Which visa or permit is required is determined by the purpose of the visit, the duration and also the applicant’s nationality. There are a variety of visas available to cover most scenarios. Qualifications, work experiences and skill set, also have to be factored in; some occupations are in more demand than others.
Main Visa categories
Tourist Visa. GCC countries’ citizens (not residents) and many foreigners can travel to Qatar without a visa, collecting an ‘On Arrival’ visa stamp in their passports at the airport. Length of stay depends on nationality and some extensions are available. For others, a visa should be applied for at a local consulate or embassy before their trip. This link provides a tool to check whether a visa is required and when. https://visitqatar.com/intl-en/practical-info/visas
Business Visa. There are two types. 72-hour visa (extendable for a further 72 hours for short term business trips which requires paperwork to be carried at all times in Qatar for such as conferences, meetings, contract signings etc. Or standard business visa which can be used by new expatriate employees or short-term contracted workers for a limited time of three months which must be applied for in advance through a company or organisation registered in Qatar
Short Term Work Visa. For one to three months maximum. An employment contract and sponsor are necessary. It is a single visa for urgent work to allow entry and exit when the project is finished. Biometrics and medical tests are required
Investor Visa or Golden Visa. A visa which allows residency without an employer or employment contract. Money can be invested in certain business projects, and they require ownership documentation along with a police report of good conduct and a clear medical report. This visa can be completed online through the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Ministry of Interior. Property investment of US$200,000. Business investment US$1 million minimum https://www.qatarcompanyformation.com/qatar-investor-visa
GCC Resident Visit Visa. For one month through an embassy or consulate abroad for those with approved professions. Visa renewable for a further 60 days but holders should have paperwork with them during the visit to validate their profession. For example, a Filipino living in a GCC country can apply for this visa but must enter from the GCC country of residence https://www.dohaguides.com/qatar-visa-on-arrival-for-gcc-residents/
Family Visit Visa. For expatriate workers who want visit from family (up to a maximum of six months). The visa is valid for 30 days but can be extended to 180 days for spouse and children or up to three months for other relatives. However, for the extension, holders must pass a medical check-up
Family Residence Visa. For those qualifying workers who wish to have their immediate families live in Qatar. Employees must have been working for their employer for more than six months with a minimum monthly wage of QAR 10,000 (€2,575, US$2,746), and who have residence visa and Qatar ID. This visa comes under the sponsorship system and can be for one to five years
Others include Transit Visa, Education Residence Visa, Real Estate Visa, Return Visa.
Note: A Temporary Work Visa was introduced in 2019 but not all the details were implemented immediately. It is supposed to help companies employ short-term workers for urgent and seasonal work and is easier to obtain than the Business Visa and Long-term work visa which is dependent on work permit and residence permit applications. This should be multi-entry and a more streamlined process.
Applying for the Work Visas and Work Permits
The Work Visa paperwork to apply for the Temporary (employment) Visa to enter Qatar and the Residence Work Permit (RP) to be allowed to live and work in the country are handled by the employer who is the sponsor. Although there were reforms to the ‘Kafala’ system in 2020, generally it is still handled and paid for by employers on behalf of the employees.
The two authorities that handle the immigration and visa issues are the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Labour.
Generally, the typical Temporary (employment) Visa to enter the country is through company sponsorship, unless hiring domestic staff or foreigners are investors.
Covers foreign/expat workers coming to Qatar to work for the government, public sector organisations, and private establishments or companies
Issued for one to three months and is for entering the country while employees wait for their employers to convert the visa to a Work Residence Permit
Require notarised or legalised academic qualifications, translated into Arabic, to prove they are qualified for the position or profession
Police good conduct report issued in the country of residence and notarised by consulate or embassy or authorised centre
Requires an employment contract between the two parties which has been submitted to the Ministry of Labour (MOL)
Medical check and report from outside Qatar
Typical documents required:
Application form completed and signed from the MOL
Medical certificate with details of blood group, checking for HIV and hepatitis
Copy of worker’s passport valid for six months
Up to four recent colour photos along passport guidelines
Foreigner’s biometrics, which include fingerprints
A good conduct or report from the police of country who issued the passport
All relevant academic qualifications or technical certificates and proof of any required work experience which require Arabic translations
Employment Income Tax: Tax is not levied on wages, salaries, remuneration or allowances of employed individuals.
