Exporting guide to

Qatar

Overview

Qatar has one of the highest levels of GDP per capita in the world, making it an affluent market. Qatar is a key market both for trade and investment because of its dynamic and diversifying economy, and the wide variety of growth areas identified in its National Vision.

Trade statistics

£4.9 billion total UK exports to Qatar for the four quarters to the end of Q3 2023

(Source: ONS UK total trade: all countries, seasonally adjusted
Last updated: January 2024)

29th largest UK export market

(Source: ONS UK total trade: all countries, seasonally adjusted
Last updated: January 2024)

0.6% of total UK exports for the four quarters to the end of Q3 2023

(Source: ONS UK total trade: all countries, seasonally adjusted
Last updated: January 2024)

Strong links with the UK

Qatar has strong political, cultural, and economic ties to the UK. English is widely spoken and the UK brand is highly regarded in Qatar.

National Vision 2030

British companies have a long history of success in the Qatari market developments, across a broad range of sectors, including energy and sports. The National Vision seeks to reduce reliance on oil and gas revenues, increase economic diversity (including developing a local knowledge-based economy) and stimulate the private sector.

Foreign direct investment incentives

Qatar has various initiatives to encourage foreign direct investment (FDI). There are 2 free zones, designed to allow for 100% foreign ownership, one near Hamad International Airport and one near Hamad Port (Qatar Free Zone Authority, 2019). Manateq, Qatar Financial Centre and Qatar Science and Technology Park operate as free-zone-style locations.

Top five UK goods exported to Qatar , in the four quarters to the end of Q3 2023

Goods Value (£ million )
Aircraft 991.9
Mechanical power generators (intermediate) 963.4
Jewellery 535.5
Cars 434.8
Scientific instruments (capital) 108.8

Source: ONS Trade in goods: country-by-commodity exports
Last updated: February 2024
Download the latest trade and investment factsheet for Qatar.

Qatar: at a glance

Economic growth

4.9%

Actual figure (IMF, 2022)
The UK is 4.1% (IMF, 2022, actual figure)

GDP per capita

$83,521

Actual figure (IMF, 2022)
The UK is $45,461 (IMF, 2022, projected figure)

Currency

Riyal

Business language

Arabic

English is widely spoken, but business documents will need to be in Arabic

Time zone

GMT +3

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Opportunities for exporters

There are opportunities for UK companies across a broad range of industries. Our trade advisers in the Qatar have identified opportunities for UK businesses in the following sectors:

Check for trade barriers

Trade barriers, such as tariffs or taxes, can raise costs, cause delays, or even stop you from exporting. Check for any issues that may impact your business when exporting.

See current trade barriers

See resolved trade barriers

Check duties and customs

Find information on how to export goods from the UK. View the duties, rules, restrictions, and the documents you need for your products.

See current duties and customs procedures

Doing business in Qatar

Preparing to export

Taxation

The UK and Qatar have signed a double taxation agreement, meaning the same income is not taxed twice.

Qatari companies are exempt from tax. However, foreign companies and any business activity carried out in Qatar are subject to a corporate income tax of 10%. This includes any services or consultancy contracts within the state as well as any gains on property.

Services supplied from outside Qatar are subject to a Withholding Tax of 5% of the fee.

VAT

If you’re registered for Value Added Tax (VAT) you can zero-rate VAT on most goods you export to Qatar.

There is presently no sales tax in Qatar.

Import and excise duties

Qatar is part of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) customs union. The rate of duty on most items imported into the GCC is 5%.

Goods that compete with locally manufactured products attract higher rates of duty, such as steel (20%), cement (20%) and urea (30%).

There is a 100% tariff imposed on alcohol and tobacco products in Qatar. You should check you have paid excise duty on any alcohol, alcoholic drinks, energy products, electrical or tobacco products you send to Qatar.

Standards

Most Qatari product standards are based on those developed by the Gulf Standardisation Organisation. They’re based to some extent on international standards but don’t necessarily conform.

There are Qatar-specific standards relating to building, mechanical and food products. The Qatar General Organisation for Standards and Metrology is responsible for standards.

Food packaging and labelling

Qatar enforces strict food labelling and packaging laws, and GCC shelf-life standards for some products. Products must arrive with at least half the shelf-life remaining.

Labels must be in Arabic only, or Arabic with an English translation. Products with English-only labels may be approved for import on a case-by-case basis.

Trade barriers

Check for any reported barriers to trading with Qatar.

Report any trade barriers that are affecting your business so we can help fix them.

Operating in Qatar

Challenges

Challenges facing businesses operating in Qatar include bureaucracy, payment delays and a lack of transparency in the market. Foreign investment is restricted in some sectors.

The Foreign & Commonwealth Development Office Overseas Business Risk report for Qatar gives information on key security and political risks you may face when operating in the country.

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property (IP) rights are territorial and rights granted in the UK do not provide protection elsewhere. You should consider getting IP protection abroad if you want to trade overseas or sell to overseas customers via the internet.

The Intellectual Property Office provides practical information to help you protect, manage and enforce your IP abroad. Further support for British businesses can be found through a network of IP attachés, based in key UK export markets.

View guidance on IP in Qatar on GOV.UK.

Payment terms

For advice about payment and finance in Qatar, talk to a bank or accountant. The Department for Business and Trade team in Qatar can help you find a financial adviser in Qatar.

Make sure you clearly specify payment terms in the contract with your customer or buyer. Any dispute will have to go through the Qatari legal system for resolution, which can be a lengthy, complicated process.

Partnership and agreements

You should sign a contract before undertaking any work or projects in Qatar.

To do business in Qatar you will typically need a local sponsor. Under these arrangements, there is a requirement for a partnership split of 49% to 51% in favour of the Qatari national, to register a local entity of the business. 100% foreign ownership is permitted for specific sectors, such as, through Qatar Free Zones or Qatar Financial Centre for specific sectors.

Business culture

You’ll find some differences in Qatari and UK business culture, for example:

  • Qatar is an Islamic country and follows sharia law
  • although English is widely spoken, businesses in Qatar must use Arabic as the main language for issuing invoices, service lists, product labels and customer services
  • establishing professional relationships is essential to securing business contracts
  • the working week is Sunday to Thursday

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