10 May 2019
QATAR: Law Approved to Extend Areas Where Foreigners Can Buy Property
The Qatari Cabinet has approved legislation to extend the number of locations where non-Qataris may own villas and shops within residential and commercial complexes. The legislation, passed on 13 March, applies to foreign businesses, investment funds as well as individuals.
Following on from a law passed last year to allow greater foreign ownership in the country’s ailing property market, the Cabinet extended the locations eligible for full freehold foreign ownership, as well as 16 areas where property could be held for a period of 99 years.
The law passed in 2018 allowed 100% foreign ownership of property in the lightly populated upmarket Doha areas of the Pearl and West Bay Lagoon, and in the larger northern resort city of Al Khor.
The seven new locations are mainly an expansion into Doha residential areas around the Pearl and West Bay, although the Rawdat Al Jahaniyah investment zone is included. The remaining six locations are Al Qassar, Al Dafna, Onaiza, Al Wasail, Al Khraij, and Jabal Thayleeb.
The 16 areas where non-Qataris can hold real estate for 99 years are mainly wide expansions further out from the centre of Doha. They are Msheireb, Fereej Abdelaziz, Doha Al Jadeed, New Al Ghanim, Al Refaa and Old Al Hitmi, Aslata, Fereej Bin Mahmoud, Fereej Bin Mahmoud, Rawdat Al Khail, Mansoura and Fereej Bin Dirham, Najma, Umm Ghuwailina, Al Khulaifat, Al Sadd, Al Mirqab Al Jadeed and Fereej Al Nasr, and the Doha International Airport area.
The new law also provides more room for non-Qataris to benefit from residency benefits. Owners of property valued at a minimum of US$200,000 can be granted permanent residency cards for as long as they own the property. Otherwise, expatriates under work visas are granted five-year renewable visas and must have a minimum salary of QAR30,000 (US$8,300) per month to apply for permanent residency. There are also financing incentives from the Qatar National Bank, which offers loans to expatriates of up to QAR3 million (US$824,000) at rates as low as 4.35%, with terms of up to 15 years.
The measures are designed to boost sales in real estate sector, which has been struggling. In the last three years, Qatar’s real estate price index has dropped by 21% due to oversupply brought about by World Cup-related construction and the blockade by its Gulf neighbours.