Qatar Market Entry
Basic conditions for the use of Czech goods on the market
- Market entry
- Forms and conditions of operation on the market
- Marketing and Communications
- Issues of intellectual property protection
- Public procurement market
- Payment terms, payment ethics and resolution of commercial disputes
- Visas, fees, specific conditions of travel to the territory
- Employment of citizens from the Czech Republic
- Fairs and events
The legislation requires any economic activity in Qatar to have a local agent, or establish a trading company (become a shareholder). That is operation of distribution, production or other economic centers of foreign companies. It is also about the participation of foreign companies in public tenders. By law, an agent is not required for the direct delivery of goods to the customer. Choosing the right partner is a decisive factor when entering the market. An agent is established by concluding an exclusive agency contract and sells and distributes goods or services of a foreign company on the local market for a pre-agreed commission. It is not required to establish any legal entity in Qatar, it is a suitable option especially for the mere sale/distribution of goods or services in the country. Check smber for agriculture and fishing facts of Qatar.
Qatar is bound by the unified customs tariff of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which sets a common external tariff of 5% for most goods imported into the GCC states. Certain basic foods, medicines or medical devices are exempt from duty. Tobacco products are subject to a 100% duty. For deliveries of meat goods, a so-called Halal Certificate must be attached. At the beginning of 2019, a special, so-called sin tax (“sin tax”) was imposed on some products harmful to health. In particular, it concerns tobacco products (100% surcharge), carbonated and sweetened sodas (50%) and energy drinks (100%). In January 2019, a 100% surcharge was also introduced on alcoholic beverages. Goods containing min. 50% of components from GCC countries are imported duty-free. An invoice, item list and certificate of origin must be attached.
Forms and conditions of operation on the market
Foreign investors or entrepreneurs in Qatar most often use the so-called ” Limited Liability Company “, or LLC (similar to the Czech s.r.o.). One of the partners must be a Qatari citizen with min. with a share of 51%. The profit share does not have to correspond to the ownership share of the company. It is therefore possible to divide the profits, for example, in the ratio of 90% for the foreign partner, 10% for the Qatari partner. Despite a minority ownership share, a foreign partner can have a dominant influence on the day-to-day running of the company and important decisions. The number of owners can be 1 – 50, no minimum company capital is required at the time of establishment.
Another possibility is the establishment of a so-called temporary branch of the company . The advantage is that it can be 100% owned by a foreign entity. Establishment is tied to obtaining a contract with a state/semi-state Qatari entity. It expires upon termination of the contract, although an extension or transfer to another, e.g. follow-on contract is also possible. The disadvantage is that the client is required by law to withhold 10% of all payments to the contractor in a so-called retention fund, from which funds are released to the contractor only after the successful completion of the contract. In the event that a foreign company obtains several contracts from several clients, it is recommended to establish a so-called international engineering-consulting office , or (International Engineering Consultancy Office – IECO), which enables permanent operation in the country. This eliminates the client’s legal obligation to withhold 10% of payments to the contractor. A variation is a representative trade office or office, the so-called Representative Trade Office (RTO). However, the RTO has a very narrowly defined scope by law – it cannot be used, for example, for the import of goods or services, or for business operations with the aim of generating profit. In practice, it serves mainly for marketing and advertising purposes of foreign companies in Qatar, e.g. in the period before the contract is awarded.
Another is, for example, capital entry into a Qatari joint-stock company, the establishment of a branch or a company under the auspices of the Qatar Science and Technology Park, or the establishment/registration of a company in the so-called Qatar financial center. Especially for high-tech companies, registering a company in Qatar’s VTP (Qatar Science and Technology Park – QSTP) can be an interesting option.
The autonomous world of business with its own rules and courts in Qatar is represented by the so-called Qatar Financial Center (QTC), which is completely independent of Qatari commercial legislation and subject only to its own legislative, tax and regulatory framework based on British and international standards and conventions. A clear advantage is the 100% foreign ownership of the company, the possibility of repatriating 100% of profits, and the possibility of having a seat anywhere in Qatar.
