Qatar free zones in 2021
Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP)
Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) is ideal for tech and innovation start-ups. Existing tenants include multi-nationals such as Chevron, Cisco, GE, Microsoft, Rolls-Royce, Tata, ExxonMobil, Vodafone, Shell and Williams F1.
Advantages of setting up a business in QSTP
Setting up Qatari business in the QSTP
- QSTP-resident companies can be 100% foreign-owned;
- QSTP-licenced companies are legally tax-exempt in Qatar, and pay no customs duties on goods imports/exports;
- While it is mandatory to rent an office in QSTP, it is not necessary to hire local staff;
- QSTP-licenced companies often partner with the local branches of reputable global universities like Cornell, Georgetown, Texas A&M and Carnegie Mellon. As a result, they are able to benefit from knowledge and research and development (R&D) activities;
- QSTP companies can freely repatriate capital and profits from Qatar to other countries;
- QSTP companies can access Qatar’s 60 double tax treaties, thereby minimising withholding tax;
- Eligible QSTP start-ups can access funding schemes.
Best uses of a QSTP company
- Because QSTP companies have access to accelerator programs and incubation centres in the park, it is ideal for start-ups in i) energy ii) environment iii) health science iv) information communication technology (ICT).
Criteria to set up a business in QSTP
- To obtain a QSTP licence, the majority of the company’s activities must contribute to advancing science and technology;
- Projects that collaborate with universities and research institutes in Qatar are encouraged;
- Licences are granted on a case-by-case basis. The assessment will be based on i) scope of business activities ii) scale of investment iii) the number of individuals benefitting from education or training via the project, iv) the number of staff directly employed in technology development, technology consulting or R&D.
Steps to complete QSTP business setup
- To set up a business in QSTP, applicants must submit i) a detailed business plan and ii) research plans to QSTP management. See entry criteria here;
- Once QSTP approval is granted, the applicant chooses whether they wish to incorporate an LLC or register a branch office. QSTP LLCs must have at least one shareholder and a minimum capital of US$55,000;
- Once the entity is setup and licence approval has been granted, the applicants must sign a lease agreement within QSTP;
- A QSTP company must submit annual audited financial statements to QSTP management;
- The licence is renewable annually.