The scope of Qatar for Investors
Qatar is a very small country lying very close to Saudi Arabia. Though small in terms of land area, the country has a very strong economy, and it’s a much better place to do business than many other countries.
With many investor-friendly policies put in place by the government, Qatar should be on the list of anyone looking for a good place to start a business, especially in the Middle East. Moreover, the openness of the country to the world of commerce globally, increases the country’s possibility to become a leading business and financial hub. The business environment in the country is very conductive, favourable and welcoming for the new companies. The government does not charge any sort of income tax over the businessmen. According to Forbes, Qatar is escalating its private sector greatly.
Top 10 Small Business Investment Opportunities in Qatar
1. Building materials
Because Qatar is a rapidly growing country, many new buildings and infrastructure are erected on a daily basis. So, there is a huge market in Qatar for materials used for building and construction purposes. And since most of these materials are imported, smart investors can start businesses that sell or manufacture building materials locally in Qatar.
A recession-proof business, laundry sells well in Qatar just like in most other places. The average adult in Qatar is kept ever busy by work schedule. So, there’s very little time for things like laundry. Rather, most people will hire laundry services. Starting a laundry business is dead easy. You don’t need any qualifications, and you don’t need much capital to get started.
3. Information technology
If you are an expert in anything IT, then Qatar may be a very good place to be in right now. Individuals and businesses in Qatar are becoming more aware of the importance of IT-related products and services. But there’s a dearth of IT professionals in Qatar, thereby leaving huge opportunities for the few available. You can make huge profit, too, by joining this few.
4. Car wash
Car wash business is another money-spinner in Qatar, for the same reason that most car owners are busy individuals who don’t have the time to clean up their cars. But these car owners would be happy to hire professional car wash services. So, if you are looking to start a business in Qatar, a car wash business is a very good option. It’s easy to start without any qualifications. And it’s recession-proof, too.
5. Beauty and wellness
Because Qataris are becoming more aware of the health benefits of being physically fit, they are now squeezing some time out of their busy work schedule to engage in fitness activities. So, there’s a booming demand for well-equipped fitness centers in Qatar. Similarly, as busy as they may be, Qatari women would always find time to keep themselves in good shape. So, businesses that improve or maintain women’s beauty in one way or another are always in demand in Qatar.
6. Foods and snacks
Processed foods and snacks sell well in Qatar, probably because people are always busy and have very little time to do some cooking. You can start a business that processes foods and snacks or imports processed foods and snacks such as canned foods, yoghurt, etc.
7. Technology products
Qataris are sticklers for high quality tech products like smartphones, tablets, and PCs. However, only few businesses sell these products in Qatar. So, investors who can venture into selling tech products in Qatar have a large market to serve.
8. Professional services
In Qatar, there is constant demand for professionals such as engineers, accountants, building and construction experts, healthcare experts, and so on. So, if you have a solid background in any of these professional specialties, then you can start a business in Qatar that offers services to individuals and businesses.
Expatriates make up a large fraction of the Qatari workforce. And one of the commonest problems these foreigners face in Qatar is not finding their own delicacies. (Of course, it’s not so easy to forget the foods you have taken for years). So, the demand is high for restaurants that offer foreign delicacies. You can start a restaurant that sells only American or Chinese foods or offers a wide range of outlandish cuisines.
10. Maintenance services
With the fast rate at which new electrical and mechanical installations are made in Qatar comes the need for professional maintenance services. Because it’s cheaper to maintain installations and infrastructure than replacing them, there are huge opportunities in Qatar for businesses that offer maintenance services for mechanical, air conditioning, electrical, plumbing, and other facilities.
While there are many other business opportunities in Qatar, we have chosen these 10 because they’re very easy to break into. So, chose any of them that strike your interest and research more on the market before jump-starting.
The rules for starting a new Business.
For Starting a new business in Qatar the foremost phase is registering a Limited Liability Company LLC or WLL. It’s the most common and de-facto form of company in Qatar. In an LLC, the majority of the company has to be owned by Qatar nationals, with their share coming around to 51%. It doesn’t matter if it’s one Qatar national shareholder owning 51%, or multiple Qatar nationals – the majority needs to be owned national. Otherwise, there are quite a few companies that offer incorporation services, and they would take care of everything for you.
To start things off, you need to get the following three pieces of documents, in the following order, to be fully incorporated and perform all the necessary activities to run and grow your business in Qatar.
I. Commercial Residence, more commonly known as the CR.
II. Trade License, which refers to a legal office space under your CR.
III. Computer Card (also known as Signature Card or Khaid Munshiah), which is to issue Residence Permits (RP) for your employees.
I. Commercial Residence (CR)
The CR is the first piece of document you need to acquire. It’s issued by the Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC), and it’s usually the fastest one to get. A CR is nothing but a piece of document that states that here is “a legal entity with a name that is owned by these shareholders.” You need to do the following paces in order to get a CR:
Pace 1- Trade Name
You need to first get a trade name for your enterprise. Hopefully, the one you want has not already been taken. Note that if your desired name doesn’t have a meaning in Arabic, you will have to pay an extra QAR 1, 000.
