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Doing Business in Qatar ( QNB 2009 Report )

Qatar Financial Centre

1. Background
3. Qatar Financial Centre Authority
4. Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority
5. Doing Business with the QFC
6. The Application Process


1. Background
The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC ) is a financial and business centre established by the Government of Qatar and located in Doha. The QFC was formally opened on 1 May 2005, and by October 2008 was successful in attracting over 96 regional and international financial services institutions and major multi-national corporations to participate in the growing market for financial services in Qatar and elsewhere in the region. In particular, the QFC aims to establish Qatar as an attractive environment for a wide range of financial services in the Gulf region.

The QFC operates to international standards and provides a first class legal and business infrastructure for those doing business within the centre. The QFC ’s commercial and regulatory environment and systems conform to international best practices and are separate from and independent of the host Qatari systems. The standards required and the legal environment will be familiar to businesses currently operating in major financial centres around the world.

The Centre is led by a commercial authority and a regulator - the QFC Authority and the QFC Regulatory Authority respectively, which are independent of each other. The QFC Authority is responsible for commercial strategy and for developing relationships with the global financial community and other key institutions both within and outside Qatar. The Regulatory Authority has a broad range of powers to authorise, supervise and, where necessary, discipline regulated firms and individuals who operate in or from the QFC.

Both the QFC Authority and the Regulatory Authority have a function of recommending appropriate legislation to achieve their objectives, and have certain rule-making powers. The QFC provides mechanisms for resolving disputes between QFC firms and their counter-parties and for arbitration or the formal resolution of civil disputes before a Tribunal, in effect a commercial court, operating to high judicial standards. It has also created an Appeals Body to allow firms affected by particular decisions of the Regulatory Authority to have those decisions reviewed.

2. Qatar Financial Centre Authority
The Qatar Financial Centre Authority is responsible for the commercial strategy and business development of the centre and provides its administrative functions. The QFC Authority is governed by a Board which is chaired by the Minister of Economy and Commerce. Stuart Pearce is CEO and Director General of the QFC Authority.
The principal objectives of the QFC Authority are:
• to develop and promote the Qatar Financial Centre as a leading location for international finance and business.
• to promote and act in accordance with international best practice and eliminate bureaucracy to the maximum extent
• to ensure the financial stability of the QFC
• to participate in consultation with the QFC Regulatory Authority and the QFC Appeals Body in the establishment and maintenance of the QFC legal and regulatory environment

One of the QFC Authority’s most important roles is to approve and issue licenses to individuals, businesses and other entities that wish to incorporate or establish in the Centre. Businesses wishing to undertake financial services will also require authorisation from the QFC Regulatory Authority.


3. Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority
The QFC Regulatory Authority is an independent statutory body, which reports directly to the Council of Ministers. It regulates and supervises the full spectrum of financial services activities conducted in or from the QFC. These include all types of banking, insurance, asset management, financial advisory services, securities and derivatives dealing, and Islamic finance. The Chairman of the QFC Regulatory Authority is Phillip Thorpe.

Among the principal objectives of the QFC Regulatory Authority are:
• the promotion and maintenance of efficiency, transparency and integrity of the QFC.
• the promotion and maintenance of confidence in the QFC.
• prevention, detection and restraint of conduct which may cause damage to the QFC’s reputation.
• provision of appropriate protection of those licensed to carry on business in the QFC and their clients and customers.
• ensuring the Regulatory Authority is run with a view to operating at all times in accordance with best international standards applicable, and establishing the QFC as a leading financial and business centre in the Middle East.

4. Doing Business with the QFC
Activities which are permitted to be carried out in or from the QFC fall into two categories - ‘regulated activities’ (essentially financial services) and ‘non-regulated’ activities. All firms wishing to conduct permitted activities need to apply to the QFCA for a licence. Firms planning to conduct regulated activities also need to apply to the QFC Regulatory Authority for authorisation. Firms wishing to conduct non-regulated activities will need to apply to the QFC Authority for a license through a simple process. ‘Non-regulated’ activities that may be considered for licensing include business activities of company headquarters, management offices , treasury operations , and company administration; investment grading and other grading services; and professional services including (but not limited to) audit, accounting, tax, consulting and legal services.

5. The Application Process
The QFC operates a streamlined application process for those seeking to establish in the QFC and who therefore need to register with the QFC Companies Registration Office (CRO), obtain a licence from the QFC Authority and (in the case of financial services businesses) authorisation from the QFC Regulatory Authority. The process has been designed to allow the applicant firm to make a single application to the QFC Regulatory Authority which will initiate the process for the CRO, QFC Authority and, if applicable, the QFC Regulatory Authority.

Firms will need to complete form Q02 (available on the QFC Regulatory Authority website at www.qfcra.com), which asks for detailed corporate information as well as information relevant to the business that the firm wants to do. Upon receipt of an application form and application fee the QFC Regulatory Authority will start the assessment process. The actual time it takes to process an application will
depend on the nature, scale and complexity of the firm’s proposed activities and the completeness of the information in the application form. The QFC Regulatory Authority has a target processing time of 90 days for applications.

An up to date list of firms licensed to operate from the Qatar Financial Centre is available in the Public Register which can be found via the homepage of the QFC Authority website. Further details of the application process and authorisation process can be obtained from the website of the QFC Regulatory Authority.

Contact Details
Qatar Financial Centre Authority ....................................... Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority
PO Box 23245 .................................................................... PO Box 22989
Doha, Qatar ........................................................................ Doha, Qatar
Tel: +974 496 7777 .............................................................. Tel: +974 494 5433
Fax: +974 496 7676 ............................................................ Fax: +974 483 5031
Email: info@qfc.com.qa ....................................................... Email: info@qfcra.com
www.qfc.com.qa .................................................................. www.qfcra.com

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