreign investors can protect their ownership interests and identify clear succession planning. The Links Group can also set up an offshore entity to protect the company’s 49 per cent shareholding, thereby strengthening beneficial ownership.
Qatar is busy implementing an ambitious diversification strategy. The economy has maintained strong growth momentum so far this year, despite the large drop in oil prices since summer 2014. Real GDP growth has been stable at about 6 percent over the past three years, mostly driven by a double-digit expansion of the non-hydrocarbon sector.
Foreign companies that can align themselves to the plans of Qatar’s Vision 2030 economic development strategy will be well placed to capitalise on the growth in this market, but positioning themselves correctly via the most appropriate means of legal incorporation will be imperative.