Industrial free zones
Currently, the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) is the only free zone in the country. As the name suggests, QTSP companies pursue science technology related activities in the zone. Existing tenants in the zone include multi-national companies like Chevron, Cisco, GE, Microsoft, Rolls-Royce, Tata, ExxonMobil, Vodafone, Shell, and Williams F1.
- Entities incorporated in the QTSP are not required to have Qatari nationals as shareholders. As a result, a QTSP resident company can be 100% foreign owned;
- Companies licensed in the QTSP are not subject to any taxes in Qatar. Furthermore, licensed companies will not pay custom duties on import/export of goods;
- While it is mandatory to rent a free zone office at a low rent, it is not necessary to hire staff. However, if companies need to hire employees, they will face no restrictions or quotas when hiring foreigners;
- QSTP licensed companies will be allowed to partner with Qatar branches of reputable universities like Cornell, Georgetown, Texas A&M and Carnegie Mellon with regards to R&D activities. Also, QTSP companies will be allowed to work outside the zone without assistance of a local agent;
- Lastly, companies will face no restrictions on repatriation of capital and profits from Qatar to other countries. Furthermore, companies will be allowed access to the country’s 58 double tax treaties which may assist in minimizing withholding taxes;
Criteria to enter QSTP
- To be licensed in the QSTP, the majority of an entity’s activities must contribute to the advancement of science and technology. Projects that collaborate with Qatar’s universities and research institutes are particularly encouraged;
- Permits are granted on a case-by-case basis. The assessment will be based on certain metrics including i) scope of the business activity ii) staff employed for the QSTP work iii) monetary investment in the projects and iv) individuals educated or trained under the project;
- Activities permitted in the QSTP (commercial or otherwise) must be related to science and technology. Commercial operations like i) manufacturing and ii) warehousing are not permitted;
Qatar business setup in QSTP
- In order to setup in the QSTP, applicants will be required to submit i) a detailed business plan and ii) research plans to the QSTP management. The management will assess if the plans satisfy the Entry Criteria and Permitted Uses;
- Once QSTP approval is received, the applicant chooses whether they wish to incorporate an LLC or register a branch office. QSTP LLCs must have at least two shareholders and a minimum capital of US$55,000;
- Once, the entity is setup and license approval is secured, the applicants must conclude a lease agreement in the zone;
- Company licenses are renewable annually after laws are complied with including submitting annual audited financial statements to the QSTP management.