Now on the books: A look at new laws and recent regulatory developments

Several new laws and regulations were introduced in 2011 and 2012 that will affect businesses operating in Qatar. A brief summary of these new laws and recent regulatory developments is set out here.

REAL ESTATE: Law No. 13 of 2011 was promulgated in July 2011. The purpose of the law is to regulate the business of real estate brokerage services in the country. Pursuant to the provisions of the law, real estate brokers are required to be licensed prior to providing their services. Generally only Qatari citizens 18 years of age or older are eligible for licensing. Furthermore, real estate brokers must also obtain the approval of the property owner prior to offering the property for sale or lease. Practising real estate brokerage without a licence can incur a penalty of up to QR50,000 ($13,730).

HEALTH, SAFETY & ENVIRONMENT: The significant increase in infrastructure projects in Qatar has highlighted the need for a robust health, safety and environment (HSE) legal regime. Consequently, the Cabinet issued Resolution No. 16 of 2011 establishing the National Committee of Occupational Health and Safety at the Ministry of Labour.

ADVERTISING: Law No. 1 of 2012 regulates and controls the placement and content of advertisements and billboards. Pursuant to the law, an advertisement or other form of promotion must first be licensed by the Qatari municipality authorities. Obtaining a licence will generally require the applicant to pay the applicable fees and obtain the relevant insurance as determined by the municipality.

A licensed advertisement must be in Arabic, although other languages may also be used, provided that their use complies with the rules and regulations of the relevant municipality.

REGULATORY UNIFICATION: In 2011 the establishment of a single regulator in Qatar was confirmed, an announcement which took the form of an statement that the regulatory functions of the Qatar Financial Centre, Qatar Financial Markets Authority and the Qatar Central Bank (QCB) in relation to banking, insurance, securities, asset management and other financial services, would be unified under the supervision of the QCB.

Subsequently, on March 13, 2012 the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority (QFCRA) announced the composition of its new board of directors following their appointment by the Council of Ministers. Among its members is Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud Al Thani, governor of the QCB, who will act as the new chairman of the board. The appointment of central bank’s governor to the QFCRA board has been seen by some in the financial services sector as the first practical step toward the realisation of a unified regulatory body in Qatar.

HEALTH CARE: In March 2012 the Supreme Council of Health (SCH), the governmental entity responsible for the development and implementation of the proposed Social Health Insurance Scheme (SHIS), revealed initial details regarding the ways in which the scheme will be implemented.

The SHIS will be rolled out in five phases. The pilot programme of the SHIS will be launched around November 2012, followed by additional phased roll-outs to be completed by the end of 2014. The pilot programme will initially provide cover to approximately 75,000 Qatari women aged 15 years and above. The second stage of the SHIS is planned for July 2013 and will extend coverage to include all Qatari nationals and provide access to primary health care facilities and certain private sector participants.

In October 2013 the third stage will be implemented entitling all Qatari nationals to basic services from all health care providers in Qatar. By May 2014 the fourth stage will extend coverage under SHIS to all services in the private sector and half of the services available on an outpatient basis.

OBG would like to thank Clyde & Co for their contribution to THE REPORT Qatar 2012

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The Report: Qatar 2012

Legal Framework chapter from The Report: Qatar 2012

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