Marketing and communication
An extended local marketing tool is advertising in the press, advertising spots aimed directly at the Qatari market on local TV stations are rather rare. Television advertising with a broader regional focus can be seen mainly on the relevant TV stations (mainly originating from Egypt, Lebanon, the KSA or the UAE). It is appropriate to target the segment of consumers over 50 (especially women) in the Arabic language in TV advertising. The middle and younger generations often watch the English version of local television. Advertising on the Internet is also common. A number of Qatari companies have their websites, but they do not pay as much attention to them as Czech companies. Websites in general do not have the same importance in Qatar as in the Czech Republic or Europe. On the other hand, it is absolutely necessary to promote the company/product through social media – the most widespread is advertising/promotion on FB and Instagram. For some types of goods (e.g. fashion) it is said that there is no point in doing business in Qatar without an Instagram account – especially younger and middle-aged Qataris follow their favorite brands and fashion influencers through their Instagram accounts. Last but not least, we must not forget the extraordinary position of oral communication (so-called Word of Mouth or WoM marketing), which traditionally has a strong position among the local Qatari community. In the environment of a very small country with a tiny and small population, word of mouth spreads at lightning speed. This way of spreading information (and misinformation) is further enhanced by the power of social media, which is extremely popular in Qatar. Demonstration or exhibition events (tastings in supermarkets, etc.) are a common form of promotion for consumer goods, which are mainly used by foreign importers. You can also see advertising on billboards of the most prestigious brands, especially in close proximity to major shopping centers.
Issues of intellectual property protection
Patent protection is provided by a system of registrations for an initial period of 10 years, and a patent extension for a further period of 5 years can be requested. It is also possible to have patents licensed. A trademark can be registered for a period of 10 years and renewed for another 10 years. If the trademark has not been used for more than 5 years, an interested party can apply to the court to cancel the trademark for the original registrant. Registration gives the owner the exclusive right to use the trademark on the goods or services for which it is registered. Law regulating the issue of intellectual property protection No. 7 came into force in 2002, replacing the original Law No. 25 from 1995. According to the law, protection is granted to original literary and artistic works, regardless of the value, quality, purpose or method of artistic creation rendition of these works.
Protection is for these works:
- books, brochures and other printed matter;
- works presented in oral form such as lectures, speeches, sermons, etc.;
- theatrical and musical works l choreographic and pantomime performance;
- audiovisual work;
- photographic and similar works;
- computer programs etc.
The law also provides for penalties for violations, which can be fines ranging from QAR 30,000 to QAR 100,000 ($8,240–27,500) and prison terms of 6–12 months. The law is administered by the Copyright Office.
Public procurement market
Public contracts are awarded in the form of tenders and are published by law on the website of the Qatari Ministry of Finance. In 2016, a new law on public tenders (Law no. 24 of 2015 on Regulation of Tenders and Auctions) was adopted, which abolished the previous practice, when tenders were decided by the Central Tenders Committee and the Local Tenders Committee depending on the amount of the tender value. The new law decentralized the system, and now tenders are decided by the individual government institutions that issue them, or their own selection board. The entire process is formally protected and supervised by the Ministry of Finance, on whose website information about all tenders can be found online. Usually, only already registered companies can apply for the tender. Sometimes it is required that the company, or its products were on the so-called “vendors list”. The entire tender process requires a strong agent capable of mastering the unwritten rules of the game, and success, especially with investment units, lies in the long-term establishment of the company’s representative. Given the fierce competition, it is necessary to pay special attention to the formal side as well. Submit brochures in Arabic or English version, CIF or CandF Qatar pricing in USD. Long-term personal contact in the area is necessary to obtain a solid connection. Reference to Incoterms or other general terms of delivery is rarely used in the country. Much of the adjustment of ties is left to the trust of the partners. Agreements on terms of business concluded orally have considerable weight. In general, Qatari entities are usually not willing to deal with lengthy “paperwork”, rather they are used to accepting one of the many comprehensively prepared offers.
