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The continuing development of Qatar: A legal recruitment perspective.

Posted by: Laurence Simons 21/07/15

Ranked as the number one country by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for gross domestic product per capita, Qatar is universally accepted as one of the richest countries in the world. This oil rich country has been in the headlines over the past few months for reasons that were not exactly favourable.  However, the state of Qatar is a potential diamond in the rough when it comes to the legal industry.

Being awarded the 2022 FIFA World Cup will undoubtedly have a monumental impact on the Qatari economy. Having been afforded the opportunity to host such an initiative, it is logical that investment into infrastructure and construction is the obvious next step. The Qatari government has announced that US$182bn will be invested in infrastructure projects over the next five years, most notably a metro system in Doha and the further development of Hamad International Airport.  Resulting from this, the legal market is likely to see a heightened volume of work on both transactional and contentious construction work.

Local and regional firms are established in Qatar and have been for a number of years. This along with the fact that a number of international law firms are becoming more capable of practising Qatari law enables healthy competition in what can be described as a buoyant market.

Law firms are able to reap many rewards by entering the Qatari market. The standard corporate tax rate in Qatar currently sits at a flat rate of 10%, which is not only more stable than the sliding tax scale that was repealed in early 2010, but it is also significantly less than established  economies such as the United Kingdom (20%) or the United States (40%).

Moreover, the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) was created to attract both domestic and international financial institutions and major multi-national organisations by offering top-tier legal and business infrastructure, which has obvious positive connotations for law firms.

It is not just law firms that can benefit from operating in Qatar; lawyers who move to there can reap the rewards from the favourable circumstance this country can offer. The most commonly known benefit is that individuals working in Qatar are not charged income tax on their salary. This combined with a 6.5% economic growth over the next two years (as predicted by global accountancy firm EY) means that there is greater opportunity for earnings to increase. Other benefits include crime rates being quite low and the introduction of the QFC which allows individuals to move firms without requiring N.O.C. forms from their current employer.

To balance the argument, there are some challenges to living in the region. For the most part, living costs are high, particularly accommodation and education which may hamper the chances of attracting people to the larger cities. For lawyers that haven’t worked in Qatar or the Middle East region before, one of the most common challenges is the culture from both a living and working perspective. 

In summary, Qatar has an intriguing time ahead. On one hand, there is likely to be a period of dynamic and rapid growth as it prepares for the FIFA World Cup as well as fulfilling the Qatar National Vision for 2030, which will create ample opportunity for lawyers in Qatari on both a personal and professional level. On the other hand, law firms will have to be aware of the ever increasing cost of living which could potentially intimidate those wanting to work in the region but this is an exciting time for professionals and firms alike in the legal sector in Qatar.