On the 18th April 2021, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) in Qatar announced that going forward, it requires all applicants seeking to obtain, renew or amend commercial registration certificates to submit a beneficial ownership disclosure. This new requirement is in accordance with the Unified Economic Register Law No 1 of 2020 (Unified Register Law) that was issued in January last year.
The Unified Register Law aims to strengthen transparency of economic and financial transactions, by collecting certain information and documents of companies, non-profit organizations, legal arrangements (such as a trust structure or similar arrangements) and liberal professions. The public will have access to such information, subject to certain requirements, including submitting an application and paying a fee to the competent department in the MoCI. Such information will also be available to law enforcement agencies and judicial and regulatory authorities among others, subject to certain restrictions. These developments are in line with Qatar’s efforts to promote transparency across industries and with the Qatar National Vision 2030.
The Qatari cabinet approved a draft law to amend the Qatar Foreign Direct Investment Law No 1 of 2019 to allow foreign investors to own up to 100% of the capital of companies listed on the Qatar Stock Exchange. While the law has not yet been implemented, Qatari stocks soared following the announcement of plans to allow full foreign ownership, resulting in the QE Index gaining 2.8%, the most it has gained in over one year. According to Bloomberg, Qatar Islamic Bank, Masraf Al Rayan and the Commercial Bank of Qatar are expected to be among the biggest beneficiaries, as their stocks rose by 8.3%, 5.5% and 10% respectively following the announcement.
In other news, the Shura Council recently approved a draft law to establish a specialized investment and trade court in Qatar. This court is expected to have jurisdiction over commercial disputes, including disputes relating to banking operations, financing and investment companies and bankruptcy disputes, among others. Sheikh Khalifa Jassim Al Thani, the chairman of Qatar Chamber, commented on this development noting that: “The draft law is a new step in the march of supporting the growth of the national economy, enhancing the State’s investment climate and stimulating foreign investments.”