Self-employment Income Tax: This is levied at 10% on income sourced in Qatar, regardless of the individuals’ residency.
Value Added Tax (VAT): In accord with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Value Added Tax framework, Qatar was expected to introduce VAT at a standard rate of 5% and a reduced rate of 0%.
Corporate Income Tax (CIT): The standard rate is 10%, but is 35% on activities related to oil.
Capital Gains Tax (CGT): Non-residents sourcing capital gains in Qatar are taxed at 10%, with returns submitted within 30 days of the sale or concluding a contract.
Withholding Tax (WHT): A rate of 5% to all services carried out wholly or in part in Qatar, and also applies to royalties, commissions and fees related to services.
Customs Duties and Import Tariffs: Apply at various rates on goods imported from outside the GCC.
Luxury and Excise Taxes: Under the Excise Tax Law, following rates apply: Tobacco products (100%); carbonated drinks (excl. water) 50%; energy drinks (100%); special purpose goods, anticipated tax of 100% to be decided by the Ministry of Finance and Customs.
Other taxes: There are no taxes on net wealth; inheritance, gifts or estate. There are no property taxes but the government may collect fees when properties or leases are registered.
Employment Income Tax in Qatar
Qatar does not impose personal income tax on salaries, wages, remuneration and allowances.
Self-employed individuals are liable for taxation at 10% on profits.
Individual Tax Rules in Qatar
The tax year is generally the calendar year, but taxpayers can apply to the GTA for alternative assessment years
Individuals are considered tax residents if they have a permanent home in Qatar, have resided there for more than 183 days in any 12-month period or if their centre of interests is in Qatar
Although there is no personal tax on salaries etc., an individual’s business income is liable for taxation if it is derived in Qatar
All taxpayers carrying out business activities in Qatar must apply to the GTA for a tax card within 60 days
Employers’ and Employees’ Pension (Social Insurance) and Statutory Contributions in Qatar
The pension regime is in effect the only fund that attracts contributions. The employer’s contribution is generally 10%, but can be at a rate applicable to the work location’ retirement scheme. The employee’s share is 5%, but where the employer’s contribution is less than 10%, the employee makes up the difference. The employer remits contributions to the General Retirement and Pension Authority each month. The employer is under no obligation to make contributions on behalf of expatriate employees.
International companies expanding their global reach have the option of setting up a subsidiary in their new territory. Setting up a legal entity in Qatar is a necessary move for companies intending to run their own payroll in the country.
Qatar’s national wealth and the prosperity of its citizens is based on natural resources of oil and gas, with Qatar being the world’s No. 1 producer and exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG). The Qatar National Vision 2030 aims to create a far wider business environment, to encourage more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into an increasingly diversified, modern, digitally aware and tech-savvy economy.
Opening a subsidiary is often the next ‘big step’ for foreign companies, and in Qatar they usually take the form of a limited company. Initial decisions must take into account Qatar’s dual corporate legal system. The State of Qatar’s domestic corporate legislation is governed by the Commercial Companies Law (CCL), while the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) has its own corporate regime and is regulated by the QFC Regulatory Authority (QFCRA).
The incorporation process is protracted and companies undertaking the procedure themselves must cope with strict incorporation procedures, which can vary between the CCL and QFCRA. Additionally, in Qatar recruitment issues surround work permits, visas and residency qualifications and the ‘kafala’ sponsorship system, which is undergoing reform. Running payroll and complying with tax and employment legislation requires a thorough understanding of the relevant laws. Working through this long list will cost time as you try to become operational in a new territory.
Or … you could take the fastest route into the Qatari economy, with no need to open a subsidiary. Bradford Jacobs’ Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) specialists and Employer of Record (EOR) consultants will point you in the right direction – from recruiting the staff to managing every legal aspect of compliance. Instead of waiting weeks or months, you can be up-and-running in days … while employees are always under your day-to-day control.
How to set up a Qatar Subsidiary
As applies to a foreign parent company opening a limited liability subsidiary.
