DUBAI (REUTERS) - Qatar said on Tuesday (Oct 6) it will allow foreign companies and individuals to own real estate in more areas in the country, liberalising rules to attract overseas funds in the sector as part of moves to diversify the economy.
Non-Qatari individuals could own properties in nine areas, up from three before, while the number of areas where foreigners may use real estate has also been increased to 16, a government statement said.
Foreign companies can also own properties in nine areas, a big boost from the past when they were only allowed access to real estate ownership within the confines of The Pearl Island project in Doha.
"Such decision would contribute to the advancement of the Qatari real estate market, the acceleration of the economic development, and the stimulation of the real estate sector," the Ministry of Justice statement said.
The Qatar government will also grant residency to owners of property worth at least 730,000 riyals (S$272,000) as well as their families, it said.
Qatar passed a law in 2018 permitting greater foreign ownership of its real estate sector, which in recent years has been hit hard by oversupply tied to a rush of construction ahead of the 2022 World Cup which it is hosting.
Another dampener for the sector has been the diplomatic, trade and transport boycott imposed on Qatar in 2017 by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt over allegations, denied by Doha, that it backs Islamist militants.
Qatar, the world's top exporter of liquefied natural gas, is trying to diversify its economy by boosting tourism and foreign investment in non-hydrocarbon sectors.
"By allocating these areas as eligible for foreign ownership and investment, Qatar has created attractive opportunities that will benefit both domestic and international investors," said Minister of Commerce and Industry, Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwari, in a separate statement.
"The changes will also help to grow and strengthen Qatar's economic development."
The International Monetary Fund has said it expects Qatar's economy to contract by 4.3 per cent this year, hurt by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.