This edition of the Qatar Law Update highlights new laws published in the Official Gazettes 7, 8, 9 and 11 of 2012.

Highlights

Council of Ministers Decision No. 27 of 2012

Establishing the National Committee of International Humanitarian Law to accomplish the objectives of the relevant international treaties on the law of armed conflicts.

Qatar Financial Markets Authority Board of Directors Decision No. 3 of 2011

Decision to issue rules for offering and listing sukuks and bonds on the Qatar Exchange. The rules were effective from 28 December 2011.

Decree No. 36 of 2012

Ratifying the Arab Convention on Transnational Organized Crimes signed on 21 December 2010. The Convention aims to promote the Arab cooperation to fight and prevent transnational organised crimes.

Decree No. 37 of 2012

Ratifying the Arab Anti-Corruption Convention signed on 21 December 2010. The preamble of the Arab Convention affirms that the fight against corruption is not limited to the official authorities, but people and civil society have a crucial role to play. It also reminds us of the importance of Arab and international cooperation in the extradition of criminals, mutual legal assistance and asset recovery.

Decree Law No. 3 of 2012

Authorising the Ministry of Economy and Finance to establish two shareholding companies and to enter into agreements with those companies to issue Islamic sukuk up to the value of US$4 billion. The Ministry of Economy and Finance is licensed to transfer state-owned real estate to either of those companies. The companies are exempt from income tax, withholding tax and registration tax.

Minister of Municipality and Urban Planning Decision No. 100 of 2012

Appropriation of real estate for public benefit, being land affected by the Metro project first phase sections 1, 3 (1, #3 LOT) located in the region stretching from Doha International Airport to the first ring road.

Law No. 6 of 2012 Organising Tourism

New regulations for the tourist industry. All hotels and hospitality groups including tour guides and any tourism related activities must be licensed by the Qatar Tourism Authority (the QTA). The QTA is under the authority of the Ministry of Business and Trade. Licences for hotels shall be issued for three years, whilst licences for tourism facilities or activities shall be for one year. Both the QTA and the Minister have the authority to cancel the licence of any hotel or tourism facility for violation of the law; such cancellation will be effective for a minimum of six months. The law applies a classification system which shall be in the form as issued by the Chairman of the QTA.

Law No. 8 of 2012 Qatar Financial Markets Authority

Cancelling Law No. 33 of 2005 and replacing it with Law No.8 of 2012. The Qatar Financial Markets Authority (the QFMA) has financial and administrative independnce and now falls under the authority of the Governor of the Qatar Central Bank. The QFMA shall be managed by a Board of Directors which is chaired by the Governor of the Qatar Central Bank.

As per the previous law, the QFMA's key objectives are to maintain confidence in the financial markets system, protect investors, ensure stability and reduce risk. The QFMA’s role is to regulate, supervise and control Financial Markets Activities. Financial Markets Activities are defined as financial operations and services which are conducted by a regulated financial market, a depository, a clearing company, or a financial services company and other bodies subject to the QFMA's jurisdiction. In addition, the QFMA shall issue regulations, rules and decisions to regulate the financial markets and has the authority to issue various sanctions for violation of the law and its regulations.

Law No. 9 of 2012 regarding Civil Defence

Amending Law No. 13 of 1997. Residential, commercial, administrative and industrial buildings and premises must abide by the safety and security measures determined by the Civil Defence Department (CDD).

CDD remains responsible for determining safety and security measures in residential, commercial, industrial and administrative buildings or areas. The approval of CDD is required before and after completion of a building project, and buildings and projects must comply with safety and security standards. These include but are not limited to (i) clear signs indicating emergency exits and ways leading to them; (ii) entry and exit points designed appropriately in order not to obstruct Civil Defence vehicles and equipment; and (iii) the width of main passages in commercial outlets.

Changes to the activity for which the premises was licensed and designed or modifications to the design are not permitted without the approval of CDD. The new law introduces stricter penalties for violation of the law, the most severe of which are fines of up to QR500,000 and imprisonment for up to eight years.

Law No. 10 of 2012 Organising Business Consultancy Services

The new law stipulates that every natural or legal person who provides consultancy services must obtain a licence from the competent administrative unit at the Ministry of Business and Trade. Only Qatari or GCC individuals or Qatari entities that are joint liability companies can carry out the business of consultancy services. A joint liability company is similar to a partnership, and in this type of company are personally liable for obligations of the company without limitation.

Consultancy services are defined as services of providing expertise, consultancy and studies in the fields of economy, commerce and finance, and services of analysing, training and providing feasibility studies in these fields.

The Minister of Business and Trade may permit international consultants to establish a foreign branch in Qatar to carry out the business of consultancy services but such permission shall be within the limits and conditions to be determined by a Council of Ministers Decision. The Council of Ministers Decision in relation to this law is currently under process.

Individuals carrying out the business of consultancy services should hold a certificate from an accredited university in the field for which the licence is requested and shall (i) have full civil capacity; (ii) be of good reputation; and (iii) not have been found guilty by final decision of a felony or a crime involving breach of honour or trust. The same conditions apply to the partners in joint liability companies carrying out the business of consultancy services, save that only one of the partners is required to hold a certificate from an accredited university in the field for which the licence is requested.

The law requires that individuals and corporate entities that are carrying out the business of consultancy services at the time of issuance of this law must comply with the provisions of this law within six months from its effective date, which period may be extended by the Minister of Business and Trade for a similar period. The effective date was 29 September 2012.