Qatar: Data Protection Law In Qatar

At the end of 2016, the legislative framework for data protection in Qatar was overhauled by Law No. 13 of 2016 Concerning Personal Data Protection (the DPL). Over a year on, we take a look at the DPL and how it is likely to transform the regulatory landscape for privacy in Qatar.

The DPL incorporates concepts familiar from other international privacy frameworks and enshrines an individual's right to have their personal data protected. It mandates that any party who processes such data adhere to the principles of transparency, fairness and respect for human dignity. It will require prompt action to ensure compliance, both for governance reasons and given that the law introduces material fines for breach.

The DPL will help build consumer trust in Qatar in the online environment and may encourage consumers to engage with innovative technologies in confidence that their data will be protected. It comes at a time when the rapid pace of technological change means that more personal data than ever before is being processed electronically, including the advance of big data and internet of things technologies.

Scope of application of the DPL

The DPL applies to: (i) personal data, being data relating to identifiable individuals; and (ii) any personal data that is processed electronically.

The DPL will apply in most instances where personal data is handled. Article 2 provides that the requirements shall apply where personal data (being data which identifies an individual or which can be used in combination with other data to identify an individual) is electronically processed, or obtained, gathered or extracted in preparation for electronic processing, or where a combination of electronic and traditional processing is used.

The regulator responsible for implementing and enforcing the DPL in Qatar is the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC). The DPL does not specify any geographic limitations on its application. However, the MoTC's ability to bring enforcement action against organisations with no legal presence in Qatar will be limited.

Companies operating in Qatar have been given a grace period, until 30 June 2018, to achieve compliance with the DPL.

Failure to comply with requirements of the DPL may give rise to a fine of up to a maximum of five million Qatari Riyals (equivalent to approximately 1,375,000 US Dollars). Specific penalties apply to breach of the different fundamental articles of the DPL.

Requirements of the DPL

Where the DPL applies, a company will be obliged to comply with certain restrictions and obligations relating to the collection, disclosure and safekeeping of personal data. The principal requirements can be split into the six categories which are set out below.

It is important to note that unlike many other jurisdictions, the DPL does not impose any specific restrictions or requirements that apply to international transfers of personal data (unless such transfer would inflict 'gross harm' on the data subject)

• Lawful grounds for processing

Personal data should not be processed without the approval of the data subject, unless the processing is necessary to achieve a legitimate purpose.

The legitimate purpose referred to may be satisfied by reference to the purpose of the data controller or a third party to whom the personal data is sent. It remains to be seen how narrowly the term 'necessary' will be interpreted in practice.

• Fair processing notices (FPNs)

To achieve transparency, the data controller (the person who determines, individually or jointly, the purposes for which and the manner in which the personal data is to be processed) is required to issue a notification to the data subject (the person to whom personal data relates), which specifies the identity of the data controller, the purposes for which the data will be processed and a comprehensive description of the processing activities.

• Compliant information handling practices

The DPL obliges the data controller to: (i) process personal data honestly and in accordance with the law; (ii) put in place appropriate measures to safeguard the data; (iii) comply with the privacy protection policies issued by the MoTC from time to time; (iv) review existing data protection measures before introducing new products / services relating to personal data; (v) ensure that the personal data collected is relevant and accurate; and (iv) not keep the data for longer than required.

• Effective management of third parties and employees

A data controller is responsible for identifying all parties who process personal data on its behalf. As defined in the DPL, the term 'data processor' includes both third party organisations as well as the data controller's own employees.

Both the data controller and data processors are required to take the necessary steps to protect personal data from loss, damage, alteration, disclosure or from being accessed or used accidentally or unlawfully. As an example, for data controllers this includes providing training to data processors and putting appropriate security measures and systems in place to ensure that the data is protected.

• Efficient handling of subject access requests

Data subjects have a right to access and review their personal data at any time (including an option to obtain a copy of their data for a fee) as well as to receive information regarding how their personal data is being processed.

• Data breach notification

Any data controller who suffers a data security breach which would cause 'gross harm' to the data subjects concerned must notify both the MoTC as regulator and the affected data subjects. In addition, the DPL requires that any data processor who suffers a breach of its security measures notify the data controller as soon as the data processor becomes aware of the breach.

'Gross harm' is not expressly defined in the DPL. However, the DPL does identify a category of data known as 'special personal data' which warrants a greater degree of protection. 'Special personal data' includes data relating to race, children, health, physical or psychological conditions, religious beliefs, sexual life or crimes. In our view 'gross harm' would include (but may not be limited to) any breach concerning special personal data.

The level of fines is undoubtedly designed to drive compliance and to deter irresponsible personal data handling practices. It also highlights how seriously the Qatari government is taking the protection of an individual's right to privacy.

The concepts and requirements of the DPL will be clarified in further ministerial decisions. However, indications are that the DPL is likely to transform the regulatory landscape for privacy in Qatar.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Practice Guides
by Mondaq Advice Centres
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions