Qatar Science & Technology Park OverviewPosted on June 7th, 2012
As part of Qatar Foundation, Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) was established by virtue of law No. 36/2005 (the Law). QSTP is a home for technology-based companies from around the world such as GE, Rolls-Royce, ExxonMobil, Microsoft, Shell, Total. On April 2012, FASI, the largest insurance company in Italy, has signed an MOU with QSTP. This MOU outlines, among other things, collaboration initiatives between QSTP and FASI to exchange relevant information on preventive medicine with a focus on heart disease and diabetes. QSTP also acts as an incubator for start-up enterprises involved in the development or transfer of technology and offers many programs that help investors develop and commercialize their technologies. QSTP’s members execute, broadly speaking, applied research and deliver commercial technologies in the areas of environment, health sciences and information and communication technologies.
The Law established a free investment zone for the QSTP (Free Zone) that aims to develop and support applied scientific researches and technological researches and to perform “Investment” activities that serve the goals of QSTP. “Investment” is defined by the Law as “incorporating and operating a project including one or more of the following activities: research and development, development of production, technical training, technical advice, the establishment of companies to carry out such activities, the delivery of services to support the entities that perform such activities”.
The Free Zone is managed by a board of directors (BoD). The BoD is duly empowered, among other things, to (i) issue the licenses required for the performance of activities in the Free Zone, (ii) issue the certificates of incorporation and registration of companies, branches and other entities seeking to obtain licenses in the Free Zone and (iii) set up companies that assist in the achievement of the Free Zone’s objectives.
The QSTP offers investors many advantages. Investors can establish a 100% foreign owned company or operate as a branch of foreign company, trade without a local agent or sponsor and hire expatriate employees and sponsor them (tenants are exempted from workforce quotas that apply to certain countries). Goods, materials, equipments, tools, devices and means of transport that are imported from abroad in order to be used in the Free Zone are exempted from customs duty. Besides, goods and products manufactured in the Free Zone are exempted from exportation’s customs duty. Additionally, entities licensed to perform activities in the Free Zone and workers therein are exempted from all taxes, including income tax, in connection with their activities in the Free Zone. It should be noted however that goods entering the Qatari territories (except for the other free zones) from the Free Zone are subject to customs duty.
It is restricted to operate in the Free Zone before obtaining a license from the BoD. The scope of an investor’s commercial and non commercial activities is set out in his license. That being said, the majority of the activities of an investor, as mentioned above, must contribute to the advancement of technology.
In line with Qatar National Vision 2030, the QSTP is actively contributing to the human and economic development of Qatar.
Conventional vs. Islamic FinancingPosted on May 7th, 2012
Qatar may seem small, geographically, but in commercial terms it is a rising giant. Qatar's banking sector is in rude health, as evidenced by the Gulf emirate's position as the regional leader in terms of bank lending growth. Qatar's banking sector is monitored by the Central Bank of Qatar (QCB) that handles redemption of the country's currency, controls monetary policy and monitors the banking system. Qatar, where conventional and Islamic banks operate, has a buoyant and increasingly diverse banking sector catering for the needs of all kinds of customers. Additionally, the estimated 15-20% annual growth rate of Islamic services has encouraged conventional banks to open Islamic branches or Islamic windows to accept Islamic deposits and operate Islamic finances. However, this overlapping nature of non-Islamic and Islamic activities is set to end, which will have a significant impact on the banking sector development.
In fact, new rules for Islamic banking in Qatar released by the Central Bank on August 29, 2011 prohibit conventional banks from allocating more than 10% of issued capital to Islamic banking operations and from opening additional branches for Islamic banking. There is also a limit on Mudharabah (profit-sharing) and Musharakah (joint ventures) to 5% of a bank’s total Islamic operations. This has changed the way conventional banks offer Shariah-compliant services and likely boost the performance of banks that focus solely on such services. Moreover, Qatar’s banking regulator has asked conventional banks in the country to close down their Islamic banking branches by the end of 2011. Such action is still under process.
The message seems to be that banks can either focus on conventional or Shariah-compliant banking, but not both. The regulations will most directly affect the leading conventional banks for which Islamic financing constituted a key driver of growth and profits, and those close to the limits established by the Central Bank will likely have to increase deposits elsewhere.
Conventional banks and their Islamic branches took immediate measures and are rigorously convincing the depositors and customers to either convert their Islamic accounts into conventional ones or close it permanently as the dormant accounts will not bear any returns on the depositor’s money.
