New Qatar financial city will be open to non-licensed foreign firms

The Qatar Financial Center (QFC), which licences foreign companies to exempt them from local ownership laws, will move to a new complex next year shared with non-licensed foreign and local firms, its head said on Tuesday.

The QFC is one of two authorities under which 100 per cent foreign owned companies can operate in Qatar. Without licences from these entities, foreign firms typically require a local partner to own at least a 51 per cent stake.

Yousef Al Jaida, the head of the centre, said the QFC would relocate in mid-2017 to Msheireb Downtown Doha.

“Unlike other financial zones in the region, this new financial city will be open to all businesses, local and international, and will not be exclusively restricted to QFC licensed firms,” QFC said.

The QFC said Qatar’s foreign ownership rules will not change.

Mr Al Jaidah said the relocation was “to support Qatar in its efforts to diversify national income sources by facilitating the incorporation of new companies in a competitive business environment and helping local companies expand”.

The QFC, currently located in Doha’s West Bay financial district, has about 300 firms registered, including international banks such as Citigroup and Deutsche Bank. Firms are covered by QFC’s own regulatory authority.

Msheireb is 6km away from West Bay and is situated closer to the international airport and government district.

The world’s top LNG exporter and one of the richest countries per capita in the world, is also trying to mitigate a projected 46.5 billion Qatari riyal (Dh52.54bn) budget deficit for 2016.

Qatar has also sought to boost other areas of its economy to mitigate the shortfall. In June, a draft law was approved by Qatar’s cabinet setting up three special economic zones that will allow for 100 per cent overseas ownership.

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