Owners of neighborhood stores in Qatar, known as baqalas, can now operate until at least 2019 as they are now allowed to renew licenses annually for three more years, Doha News reported.
The fate of these shops has been in question for more than four years. Since 2012, Qatar’s business ministry has been trying not to renew licenses of small businesses such as local barber shops and grocery stores in residential areas.
The ministry wanted to remove such shops from residential areas as they said to have violated zoning laws.
The stores have been operating on licenses given by the Emir years ago to Qatari widows, divorcees, and nationals in low-income brackets.
However, Central Municipal Council has demanded that the stores be relocated into commercial complexes within residential areas.
In response, the government has extended the license of these shops many times to allow for commercial zones to be built.
However, despite the government’s plan to open nine commercial zones around Doha, thousands of stores remain in their original locations.
The last extension by the government was granted in 2013. The three-year extension was due to expire this month.
The new three-year extension approved by the cabinet will now extend the life of these shops till 2019.
This is the second such micro-entrepreneur friendly moves Qatar has made this month.
A week ago, the Qatari government announced new licensing procedures for entrepreneurs running home businesses, in a bid to regulate that growing home business market in the country.
The process has been designed specifically for small businesses, and self-employed residents, Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC) said in a statement.
However, the ministry did not specify whether the regulations apply only to Qataris or expats too.
MEC said commercial activities based on personal skills cannot involve hazardous materials or equipment that causes inconvenience to others.
Examples include sewing and embroidery, wedding photography, gift packaging, flower arranging, cooking and making beauty products such as perfumes and cosmetics.