The Business Year

As the government cuts red tape and accelerates investment-friendly policies, local legal expertise has never been more important.

Faisal Rashid Al-Sahouti

CEO, Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Center (QICDRC)

Arbitration is extremely important for any business doing its due diligence before opening operations in a new country. Over the last five years, Qatar has focused on preparing for an environment of arbitration. For that reason, we issued in 2017 Law No. 2, a new arbitration law based on the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), which opened the doors for everyone to have access to this new jurisdiction. It is not necessary for a business here to arbitrate in Qatar; however, it is more favorable if we have a local seat offering international practices. We now have more international arbitration becoming local. This is an important step for the business environment, not only for Qatar, but the entire region. The new arbitration law allows companies to have access to the civil and commercial courts where they explicitly elect it to be the supervisory court of the arbitration. Our essential jurisdiction is to serve Qatar Financial Center (QFC). Our jurisdiction holds cases of a dispute between two QFC firms, or one party a QFC firm, and one not. Companies doing business with QFC firms need to understand that any dispute will be brought directly to this court. We also have a Regulatory Tribunal under the QICDRC that consists of five judges headed by Sir David Keene and specializes in individual/company-government cases. This is extremely important, as it sends a key message that one will be served in a just way no matter if their counterpart is the government or a company.

Sultan Al-Abdulla

Managing Partner, Sultan Al-Abdulla & Partners

Although there is a new law, the role of law firms will not necessarily change, and we will still advise foreign firms on setting up shop in Qatar. However, not all of our work for these firms is related to foreign investment. In addition to assisting them with the setup options in Qatar, we are also assisting them with the review of their commercial contracts, labor and employment issues, and many other matters that require assistance. What we are expecting as a result of the new foreign investment law is an increase in the inflow of business into Qatar and more entities looking to having some sort of a presence in the Qatari market, at least in the coming two or three years ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2022. Otherwise, the changes made in Qatari labor law not only touched on the relationship between employees and employers, but also effected the wellbeing of laborers in particular. The first major change was the wage protection system introduced a couple of years ago, meant to ensure that laborers and employees are paid in a timely fashion. Another significant matter was the relaxation of the exit permit restrictions. The authorities have almost totally abolished that system, and, at present, employees do not have to seek the approval of their employers in order to exit Qatar. Then, there is the workers support and insurance fund, which was issued in 2018 to provide care for workers when their employers are unable to provide support because of financial difficulties.

Rashid Al Saad Al Kuwari

Senior Partner, Rashid Al Saad Al Kuwari

Qatar has always understood the importance of attracting international companies to conduct and carry out business in the country. Especially with Qatar hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, it became vital to have international companies bring their experience to develop and execute various projects. This affected law firms in several ways, mainly, through the requirement to have a team of diverse members in terms of culture, language, background, experience, and education that can meet the expectations of different companies and international parties. Second, law firms had to build a larger team due to the size of work assigned as a result of the booming economy. Finally, increased competition meant law firms had to introduce attractive modules of services and a better quality of service to grow and shine in the market. Sharq has extensive experience in the field of capital markets and IPOs, as the firm has been a leading player in major IPOs over the past few years. As a local law firm with an international outreach, Sharq has been able to advise clients on the best structure to establish a company or transform a limited liability company/private shareholding company into a public shareholding one. We have not just helped with the establishment phase but have played a constant active role in advising clients with due diligence or prospectuses in order to ensure a smooth efficient process.

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