Verify and reserve unique company name with the Commercial Registry and Trademark Department of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI)
Register business with the Immigration Department of the General Directorate of Borders, Passports and Expatriate Affairs at the Ministry of Interior (MOI)
Obtain an Immigration Card from the MOI to be able to sponsor employees
Receive Representative Card from the Ministry, authorising an employee to liaise with the Immigration Department
Supply notarised Articles of Association to the Commercial Registry, authenticated by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and create a company seal
Obtain necessary trade licenses from the MOCI
Note: Different minimum share capital requirements will apply depending on the sector of operations and whether the company is established under the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority (QFCRA) or under the Commercial Companies Law (CCL) in the State of Qatar.
What are the Benefits of setting up a Subsidiary in Qatar?
The subsidiary in Qatar benefits the parent company by operating as an independent legal entity, which generally protects the owning company from responsibility for any debts or liabilities, including legal issues. Shareholders are liable only to the equivalent of their investment and their personal assets are also protected.
Through its subsidiary the parent company has the chance to test the market by pursuing different business opportunities and entering into agreements with other registered companies in the State of Qatar as well as the Qatar Financial Centre, which imposes a different corporate regime. Also, the subsidiary has greater credibility with clients and suppliers compared with branches, which foreign companies can only open in Qatar if they have a government contract.
However, taking the step of opening a subsidiary is still a long way from finding the most efficient and financially sensible route to setting up operations in Qatar and dealing with red tape.
Bradford Jacobs will locate the perfect fit and brightest talent for your expansion in Qatar through our in-country Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) specialists. Employees can be working at their desk in days … not weeks. Our Employer of Record (EOR) teams remove all concerns regarding employment laws and compliance. We handle the hassle … while you have day-to-day operational control over your workforce.
Subsidiary Regulations in Qatar
Regulations and minimum share capital requirements depend on whether companies register in the State of Qatar under the Commercial Companies Law (CCL) or in the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) under the QFC Regulatory Authority. In the case of a CCL company, minimum share capital is QAR 200,000 (€52,250, US$54,930).
Registration and Documentation:
The unique name for the subsidiary must be reserved and registered with the Commercial Registry and Trademark Department at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI). The name must relate to the company’s activities
Registration is required with the Department of the General Directorate of Borders, Passports and Expatriate Affairs at the Ministry of Interior (MOI)
Required documentation includes the Immigration Card, enabling employers to sponsor employees, and is obtained from the MOI
Notarised Articles of Association must include details of the company’s operations; names, nationalities, domicile, address and shareholdings of all members; nationalities of managers
Create a company seal
Companies must submit workplace rules and disciplinary procedures to the Ministry of Manpower if they have more than 10 employees
Accounts and Taxation:
Register with the General Tax Authority (GTA) and obtain the company tax ID number in order to pay corporate taxes
Under the Auditor’s Law No. 30 (2004), the limited liability company must appoint auditors, who operate according to the company’s Articles of Association and the CCL
Auditors present an annual report to shareholders, itemising accounts and inventories
Accounts must be filed with the Companies Registration Office (CRO)
The initial accounting period must be more than six months but less than 18 months
The tax year is the calendar year, but the company can apply to the Ministry of Finance for a different fiscal
Each year the company must put 10% of profits in a legal reserve
The LLC must have at least one shareholder/member if registered in the QFC
Companies registered under the CCL have between two and 50 shareholders/members
The appointed manager(s) has full authority to run the company, and in Qatar law is in effect regarded as a director. Their responsibilities are laid out in the Articles of Association
International companies entering the Qatar market will be expanding into a small country that lies on the shores of the Persian Gulf, where pearl harvesting and fishing comprised its traditional trade with neighbouring nations. Then, in 1939, the discovery of oil transformed Qatar from one of the world’s poorest nations, to one where today Gross National Income per capita is among the highest. Prosperity flows from oil exports and being the world’s leading producer and exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Qatar is a peninsular stretching into the Persian Gulf, approximately 100 miles from north to south and 50 miles from east to west. Southern Qatar has a land border with Saudi Arabia, lies north and west of the United Arab Emirates, with the island state of Bahrain located off its northern shore.
A low desert land – its highest point of Abū-al-Bawl stands only 103 metres above sea level – is dominated by dunes and salt flats in the south, with hills rising gently to 40 metres along the north and west coasts. Temperatures can climb to 50⁰C from June till September, but cool to the mid-60⁰ range in spring and autumn. Annual rainfall rarely exceeds three inches.
