The State of Qatar, not unlike other countries in the region, has opened its doors to foreign investment, particularly in relation to property and construction. In doing so, there has been an easing on the restriction of non-Qataris owning property within Qatar, as Qatar seeks to attract foreign investment in the real estate. The opening of the Qatar property sector began in earnest in June 2004 with the passing of Law No (17) of 2004 Regulating Ownership and Usufruct of Real Estate and Residential Units by non-Qataris. The Foreign Ownership of Real Estate Law permits non-Qataris to invest and own “Real Estate”, defined in the legislation as “lands, buildings and constructions thereof”, in three designated projects in accordance with the terms and conditions issued by the resolution of Cabinet. These are the Pearl-Qatar, West Bay Lagoon and Al Khor Resort Project.In 2004, Cabinet Resolution No (20) of 2004 provided that non-Qataris may own land, buildings and residential units in the abovementioned projects, together with the right to dispose of, or exploit, those interests in accordance with the applicable laws. Non-Qataris may also acquire rights of usufruct over the following assets:
- Real Estate, for a term of 99 years renewable on similar terms, within the Investment Areas, (the location terms and conditions being declared by Cabinet Resolution); and
- in respect of one or more “Residential Units”, in residential areas for a term not exceeding 99 years, renewable on similar terms (on terms and conditions declared by Cabinet resolution).
In general, a “right of usufruct” is a right to enjoy property belonging to another person and to us it for one’s own profit, utility and advantage. To date, eighteen areas have been listed.