Qatar Exhibition Laws - The Application Procedure, Requisites, and Penalties
The importance of exhibitions and conventions to Qatar’s national economy is evidenced by the increasing number of events taking place.
DIMDEX, Hospitality Qatar 2019, Milipol exhibition are only a few of the many events taking place this year in an increasing number of venues, including the Qatar National Convention Centre and the Doha Exhibition Convention Centre.
Given the previously anticipated growth in this market segment, a new law was introduced to develop the applicable legal framework. Law No (17) of 2012, known as the “Exhibitions Law,” regulates all exhibitions and the organizers of exhibits within the State of Qatar and gives the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) oversight over all such licenses.
In this article, we will consider the requisites and parameters of the Exhibition Law, as well as its application and penalties for non-compliance.
Many activities and sectors are encompassed under this definition, as was the intention, to properly regulate and oversee the quality and output of the growing number of exhibitions held within the state. This ensures that they are held in appropriate venues and that the goods and services being exhibited are properly authorized before reaching the public.
The law requires anyone holding an exhibition as well as any offices organizing, setting up, or operating exhibitions to obtain a license from the QTA.
The license for holding exhibitions can vary and depend largely on the duration of the exhibition, i.e., anywhere between one to four days, whereas the license term for offices is one year.
It is worth noting that the Exhibitions Law does not regulate weddings, galas, concerts, and other entertainment events; a license from the Ministry of Culture Arts and Heritage is required for these types of events.
A person licensed to hold an exhibition in Qatar must comply with the exhibition period specified in the exhibition license. Additionally, they must hold the exhibition in the location specified in the license and ensure compliance of any requirement for all of the exhibits held within the exhibition.
If the holder of the license has assigned the license to a third party without the consent of QTA or is found performing any other business activities or works that contravene the license or violating public order or morals or engaging in anything that harms the State’s reputation or its national security, QTA may invalidate or cancel the license.
Penalties for failure to obtain an exhibition license include a prison sentence of up to one year and a fine of no less than QR 20,000 and no more than QR 100,000, notwithstanding any other stricter penalties provided in any other applicable law.
Whereby penalties for failure to comply with the requirements and restrictions of an exhibition license, once it has been granted, include a penalty of no less than QR 10,000 and no more than QR 50,000.
The Exhibition Law prohibits exhibition organizing offices from making any changes to the trade name, ownership, or management of the office without serving written notice to QTA of the changes.
Besides, licensees must provide proper opportunities to train, develop, and qualify Qatari nationals technically and administratively on the organization of exhibitions and relevant work as well as provide QTA with the annual training program schedule.
Upon cessation or termination of a license, an exhibition organizing office must announce the same, at its own expense, in any widespread national daily newspaper in the form prescribed by QTA.
Those holding licenses for offices organizing exhibitions generally serve as applicants for licenses for holding exhibitions; as such offices are familiar with the requirements and the application process.
The application timeframe provided in the Exhibition Law is swift, where approval (or rejection) is granted within 15 days from the date of submission of the application, and licenses may often be issued in shorter timeframes.
Regulation of the types of exhibitions allowed in the state, their duration, the requirements of the exhibits, the venues where exhibitions may get held, and the organizers of the exhibitions themselves must ensure that a minimum standard is maintained, encourage raising of the bar on the quality and operation of exhibitions and enhance the level of professionalism.