The capital, Doha, features spectacular and futuristic architecture common to the Gulf States, including such as the National Museum, the Museum of Islamic Art and the National Library. Spectacular hotels, many built for soccer’s 2022 World Cup, exist alongside traditional Bedouin areas such as the Souq Waqif.
Starting your business in Qatar
International companies intending to explore the potential of Qatar by setting up a subsidiary must first decide which business structure best suits their plans … and which corporate system they intend to operate under.
Foreign companies setting up a subsidiary in Qatar have the choice of two legal systems. The State of Qatar’s domestic corporate law is governed by the Commercial Companies Law (CCL), while the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) has its own corporate regime and is regulated by the QFC Regulatory Authority (QFCRA).
The QFCRA allows ‘regulated activities’, such as finance, banking, investment and insurance, and ‘unregulated activities’ including shipping, head office business activities and administration. Entities established in the QFC can be 100% foreign-owned.
Companies established under the CCL in the State of Qatar are generally restricted to 49% foreign ownership, with 51% of shares held by Qatari nationals. The Ministry of Commerce and Investment (MOCI) may approve increased foreign investment in sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, health, education and tourism and exploitation of natural resources.
Foreign companies opening a subsidiary typically choose a limited liability company (LLC) as their business vehicle. In the QFC, minimum share capital of applies to regulated activities, but not for unregulated activities after passing solvency criteria. Under the CCL, minimum share capital of QAR 200,000 (€52,250, US$54,930) for an LLC.
The MOCI oversees all commercial and industrial activities in Qatar, and generally is interested only in allowing multinationals the option of opening a subsidiary in Qatar, if they commit to significant investment and to hire locally. The MOCI is also responsible for approving and issuing all business licences.
Foreign companies also have the option of opening a branch with a Qatari partner, without being regulated under the Companies Law, but the parent company must have an existing contract with a Qatar ministry, government authority, public body or institution.
However, there is an alternative to opening a subsidiary and dealing with these complications and restrictions. This is the point at which the wise move is to link with a Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) and Employer of Record (EOR) such as Bradford Jacobs. We can take care of recruitment, onboarding, payroll … and much more. They are all dealt with while you focus on building your business in your new market in Qatar.
The subsidiary in Qatar will operate under the Commercial Companies Law.
Incorporation procedures typically include:
Registering the business with the Immigration Department of the General Directorate of Borders, Passports and Expatriate Affairs at the Ministry of Interior in order to obtain an Immigration Card enabling the employer to sponsor employees
Obtain Representative Card from the Ministry authorising an employer to liaise with the Immigration Dept
Verifying unique company name with the Commercial Registry and Trademark Department of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI)
The company name must be relevant to the business activities of the company or to the name of one or more of the partners
Register company with the MOCI
Provide notarised Articles of Association to the Commercial Registry and have them authenticated by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ)
The Articles must contain details of the company’s activities; names, nationalities, domicile, address and shareholdings of all members; nationalities of managers; methods for assigning profits and losses
Register with the General Tax Authority (GTA) for paying taxes
Apply for the corporate Tax Identification Number, which is issued with the company registration
Obtain necessary trade licences from the MOCI
Create a company seal
The company has a minimum of two shareholders/founders and a maximum of 50
Employers with 10 or more staff must submit its work regulations and disciplinary procedures to the Ministry of Manpower
Expanding your business into Qatar
The State of Qatar’s prosperity is based on the production and export of oil, hydrocarbons and natural gas, but it is looking to expand from these traditional – but finite – resources into a knowledge-based, forward-looking innovative economy and a major attraction for Foreign Direct Investment.
Qatar is the world’s No. 1 producer and exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), but outside of the strictly-regulated oil and gas sectors other investment opportunities exist in such as manufacturing, plastics, steel production, building and construction. The move to becoming a regional digital hub is accelerating growth in finance, insurance and real estate.
Qatar’s determination to be seen as major player in the world’s economic landscaped was highlighted by staging soccer’s 2022 World Cup. Controversy surrounded the tournament being staged there, but it is estimated to have had 1.4 million visitors and Qatar hopes it will act as the launch pad to attracting six million tourists annually by 2030.
