Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) was set up in 2005 to attract international financial institutions and firms to establish business operations in a ‘best‑in‑class’ international environment. There are two independent bodies: the QFC Authority (QFCA) and the QFC Regulatory Authority (QFCRA). To operate in or from the QFC, a firm needs to be incorporated or registered by the QFC Companies Registration Office, licensed by the QFCA, and for regulated activities, authorised by the QFCRA.
Advantages of establishment in the QFC include:
• Firms in the QFC are subject to a separate legal, regulatory, tax and business environment.
• Allows 100% foreign ownership and 100% repatriation of profits.
• Only 10% corporate tax on locally sourced profits.
There are currently more than 650 local and international companies in the QFC, comprising investment and private banking, (re)insurance and asset management firms (each of which is regulated); and consultancy service providers, law firms and financial services recruitment firms (which are non‑regulated).
An enhanced registration process was introduced in August 2017 with just four steps, allowing complete registration applications to be reviewed and processed within five business days. Firms are given a dedicated relationship manager and offered support in setting up. qfc.com.qa
The QFCA is the commercial arm of the QFC, responsible for leading the expansion of Qatar’s financial services sector and for developing relationships with the regional and global financial community. The QFCA’s strategy focuses on the creation of a global business hub for three core markets – Asset Management, Reinsurance and Captive Insurance.
The QFC announced in February 2019 its new strategy for achieving its targets for 2022, which includes the registration of 1,000 firms and a focus on specific service industries and new emerging markets with a combined value of over USD2.1 tn. The QFC has an attractive incentives programme to tempt multinational companies to Qatar by offering free offices, highly-competitive tax incentives, and seed capital to cover five years of operating expenses in return for a 10-year commitment.
The QFCRA is the independent regulatory body of the QFC, overseeing all firms conducting financial services in or from the QFC, as a combined banking, insurance and markets regulator. In 2012, the QCB Governor took over the chairmanship of QFCRA, as part of a plan to establish a single financial regime, comprising QFCRA, QFMA, QE, QCB, and the Supreme Judicial Council. qfcra.com
The Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Centre (QICDRC) consists of the QFC Civil and Commercial Court (First Instance and Appellate Divisions) and the QFC Regulatory Tribunal. The Court has consensual jurisdiction to hear disputes between parties from anywhere around the world and mandatory jurisdiction to hear disputes between entities registered in the QFC. There is a purpose built Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) centre. qicdrc.com.qa