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Qatar woos foreign talent with 5-year residency permit

Qatar hopes to lure skilled individuals and wealthy entrepreneurs Shutterstock/Sven Hansche
Qatar hopes to lure skilled individuals and wealthy entrepreneurs
  • Renewable residencies on offer
  • IMF recommends labour reforms
  • Nations compete for skilled workers

Qatar has launched a residency permit aimed at attracting talented individuals and entrepreneurs. 

The permit programme, which is expected to open in the next few months, offers five-year renewable residencies to people with expertise in specific fields including the arts and scientific research.

Applicants must either have a job offer in Qatar or demonstrate financial self-sufficiency.

Entrepreneurs are required to present a business plan approved by a Qatari incubator, reflecting a minimum investment of $68,000.

The Qatar residency permit mirrors efforts across the Gulf to attract global talent and secure an economic future beyond oil and gas.

It joins an intense competition – the UAE and Saudi Arabia have already relaxed visa policies with the same aim.

Traditionally, Gulf countries offered employment-based visas with limited duration, a practice that has been a barrier to long-term foreign investment and retaining talent.

Despite growth in non-hydrocarbon activity, Qatar’s economy still relies heavily on hydrocarbon exports and revenues. 

The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) latest country analysis, published in February, recommends labour reforms to increase the proportion of skilled foreign workers in Qatar to address its economic challenges. 

These include lower labour productivity compared to its Gulf counterparts, a shortage of skilled workers and mismatches in the labour market.

“With some 90 percent of the workforce being foreigners, increasing the share of skilled foreign workers has the greatest impact on growth and labour productivity in the non-hydrocarbon sector,” the report said.

The IMF suggests improving labour market dynamics and attracting highly skilled expatriates by modernising visa processes, easing residency status acquisition for skilled workers and entrepreneurs and strengthening the social safety net for expatriate workers.

It said boosting the proportion of skilled foreign workers by 10 percentage points could elevate annual non-hydrocarbon GDP growth by 1.5 percentage points over five years. It could also improve labour productivity by 7.5 percent above the baseline level by 2028.

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