Advantages and Challenges when entering the Qatar Market
Financial stability related to having the world’s third largest reserves of natural gas; being the largest export of liquefied natural gas and in the top 20 nations for oil exports
Low public debt and high per capita income among consumers
Low corporate tax rate, generally at 10%
Well-structured infrastructure and efficient logistics
Companies and real estate developers are permitted freehold ownership of property in 10 designated zones
Dependence on global prices for Qatar’s natural resources
Tensions with regional neighbours in the Gulf Cooperation Council remain a risk
Various sectors remain State-controlled, with restrictions on permitted level of foreign-investment
Lack of transparency over government procurement procedures
Restrictions on import licences, which may be allowed only to Qatari companies
Under the Labour Law, employment contracts for expatriate workers must be approved by the Department of Employment within the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and they must be drawn up on the standard template provided by the Department. Any amendments to the standard contract form must also be approved by the Department. Legally, written contracts are not mandatory but are strongly advised.
Different types of Qatar Employment Contracts
Open-ended, indefinite employment contract: The usual contract form, with a start date but no designated end date. After any probation period, either party can terminate with one month’s notice where there is less than five years’ service, or two months for more than five years
Fixed-term or temporary employment contract: Fixed-term contracts end on a specific date and cannot exceed five years, unless agreed by both parties. If they exceed term without the employee’s agreement they automatically become indefinite, and date back to the start of the original contract.
Job Completion or Casual Contracts: Apply to specific projects and should not exceed four weeks, but can be extended for the same period by mutual agreement.
Probation Periods: These cannot exceed six months and cannot be repeated. Employers must give one month’s notice. Probationers must give one month’s notice if they intend moving to a new employer in Qatar; two months if they intend leaving the country. Failure to comply involves compensation by either party.
Collective Agreements: Employees working in establishments where there are at least 100 Qatari workers are allowed to form labour committees. According to the Hukoomi Qatar e-Government site they are allowed to strike within provisions set out in the Labour Law, which allows one union, the General Union of Workers of Qatar.
Laws that regulate the Labour relationship
Employment legislation generally follows the Labour Law. However, some categories of employees are not covered by the law. These include: Employees of companies registered in the Qatar Finance Centre (QFC); employees of government and public institutions; petroleum and petrochemical industry workers; the armed forces and police and those employed at sea; domestic staff, who are covered by specific legislation; agricultural workers.
The Labour Law (No. 14/2004)
Law No. 21/2015 Regulating Entry, Exit and Residency of Expats
The Protection of Personal Data Privacy Law
The Labour Law is subject to many amendments and updates, usually identified only by a number and the year of the amendments, such as Law No. 20/2005, as an example. Laws can also be updated by ministerial decrees and resolutions.
General requirements for Contracts
Employers must comply with general requirements when drawing up contracts for their employees, as specified by the Labour Law. Legally, verbal agreements are valid but written contracts are strongly advised. Written contracts should be drawn up on the standard template from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MADLSA). The contract must include full details of employer and employee, including nationality of foreigners; job title and location; start date and type of contract; remuneration. Contracts should be in Arabic, with bilingual Arabic-English contracts acceptable. Three copies are held by the employer, employee and MADLSA.
The Labour Law and supplementary legislation specifies guaranteed minimums for employees’ benefits and entitlements in various categories.
What are the Compensation Laws?
National Minimum Wage (NMW): The minimum monthly wage, since March 2021, is QAR 1,000 (€260, US$275). Additionally, the Labour Law decrees that employers must pay a monthly supplementary QAR 300 (€77, US$82) for food and QAR 500 (€130, US$137) for accommodation if these are not adequately provided as part of the employment package.
Working Hours and Breaks: The working week is generally Sunday till Thursday. The regular working week should not exceed 48 hours, or eight hours a day over six days. During the holy month of Ramadan the limit is 36 hours a week or six per day. Where the nature of work demands extra hours these should not exceed 10 hours a day, with the extra hours counted as overtime. Breaks, not considered working hours, should be taken after five hours with time allowed for meals and prayer, where applicable. Friday generally is the guaranteed rest day, except for shift workers, and employees cannot be asked to work more than two consecutive Fridays. If required to work on the rest day, the employee receives a day off in lieu or is paid 50% above the normal hourly rate https://hukoomi.gov.qa/en/
Sick Leave and Benefits: The Labour Law dictates that employees are entitled to sick leave with pay only after three months with the employer; a medical must be provided by a physician approved by the employer. Sick leave is on full salary for the first two weeks, half pay for the next four weeks. Subsequent weeks are without pay until the worker returns or resigns. Before the six weeks expire, if the employee resigns due to incapacity as confirmed by a physician the employer pays the balance of benefit. After 12 weeks absence, employment can be terminated if a registered doctor confirms the employee is unfit for work.
