Transportation, real estate, tourism and construction are also boosting Doha’s economy as the country slowly adapts its infrastructure to diversify its non-oil-based sectors.

In 2010, Qatar won the right to host football’s 2022 Fifa World Cup. This signalled the start of an infrastructure projects boom that could be worth up to $183bn, with planned schemes including the 216-kilometre Doha metro. National carrier Qatar Airways has also grown in size in recent years, and was voted Airline of the Year in 2011 and 2012 in an annual industry audit by UK consultancy Skytrax.

The 45,000-square-metre Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) operates as the country’s only free zone, focusing on energy, the environment, health sciences and information and communications technology. It sits amid educational institutions and universities as part of the Qatar Foundation’s 1,000-hectare Education City campus, built with the aim of developing a knowledge-based economy. The park was established in 2005 and inaugurated in 2009. More than 20 companies now operate in the QSTP, including global brands such as Chevron, Cisco, GE, Microsoft, Rolls-Royce and Tata.

Industrial areas in the country include Doha Industrial Estate, which serves light and medium-scale industries, Mesaieed Industrial City, Dukhan Petroleum City and Ras Laffan Industrial City, all based around hydrocarbons and industry.

Located 80km north of Doha, industrial city Ras Laffan is home to RasGas Company and Qatargas, and forms the hub of the country’s liquefied natural gas industry. Mesaieed Industrial City, 40km south of Doha, was set up in 1996 and is focused on hydrocarbons, iron and steel, while Dukhan Petroleum City, where oil was first discovered in Qatar, has been following a strategic construction plan due to run until 2022.

Qatar plans to launch three additional free zones. Qatar Economic Zone One will be based near the soon-to-open Hamad International Airport (formerly New Doha International Airport), and will focus on technology and manufacturing. Zone Two will be constructed south of Doha Industrial Area, catering to manufacturing and transport companies. Zone Three will adjoin the New Port Project, south of Al-Wakrah.

Fast facts

  • Qatar will host football’s Fifa World Cup in 2022.
  • Qatar Science and Technology Park covers 45,000 square metres.
  • The country’s railway system is costing a total of $26bn to build.
  • Qatar’s World Cup infrastructure projects boom could be worth $183bn.

Qatar Financial Centre (QFC)

Established in 2005, QFC is neither offshore nor a free zone; businesses registered with the centre need not be located there, but can have offices elsewhere in Doha. However, it provides infrastructure to make it easy for financial services businesses to enter the Qatari market.

Qatar Financial Centre Authority is the commercial arm of QFC and is responsible for expanding its financial services. More than 140 QFC-registered firms work across industries including banking and insurance, and non-regulated sectors such as law, consultancy and recruitment.


A financial regulator, QFC Regulatory Authority, also operates within QFC, and an independent judiciary consisting of the Civil and Commercial Court and the Regulatory Tribunal. Legal infrastructure is modelled on English common law.


  • Companies can operate in any currency
  • 100 per cent foreign ownership permitted
  • Low rate of taxation: 10 per cent corporation tax, based on profits
  • No limits on repatriation of profits
  • Double-taxation agreements with more than 35 countries


  • Investment banking
  • Private banking
  • Reinsurance
  • Asset management
  • Consultancy
  • Law
  • Financial services recruitment

Tel: (+974) 4 496 7777

Qatar Petroleum

Head of land leases, Dukhan Petroleum City and Ras Laffan Industrial City: Johan Horn

Tel: (+971) 4 474 8872

Mesaieed Industrial City

Director: Mohammed Jassim al-Baker

Tel: (+974) 4 477 3213

Doha Industrial Area

Mirage International Property Consultants

Tel: (+974) 4 444 4431

Industrial cities in Qatar

Qatar has several industrial cities that operate as single-site hubs where resources are pooled to help integrate upstream and downstream industries. The government owns or is the majority joint venture partner in most of the businesses based in the industrial cities.

Dukhan Petroleum City

Dukhan, located 84 kilometres from Doha on the west coast, was the site of Qatar’s first commercial oil production plant, which was commissioned in 1949. The discovery of significant quantities of gas in the Khuff reservoir in 1958 led to the construction of the country’s first two major power plants, which were later integrated into the industrial city.

State oil firm Qatar Petroleum (QP) took over operations at Dukhan when Doha nationalised its oil and gas resources in 1974, and remains the site’s operator. Dukhan contains production facilities for the country’s three main oil producing fields and the Khuff gas reservoir, a power station, a desalination plant, about 1,900 housing units and a medical centre.

Ras Laffan Industrial City

Ras Laffan Industrial City was established in 1996 as part of plans to develop the giant North Field gas reservoir. It is run by QP. Doha’s strategy of working with international private sector partners for each stage of the development of the field has shaped the growth of the city. It is the home of Qatargas, a holding company involved in a series of joint-venture developments with the US’ ExxonMobil, France’s Total, UK/Dutch Shell Group and Japan’s Mitsui. Qatargas was the original occupant of the industrial city and shipped its first cargo of liquefied natural gas from Ras Laffan in 1996. Other key occupants are Rasgas, a joint venture of QP and the US’ ExxonMobil, and North Field Alpha, a QP-run company that supplies the domestic market.

Ras Laffan is also home to the world’s largest gas-to-liquids (GTL) facility, a small condensate refiner, a petrochemicals plant and a polysilicon complex being built by state-owned Qatar Solar Technologies.

Activity at Ras Laffan is limited to QP-led operations and joint ventures. Smaller investors in the industrial city work in the Ras Laffan Support Services Area, where land leases start at 15 years for spaces that are more than 6,000 hectares.

Mesaieed Industrial City

Mesaieed Industrial City is run by a subsidiary of QP and was inaugurated in 2004, making it the newest of the industrial city schemes. It is the home of several downstream companies, including Qatar Fertiliser Company (Qafco), Qatar Petrochemical Company (Qapco), Qatar Steel Company, Qatar Vinyl company, Qatar Chemical Company (Q-Chem) and the Qatalum aluminium smelter, all of which are state-owned or public-private joint ventures.

The city encourages investment by offering a variety of incentives, including zero export duties and corporation tax.

Doha Industrial Area

Doha Industrial Area was originally just a plot of land set aside for firms that needed space for warehouses and light manufacturing. Today, it is a key part of the government’s plans to boost the number of small to medium-sized enterprises in Qatar and is directly connected to a key gas pipeline. Since 2001, it has been undergoing an expansion by the Energy & Industry Ministry. The first phase was completed in 2005 and a second phase including roads and utilities is under way.

Foreign firms can rent land from QR5 ($1.37) a square metre. The area is overseen by the Industrial Estates Ministry, and Mirage International Property Consultants handles enquiries from companies interested in setting up.

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