Market players must adapt to Qatar’s new reforms, by Sulaiman Al-Banai, Owner and General Manager, AlDar Properties

There have been major developments in real estate related laws and regulations, and e-government initiatives

Whether you live in Doha or visit Qatar frequently, it is hard not to see the country’s massive development over the past 20 years. Projects for the 2022 World Cup, new highways, the Metro, Hamad International Airport, Hamad Port, Lusail City and The Pearl are some visible examples of such development. They have had a tremendous impact on the country’s real estate industry.

Meanwhile, there are other developments that aren’t necessarily so visible. Over the last few years, there have been major developments in areas such as real estate related laws and regulations, e-government initiatives from various ministries, immigration and labour laws and regulations, and justice system reforms. Many of these developments are still ongoing, just as many of the visible ones are. The purpose of this article is to highlight some of the most significant non-visible developments to the real estate industry and their impact on market players.

Let’s start with the obvious; phase one of the Qatar National Master Plan (QNMP) began last year with new regulations and procedures in place to obtain building permits for almost all asset classes. With Qatar National Vision 2030 as the main influencer, QNMP is set to make Qatar a role model for sustainable urban living and among the most liveable towns and cities in the 21st century. 

From a market perspective, the sooner investors, developers and architects understand these changes and adapt to it, the better their chances of success will be. One of the main changes that QNMP made to the old system is with regard to area density. For example, if you want to build a villa on a plot, the same floor-to-area ratio (FAR) applied for all areas in Qatar. However, with the new plan, the FAR varies significantly, depending on which area your plot is in.

E-government is another area being developed within Qatar National Vision 2030. Many government divisions have introduced online services over the past couple of years. Many of these new procedures and services are related to real estate. Building permit submission, rental contract attestation, wage protection system and rent/sale board permits are all available online now. Companies across the sector can benefit from these services and must adapt their internal procedures to not only comply with but also benefit from them.     

Reforms have also been introduced in the Qatari courts of law since the beginning of 2019. His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani has been very clear in his speeches about the need for justice reforms, specifically to speed up the judicial processes. Thus, the Supreme Justice Committee has made significant changes to the processes and departments of Qatari courts. Real estate-related issues will greatly benefit from this. Market players must educate themselves about the new changes and adapt to the new system as soon as possible. 

Another major development in the real estate market is law No 22 in 2017 on the terms and conditions related to the licensing of real estate brokerages. The first step of implementing the law was taken this past December, when the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) invited brokers to register online. This is a major legislative development that will have a positive impact on the market and tackle issues such as transparency, accountability and fraud head on. Brokers must act swiftly and ensure that their current position is in line with the MoJ’s requirement. In other words, they need to adapt.

Looking at the previous paragraphs, the key word in everything is “to adapt”. The non-visible or “soft” developments in Qatar are as exciting as the visible ones. The faster real estate market players adapt to these developments, the better advantage they will have over competition. 

This article was published as part of the fourth edition of Property Finder Qatar’s Trends Report