Paid Vacations: Article 79 pf the Labour Law allows three working weeks paid vacation for those employed fewer than five years and four weeks for those employed over five years.
Public Holidays: Article 78 provides for official paid leave.
Overtime: Extra hours above eight per day are paid at least 25% above the normal hourly rate. Hours between 9pm and 6pm (except for shift workers) are paid at 50% above the normal rate. Staff required to work on a day of rest pare paid a 50% premium on their normal hourly rate or can take a day off in lieu.
Probation Periods: Trial periods are six months maximum and cannot be repeated. Employers must give one month’s notice. Probationers must give one month’s notice if leaving for a new employer in Qatar, or two months if leaving the country. Failure to comply, requires compensation by the offending party.
Notice Periods: One month’s notice applies after working up to two years, two months’ notice after working more than two years. Payment in lieu of notice is allowed.
Termination, Severance and Redundancies: Apart from termination for reasons such as resignation, incapacity through ill health or mutual agreement, Article 61 of the Labour Law gives specific examples where termination can be without notice. These include working under the influence of alcohol or absence without verifiable reason for seven consecutive days or 15 non-consecutive days. The law does not define general ‘misconduct’. Severance pay should include unused vacation pay, unpaid expenses, air ticket for repatriation if agreed between the parties. After one year’s employment the end-of-service-gratuity (EOSG) is a minimum of three weeks’ basic salary, adjusted pro rata for parts of a year. Mass redundancies for reasons not included in employment contracts, such as closure or business reasons, must be notified to the Ministry of Labour at least 15 days in advance with full details of timescale, numbers, reasons and categories of employees.
Maternity / Paternity / Parental Leave: Pregnant employees are permitted 50 calendar days leave on full pay, with the option to take an extra 60 days consecutively or not, if the employee becomes ill resulting from the pregnancy or birth. Up to 15 days can be taken before the due date and at least 35 days after. The employee must have worked for a full year with the employer. There is no statutory provision for paternity or parental leave or benefit.
13th Month Salary: There is no statutory requirement to pay a 13th month salary.
Pensions: Under the Retirement and Pension Law, the General Retirement and Social Insurance Authority (GRSIA) is responsible for collecting contributions from Qatari citizens only, employers and employees, to provide social protection and family members. Men and women must have made 15 years of contributions to receive a state pension when they reach 60 or 55 years respectively. Early retirement is possible at age 40, but still requires 15 years of contributions Employers generally contribute the equivalent of 10% of employees’ salaries, with employees contributing 5%. The scheme applies only to public sector government employees in such as ministries and public institutions, as determined by the GRSIA. Private sector employees are not eligible, leaving employers and employees to negotiate pension provisions as part of a company scheme.
Health Insurance: The Social Health Insurance Law (2013) provides basic healthcare for citizens and residents, requiring a health card to access facilities, including hospitals. Expats must obtain a residence permit before applying for a health card, although many companies run healthcare packages for their employees as part of their contract. Another option is to access Qatar’s high quality medical facilities through private insurance companies.
International companies expanding their operations into a new territory will need to recruit staff there. In Qatar, as with most other countries, the recruitment process is wrapped in red tape and bureaucracy … with extra complications.
Qatar’s Ministry of Labour prioritises employment for Qataris and provides services to match employers with suitable local candidates. Employers wanting to recruit non-Qataris in the country or personnel from abroad typically need the Ministry’s permission.
These amount to considerable complications – and potential delays – before employers even get as far as onboarding staff and drawing up contracts.
There is a better option with a straightforward, fast and cost-effective alternative that will have your new staff operational in a matter of days … and without having to unravel any red tape.
Bradford Jacobs has the essential expertise to provide the smoothest route for your journey into the Qatari economy by dealing with these complexities. Our Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) networks have global reach to find the right staff. Then, through our Employer of Record (EOR) platforms we will have your new employees working legally at their desks and screens in the shortest time. This guide highlights the essentials of recruitment and onboarding in Qatar. You can trust Bradford Jacobs to put the brightest talent in position for your company.
