QATAR - Economy
Chairman, Essa Al-Sulaiti Law Firm
Essa Mohammed Al Sulaiti is a Qatari attorney and arbitrator, certified by the GCC Commercial Arbitration Centre and the Qatar International Centre for Conciliation and Arbitration. He is a member of the Qatar Lawyer’s Association. In addition, Al Sulaiti has established an excellent working relationship with legal associations and entities such as the IBA, ICC, and Lexis Nexis. Drawing on prior experience under reputable Welsh and Qatari law firms, he founded the Essa Al-Sulaiti Law Firm in 2015 to effectively align his practice with a personal mission: addressing the emerging legal demands of Qatari and international businesses operating in his home country.
What is your expertise in sports legislation?
We also specialize in sports law, though we have not seen the same challenges in sports law; however, with the approach of the World Cup, we anticipate more points that will require legal action to settle. We will see legal changes emerging as sporting events start to take on increasing importance. We need to have enough legal practitioners in place to ensure we can satisfy growing demand. Qatar is preparing a specific law for the World Cup. This law will be applied for only a short period of time in order for Qatar to meet the specific challenges we might face in this area. This law will be for special occasions and applied only temporarily when such events take place. Eventually, we will take a few articles and make them permanent if it is determined that they are necessary on a longer-term basis. The main goal of this law is to take control and manage such events. Many people were treating this area in a laissez-faire manner, and the government wanted to take more control. It has done an excellent job in terms of sending legal practitioners to other major sporting events to understand how to navigate these issues.
What impact will the new foreign ownership law have on new companies in Qatar?
Qatar has been highly focused on trying to make things much easier. Foreign investors used to be allowed to have 100% ownership of companies, though there were certain procedures that had to be fulfilled to achieve this. It was difficult to reach this point. Now, however, certain sectors have 100% ownership without these requirements, which significantly helps the economy. Qatar has now allowed 100% ownership in areas where the country really needs international investment and experts. We have seen a great deal of improvements in these areas, and many companies are interested in entering these markets with 100% ownership. This law, however, does not prevent foreign companies from engaging in partnerships with local companies. Many foreign companies are also interested in the partnership route. The real domestic expertise comes from those Qatari companies that have been here for years. We see many JVs being established.
What is the impact of the new exit visa law for improving the rights of employees in Qatar?
There are many changes and impacts in these areas right now. This law will definitely help competition. Whenever there is freer movement of people, the market improves. Additionally, this is a key human rights matter that has to be put into consideration. It helps build trust between employers and employees as well help Qatar build trust with the international community. I have written a book on labor law that will be a comprehensive resource in both Arabic and English.
Based on your experience, what legislation is currently lacking in Qatar?
The first thing we have to understand is what we are missing. This is the most important matter in terms of understanding what we need to do to improve. We have already begun implementing changes in order to tackle and improve these issues. As soon as a new law or procedure is implemented, we have to give it time to understand how it will develop and what the feedback will be. We have to make these changes in a deliberate and considered manner. Foreign investors appreciate seeing a market that moves in a steady and predictable way, and this is exactly what we offer. This is why we improved our arbitration law in 2017 to help foreign investors and to make them trust the market and the economy of Qatar. They now have broader freedom to choose how a dispute will be arbitrated.
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