Between QCB aim to segregate Islamic and conventional activities in order to improve the effectiveness of monetary policy, which will also enable the introduction of different liquidity management instruments for the two types of activities, and which will probably lead to the orderly growth of Islamic banks in Qatar from one side, and between the willingness of the conventional banks to maintain their large share of the appealing Islamic business segment from the other side, new QCB regulations are expected to be issued in order to avoid a ruthless rivalry between Islamic and conventional banks which will eventually harm the steady expansion of Qatar’s banking sector.
Official LaunchPosted on May 7th, 2011
The official launch of Al-Misnad & Rifaat is scheduled for May of 2011.
With our headquarters situated in the heart of Qatar's West Bay district, Al-Misnad & Rifaat operates regionally, via our locally licensed offices or through our professional affiliations with a vast network of law firms across the Middle East and Africa. At Al-Misnad & Rifaat, our edge is found in our strong client-driven approach. We emphasize the importance of communication and this is why we assign a specific contact person for each client to ensure our clientele can speak to their lawyer regarding the latest developments in their file, at any time.
A law firm is only as good as the individuals that form it, and that is why our lawyers are carefully handpicked. Al-Misnad & Rifaat prides a team of skilled lawyers that are from different academic and professional backgrounds to best suit our client’s specific needs. At the team’s helm:
Founding Partner- Khalifa Al-Misnad:
Khalifa Al-Misnad was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 2006 following an educational journey that graduated him from the University of Texas and the University of Houston with a Mechanical Engineering degree and a Doctorate of Jurisprudence, respectively. Mr. Al-Misnad began his legal career in Qatar Petroleum’s legal department where he had the opportunity to work on various projects that included multi-billion dollar joint ventures, project financing undertakings, tax saving structures, corporate governance matters, and human resource related initiatives. An entrepreneurial drive led Mr. Al-Misnad to establish several successful ventures while also assisting third parties with company formation and business consulting, which has not only helped develop his legal knowledge, but also his commercial aptitude. After getting accepted to the Qatar Bar in 2010, Khalifa Al-Misnad and Rifaat Associates founded Al-Misnad & Rifaat to provide legal advice on an international level with a local flavor.
Founding Partner- Danny Rifaat:
Completing his Master in Private Law from St. Joseph University in 1994, Danny Rifaat was admitted to the Beirut Bar Association in 1995 and joined a highly reputable law firm based in Beirut-Lebanon. He then worked his way up to senior partner while building a high profile portfolio of both regional and multinational clientele. Mr. Rifaat then established Rifaat Associates Law Firm with Dr. Hassan-Tabet Rifaat, based in Beirut-Lebanon and acting as a regional law firm providing cross-border legal services to its clientele. Mr. Rifaat has extensive representational experience and has participated in a multitude of regional and international conferences. His practice concentrates on banking law and finance, construction law, commercial and corporate law, telecommunications law, securities, negotiation, mergers and acquisitions, IP and IT law and arbitration
Founding Partner - Hassan-Tabet Rifaat:
Dr. Hassãn-Tabet Rifaat has a French Master of Laws from Lyon University (1954) and Lebanese Master of Laws from St. Joseph University, Beirut (1957). In addition, Dr. Rifaat has two Diplômes d’Etudes Supérieures from Lyon University (Political Economics and Public Law ) (1955 and 1957), a Diplôme de Lettres from Lyon University (Classical Litterature) (1952), a Diplôme d’Etudes latines from Lyon University (1953) and a PhD, Docteur d’Etat en droit (1964) from Lyon University, France. Dr. Rifaat has been a Professor of Human Rights at St. Joseph University, Beirut since 1965, and a Professor of Public Law at the Lebanese University, Beirut. In addition, Dr. Rifaat has acted in the following capacities: Member, Committee of Experts charged with reviewing and amending Lebanese laws,; Arbitrator, Abu Dhabi Commercial Conciliation and Arbitration Center; Former Judge, Council of State (Conseil d’Etat); Director General, Ministry of Justice, Lebanon; Government Representative, Télé-Liban; President, Central Inspection; Member, Drafting Committee elected by the General Assembly of the United Nations for Humanitarian Rights; President, International Conference of A.C.C.T. (Dakar, 1986); Correspondent, Yearbook of Human Rights.