Payment terms, payment ethics and resolution of commercial disputes
The Qatari legal system regulates contractual business relationships very little. In practice, there is still a significant proportion of contracts based on trust and not in writing, this applies especially to long-term partners. This cannot be recommended, in the event of disagreement, there is no Commercial Code governing otherwise unwritten business relationships. The court then assesses the more intuitive side of the matter. Based on knowledge of local conditions, he discusses cases mainly in Arabic. A minuscule percentage of foreigners are successful even in obvious economic disputes. Commercial disputes can also be resolved through the Chamber of Commerce, which can act as a judge and help resolve the case.
Most importers in the country accept an irrevocable documentary letter of credit as the most reliable payment instrument. Documentary direct debit (D/P) cannot be recommended due to the long time of shipping the goods and the possibility of changes in the customer’s needs, or risk of goods being rejected. The dispute with the Qatari entity is a long-term and difficult matter.
ZÚ Kuwait has repeatedly recorded attempts to defraud Czech companies. E.g. offers to mediate participation in a (fictitious) public contract announced by the Ministry of Qatar, with the fact that it is necessary to pay various registration and administrative fees to the mediating entity in advance. Qatari state institutions do not usually use intermediary private entities (agents) to approach potential applicants. Suspicious circumstances are also incorrect data on official documentation, e.g. inaccurate name of the state, commissioning ministry, or non-existent telephone or e-mail connection, link to fake websites of non-existent Qatari state institutions.
Visas, fees, specific conditions for traveling to the territory
In order to enter and stay in the territory of a foreign country, citizens of the Czech Republic must meet the conditions set by its laws. The embassy of the given country is responsible for communicating the current conditions of entry and stay in the territory of a foreign country. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic therefore recommends that Czech citizens check with the embassy of Qatar (the Qatari embassy in Berlin), which is also responsible for the Czech Republic, whether the conditions for entry and stay have not changed before traveling. Czech citizens traveling to the State of Qatar as tourists will receive a so-called visa on arrival upon their arrival in the State of Qatar (airport, land crossing and port). It is a free entry permit. The only condition remains a valid passport for at least 6 months from the time you plan to leave Qatar. This visa can be a single-entry visa for a 30-day stay (with the possibility of an extension for another 30 days) or a multiple-entry visa for a 90-day stay with a validity period of up to 180 days. (The Czech Republic was included among 34 countries whose citizens can stay in Qatar for up to 90 days within a 180-day period, the type of visa is decided by the applicant’s country of origin.) Upon entry, the immigration officer may check the means of transport back from Qatar (e.g. return ticket) and sufficient funds (functional payment card or sufficient cash of the traveler). The registration obligation is fulfilled automatically, as soon as the foreigner crosses the border, he is entered into the database of the immigration office, which very carefully monitors the length of stay in the country throughout his stay. The one-month “visit visa” can be extended by another month, however, if this is not done within the given period (at least 5 days before the last day of visa validity), a penalty is paid for each day without a valid visa. When leaving the country, it is also possible to demand the payment of all claims from the local authorities, e.g. payment of a fine for a traffic offence, etc., because all data of this type is concentrated in the database of the central immigration office. Details can be found on the website of the Ministry of Interior of the State of Qatar (www.moi.gov.qa). The import of drugs, alcoholic beverages, erotic literature and video recordings, pork and its products, as well as all goods “made in Israel” is prohibited. because all data of this type is concentrated in the database of the central immigration office. Details can be found on the website of the Ministry of Interior of the State of Qatar (www.moi.gov.qa). The import of drugs, alcoholic beverages, erotic literature and video recordings, pork and its products, as well as all goods “made in Israel” is prohibited. because all data of this type is concentrated in the database of the central immigration office. Details can be found on the website of the Ministry of Interior of the State of Qatar (www.moi.gov.qa). The import of drugs, alcoholic beverages, erotic literature and video recordings, pork and its products, as well as all goods “made in Israel” is prohibited.
Currently, visas to Qatar are not normally issued to Czech subjects. Current information is available on the website, see the website of the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Kuwait (mzv.cz). In special cases, ZÚ Kuwait can help with the provision of so-called “business trips” and thus achieve exceptional entry into the country for Czech entrepreneurs.