Foreign companies entering Qatar’s employment market will find recruitment is far from straightforward. The Ministry of Labour channels employers towards taking on Qataris who are seeking work and the Ministry must generally give permission for companies to hire foreigners from abroad.
Approval will be judged on factors such as the candidate’s nationality, gender, relevant qualifications and experience for the role. Despite these restrictions, Qatar’s determination to create a knowledge-based economy needs to attract skilled and experienced personnel from mature employment markets … but other regional economies face the same problems and are competing for the best talent.
There is also a bottleneck caused by skills shortages which need to be addressed by providing training programmes to improve technical, IT and specialised skills for the younger end of the labour pool. In the interim, there is a lack of variety in the available talent for companies recruiting staff.
The potential delays lead many Start-up enterprises in the IT sector to sidestep these issues by employing remote workers from outside the country.
Employees’ pre-hire checks in Qatar
General: The Labour Act 3 (1962) requires employers to formulate processes for legally hiring employees, but also allows them to carry out background screening. Candidates must give their permission, however, for general checks to be implemented and supply the relevant documentation themselves.
The scale of pre-hire screening can vary according to a number of facts, such as type of job and nationality of the applicant, with foreigners liable for a greater depth of screening than locals. When gathering information from the applicant, employers must comply with the Data Protection Law.
Specific checks include:
Education: In some sectors employees may have to provide the Ministry of Labour with verified copies of their high school, college or university qualifications
Employment: Checking employment history is generally covered by the Certificate of Service, which all employers are required to provide under the Labour Law
Criminal records: Only the applicant can obtain a Certificate of Good Conduct by applying to the Criminal Evidence and Information Department. Foreigners may also be required to obtain the equivalent documentation from their home nation
Basic facts when recruiting in Qatar
Employers must comply with basic requirements of Qatar’s Labour Law, as applied by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MADLSA). At the start of the onboarding process, regulations also cover drafting contracts. Requirements include:
Employers provide a bilingual written contract on a standard template from MADLSA
The contract must include the following: Names, addresses and contact details for employer and employee, plus the employee’s nationality; job title; national ID for Qataris and visa details of a foreigner; start date, length and type of contract; remuneration
Any additional arrangements must be registered with MADLSA
Contracts should be in Arabic, with bilingual Arabic-English contracts acceptable
Three copies are held by the employer, employee and MADLSA
Once onboarded, employers must comply with the Labour Law’s mandatory regulations laying down the rights and entitlements of staff and the obligations of the employer
Hierarchy: Qatari society is hierarchical, and this extends to the business environment. Typically, there’s a chairman, board of directors, a CEO, and managers overseeing daily operations. Outside of family-run businesses, respect and deference are shown to each level. Discussions, negotiations, and decisions rarely involve individuals outside the relevant management level.
Introductions/Greetings: Handshakes are common, but some Qatari men might place a hand on their chest as a form of greeting. When greeting female colleagues, it’s advisable to wait and see if she offers her hand first. The traditional Arabic greeting is “As-salam alaikum” (peace be upon you).
Language: While English is widely used in business, it’s mandatory for certain documents, such as invoices and customer service procedures, to be in Arabic. Having a team member fluent in Arabic or engaging an interpreter is essential.
Gift Giving: It’s not customary for expatriates to give gifts during the first meeting as it might embarrass the host. If gifts are given, they should be modest.
Business Cards: Business cards are exchanged at the beginning of the first meeting. Use only the right hand for offering and receiving cards. It’s polite to leave the card face up on the table and not to put it away immediately.
Dress Code: Men typically wear smart trousers, a shirt, and a tie, with jackets being optional depending on the climate. Non-Qatari women should cover their shoulders, upper arms, and legs above the knee. Qatari businesswomen might choose to be fully covered.
Punctuality: While punctuality and time-keeping might not be essential for Qataris, it’s good practice to be punctual to create a positive impression.
Negotiations and Meetings: Face-to-face interactions are preferred, especially with older Qataris who might not be fond of emails. Networking and establishing the right contacts are crucial. It’s also essential to identify decision-makers before scheduling meetings and entering into serious negotiations. Allocate extra time before and after scheduled appointments, make allowances for prayer times, and remember that the typical working week in Qatar is from Sunday to Thursday.
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