Qatar eases rules on foreign property ownership amid slump

Qatar is renewing efforts to make real estate more attractive to expatriate residents, foreign investors and real estate funds.

A new law will add to the limited number of locations where non-Qataris can buy real estate outright, according to a statement on Tuesday. The country will also implement a two-tiered residency program that rewards large investors with government-provided services.

Qatar has been grappling with excess supply following a construction boom tied to the 2022 soccer World Cup, and property prices have slumped 26% since the start of 2016. Consulting firm ValuStrat estimates an oversupply of residential property reached 80,000 units at the end of the first half, with 7,250 more units expected to hit the market in 2020.

The country’s Minister of Commerce and Industry Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari said the new rules will benefit both domestic and international investors, and further boost the diversification of the economy.

Buyers of a property worth 3.65 million riyals ($1 million) or more will be eligible for permanent residency, with benefits inluding health care and education – boons typically granted only to citizens and a tiny contingent of foreigners who’ve lived in Qatar for decades.

A lower class of residency status is open to buyers of real estate worth 730,000 riyals, who can obtain renewable residency permits for themselves and their families without employer sponsorship.

The developments follow labor reforms that make it easier for foreign workers to change jobs. Al Kuwari had said those reforms seek to foster a less transient workforce of skilled professionals.