Employment of citizens from the Czech Republic
Qatar is a country dependent on foreign labor due to the total number of local population which is not enough to cover the needs of the country in their development programs. You can work in various sectors of industry and services, but a work permit is required for foreigners. However, this work permit can only be secured by a local sponsor of Qatari nationality, either personally or as a Qatari registered company. The best working conditions, including the salary, are mainly achieved by experts from the USA, Great Britain, Germany, France and other Western European countries. Conditions and remuneration differ significantly both by field and by employer.
There are a number of health facilities in Qatar that are available to residents and visitors alike. However, visitors have to pay for treatment in state hospitals. Residents who have a valid HMC Health Card have treatment at a nominal cost. There is also a wide network of private medical facilities.
Fairs and events
Qatar is not a classic trade fair destination. The locally organized “fairs” do not have an international scope, are small in scale and are mainly focused on the sale of consumer goods to the end customer. Consumer goods fairs are usually held in February and March. The dominant organizer is the Qatar National Convention Centre.
Practical telephone numbers (emergency services, police, firemen, information lines, etc.)
- Emergency assistance (police, fire, ambulance): 999 from any telephone number in Qatar.
- Worldwide Emergency Number: 112
- Water and electricity emergency: 991
- Information on phone numbers: 180
DohaAirport (Qatar area code: +974):
- general information: 465-6666
- information desk: 465-6347
- departures and arrivals: 465-6347
Banks : l Ahli Bank of Qatar: 432-6611 l Arab Bank: 438-7777 l BNP Paribas: 437-8378 l Commercial Bank: 449-0222 l Doha Bank Ltd.: 445-6600 l HSBC: 438-2100 l International Bank of Qatar: 447-3700 l Qatar National Bank: 440-7407
Exchanges: l Almana Exchange: 462-1450 l Alfardan Exchange and Finance: 440-8214 l National Exchange: 441-6403 l City Exchange: 443-5060 l Gulf Finance and Exchange: 441-5692 l Habib Qatar International Finance: 432-8853
Courier Services : l ARAMEX: 450-6611 l DHL: 458-7888 l FedEx: 466-1722 l TNT: 462-2262 l UPS: 432-2444
Important web links and contacts
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs: www.mofa.gov.qa
- Ministry of Interior: www.moi.gov.qa
- Ministry of Energy and Industry: www.mei.gov.qa
- Ministry of Finance: www.mof.gov.qa
- Ministry of Culture and Sports: www.mcs.gov.qa
- Ministry of Health: www.moph.gov.qa
- Ministry of Religion and Islamic Affairs: www.islam.gov.qa
- Ministry of Youth and Sports: www.mcs.gov.qa
- Ministry of Economy and Trade: www.mec.gov.qa
- Ministry of Justice: www.moj.gov.qa
- Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs: www.adlsa.gov.qa
- Ministry of Planning, Development and Statistics: www.mdps.gov.qa
- Ministry of Education and Higher Education: www.moe.edu.qa
- Ministry of Local Government and Environment: www.mme.gov.qa
- Ministry of Transport and Communications: www.motc.gov.qa
- Development Planning Secretariat: www.planning.gov.qa
- Ministry of Defense: www.gco.gov.qa
Chamber of Commerce: The Qatar Chamber of Commerce is the oldest chamber of commerce in the GCC states (founded in 1963) and has a very important position. Representatives of the most influential business families alternate in the chamber’s board of directors. The Qatar Chamber of Commerce has at its disposal basic information about registered companies, their capital, validity of licenses, owners, etc., but also information of a general business nature. Qatar Chamber POBox 402, Doha – Qatar Tel: 974-455-9111 Fax: 974-466-1693, 466-1697 Email: [email protected], [email protected]
Banks and financial institutions:
- Qatar Central Bank: www.qcb.gov.qa
- Qatar National Bank: www.qnb.com.qa
- Qatar Financial Center: www.qfc.com.qa
- QNA – Qatar News Agency (main news agency): www.qnaol.net
- Arabic daily Al-Watan: www.al-watan.com
- Arabic daily Al-Sharq: www.al-sharq.com
- Arabic daily Al-Raya: www.raya.com
- English newspaper Gulf Times: www.gulf-times.com
- English newspaper The Peninsula: www.thepeninsulaqatar.com
- Al-Jazeera Television: www.aljazeera.net