Pace 2- Articles of Incorporation
Once you have a trade name, you need to get your articles of incorporation typed, listing all the shareholders and their ownership stakes. An Article of incorporation is a standard document that lists all the shareholders, their ownership, rights etc. Articles of incorporation should be better to filled by consulting a lawyer .Instead, use their templates to get your CR and stuff sorted out, and then gets your lawyer to have it amended as per your needs by going to the Ministry of Justice.
Pace 3- Issue the CR
Once you have your trade name and articles of incorporation, you can then submit them for your enterprise to be issued a CR. At this point, you will be asked about your business activities, as each business activity has its own specific charges. The price can range from QAR 1, 500/year to QAR 7,000/year. Basically, you have to tell them what is it that your business intends to do- for instance, it can be website development, trading contracting, clothing retail, etc. Now it is likely that you won’t find the business activity that describes exactly what you do- if so, and then choose the one that describes what you do the closest. Note that you can also have more than one business activity associated with your company. But, also keep in mind that some business activities may require pre-approval. For instance, if you’re opening a pharmacy or a medical clinic, you need approval from the Ministry of Health. If you’re opening a school, you need approval from the Supreme Council of Education, and so forth. However, if you’re opening a standard e-commerce business, a trading company, or a marketing agency, then you don’t need approvals for those kinds of enterprises. However, do keep in mind that these requirements are subject to change, so you are better off checking with the MEC (Ministry of Economy and Commerce) directly.
So you add your business activities, pay the respective fees for each of them, pay the processing fees, and have all your shareholders there in person to verify their identity. And you will then be issued your CR. CR is usually valid for only one year, and so you have to renew them every year- having said that, the renewal process is easy to do as it is online.
With your CR, here’s what you can and cannot do:
You can open a corporate bank account.
You can invoice and accept payments from your customers (this means that you are pretty much in business, at this stage).
You can buy and own assets under your company’s name.
You cannot yet get an office space for your business.
You cannot yet hire someone, and issue him or her a Residence Permit (RP) under your newly made company.
II. Trade License
After receiving your CR, you need to get a Trade License, in order to have an office space that’s approved by the MEC for conducting your business activities. Getting a Trade License is usually the hardest part of this process- it can take some time to get this done, so plan your time accordingly. The first step here is to fill out the requisite application form from the MEC website, and submit it to the MEC, along with the following documents:
A copy of the ID of each of the authorized persons in your business.A copy of your CR.
A copy of your Articles of Incorporation.
A photo of your office building from the outside, which shows the blue plate that, has the address information.
A photo of your office inside the above building, showing a signage with the name of your business on the door to your office. (Note that the MEC will send a person to inspect your place, so make sure you have proper signage.)
The building completion certificate and a copy of the ID of the building owner.
Rental acknowledgement, ownership instrument and Civil Defence approval.
Authorization letter in real estate rents (in case of subcontracts).
After successfully submitting the documents, you should get an SMS confirming that your application has been received, and that a representative from the MEC will be inspecting your office. Now, this inspector could take anywhere from 1–4 weeks to visit your office; they will call you before they come.
Once the inspection has been done and is deemed successful, you should then get another SMS from the MEC within 24 hours, saying that the trade license is ready to be collected. You then go to the MEC, pay the fees for the trade license (which is usually QAR510 with an additional QAR10 as inspection fees), and they will then print out your Trade License and give it to you.
III. Computer Card
A Computer Card is basically a document that says who is the signing authority on behalf of your company. While the Qatar national partner in your enterprise needs to be listed on the Computer Card, the non-Qatar national member is not required to do so, but can be included all the same. Before you apply for your Computer Card, you will need to get an official company stamp that will be used on all your official paperwork. For this, you can go to any major printing press and order an official company stamp. They will ask a copy of your CR, Trade License and ID copies of the shareholders. This usually takes a day to get done, and it should cost you less than QAR200.
You can only hire anyone full-time issuing them a Residence Permit under your company after getting a Computer Card. CR and Trade License are issued by the MEC whereas Computer Card is issued by Immigration.
You will have to go to Immigration and Passport control office to apply for the Computer Card. For that you will need the following:
The requisite application form, which has been duly filled. It will ask for the names of the individuals who want to be on the Computer Card as the signing authority. Also, there will be a place on the form for you to imprint your company’s stamp. The documents required as follows:
A copy of your CR.
A copy of Trade License.
ID copies of all the shareholders in the company
ID copies of individuals who needs be on the computer card.
Note here that at this point, you don’t have any employees, so only the shareholders can be on the Computer Card. But once you have employees under your company’s RP, you can have them listed on the Computer Card as well. They don’t need to be shareholders to be on the computer card. Once you have all of the above, you then pay the fees, and you will be issued your Computer Card.
Some of the major things you can do with your Computer Card:
Hire employees and issue them RPs.
Issue exit permits for your employees.
Although credit cards are accepted almost everywhere, you might have to use cash in certain places, like when you need to get your forms typed. So carry both your card and cash when you are out and about for these activities.
Getting the Trade License usually takes a while, because there is a lot of paperwork associated with it. Most of the documents required for this will be acquired from your office building owners, so ask them for these well in advance to get them ready for you.
The set-up process can take anywhere between a month to four months, depending on how quick you were able to assemble all of the paperwork and how busy the MEC is. So be aware that this will take time.