Doing business

Current business situation

Qatar has a relatively small population of 1.9 million and boasts the world’s third largest natural gas reserve, making it one of the most economically secure countries in the Gulf. (Source: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Qatar country profile, Nov 2014) Since Qatar secured the 2022 FIFA World Cup tournament, all sectors of the economy, particularly the sports construction and infrastructure transport industries are experiencing rapid expansion. In order to prepare for the World Cup, Qatar is on a trajectory to create the most advanced and modern infrastructure in the Arab world; with new airports, metro, roads and ports being built.

The government has established the Qatar National Vision 2030 which aims to achieve economic success whilst maintaining a just society and adhering to environmentally sound policies.

Business culture

Greet Arab businessmen with a handshake. Do not shake women’s hands or touch them unless they indicate that it is alright to do so.

When passing items, eating or drinking, avoid using your left hand as this is considered unclean.

Do not sit with the soles of your feet facing other members of the group, as this is considered offensive.

Building relationships and trust is extremely important, do not rush meetings and take time to answer your host’s questions in order to achieve trust.

As part of this relationship building, be prepared to have several meetings and make more than one visit to Qatar before any business deals are negotiated.

Qatar is a little more conservative than Dubai. Men should wear a suit, shirt and tie to all business meetings. Ladies do not need to cover their hair, but it is preferable to wear tops with long sleeves, modest necklines and skirts falling below the knee.

The official language of Qatar is Arabic, though English is widely spoken in business.

Setting up in Market

Relationships are key to doing business and emphasis weighs heavily on mutual respect and building trust. Regular visits, stopovers and attendance at exhibitions would help reinforce the customers your interest in their markets and commitment to a strong partnership. Finding a suitable local partner or looking to other well established Australian companies in the Middle East would be advantageous. Cultural awareness and etiquette should also be considered.

Banking and finance

Qatar was ranked 13th and the highest in the MENA region in the World Economic Forum Competitiveness Index. (Source: World Economic Forum, Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014, Nov 2014).

There are a large range of commercial banks, with eight locally owned. The Qatar National bank is part government owned and handles most of the government’s business. There are several major international institutions with a presence in Qatar, such as:

  • HSBC
  • Standard Chartered
  • Axa
  • Barclays
  • Citi
  • Morgan Stanley.

Moreover, the Qatar Exchange stock market now has 42 listed companies and is 25 per cent owned by NYSE.

Links and resources

Government, business and trade

Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Australia Gulf Council
Ministry of Foreign Affairs

News and media

The Peninsula

Please note: This list of websites and resources is not definitive. Inclusion in this list does not imply endorsement by Austrade. The information provided is a guide only. The content is for information and carries no warranty; as such, the addressee must exercise their own discretion in its use. Australia’s anti-bribery laws apply overseas and Austrade will not provide business related services to any party who breaches the law and will report credible evidence of any breach. For further information, please see foreign bribery information and awareness pack.