Qatar has published a first version of its new Personal Information Privacy Protection Law. This is a groundbreaking development as, should the law be enacted, it will make Qatar the only country in the Middle East to have nationally-applicable data protection legislation.

The draft legislation applies to operators in the private and public sectors and to “electronic processing of personal information about an individual.” The proposed definition of personal information covers any information that can reasonably be linked to an individual, regardless of whether the individual can be identified (thus extending to geographic location data). The draft text also includes the accountability principle, requiring organizations to appoint staff to oversee processes involving use of personal information and ensure that personnel are trained in information protection practices.

The Qatari government is currently seeking input from international privacy experts on the content of the draft law, including whether the law should include the principle of “privacy by design,” i.e. an obligation to incorporate privacy protections into products and systems at the outset of their development. For more information see here.