Qatar threatens to retaliate against Britain: How did a small Middle Eastern country become the biggest “landlord” in London?

Qatar is one of the biggest investors in London and it is the biggest landlord in England.

5 mins read
Qatar threatens to retaliate against Britain: How did a small Middle Eastern country become the biggest "landlord" in London?

If Qatar sells off a lot of London property, a tornado is going to hit the British economy. This year’s Qatar World Cup has seen a lot of strife from the green field to the field of fame and fortune. Qatar has been boycotted by Western countries before the opening of the World Cup through various “human rights issues”. This time is really a bit annoyed.

Transport of London announced a total ban on Qatari advertising on London’s buses, tubes and cabs in protest of Qatar’s World Cup ban on European teams wearing “rainbow armbands”.

▲ rainbow armbands

Qatar said it was “reviewing current and future investments in London” and was “considering investment opportunities in other UK cities and former British dominions” in retaliation.

Qatar is really not bragging when it says this.

【1】The biggest landlord in London

Qatar is one of the biggest investors in London. It also pledged to invest £10 billion in the UK over the next five years in areas such as technology, healthcare and infrastructure originally this year in May.

Qatar is one of the biggest investors in London.
▲ the British media reported that Qatar would invest £10 billion over the next five years.

Over the past 20 years, Qatar has bought a number of London landmarks: Harrods, the Shard, the Savoy Hotel, the London Olympic Village and many more in over the past 20 years. Qatar became the largest “landlord” in London in 2019. It holds over 26 million square feet of property.

Qatar has more real estate than the Queen of Britain plus the London Transport Authority owned at the time when she was still alive. In addition to real estate, it is also the biggest shareholder in Barclays Bank, London Stock Exchange, British Airways and Heathrow Airport, and it also holds 50% of Canary Wharf Group (jointly with Brookfield Canada)

the world most expensive skyscrapers
▲ the world most expensive skyscrapers

The Qatar Investment Authority spent almost £1.5 billion to acquire a 95% stake in the Shard to prevent it from becoming a building in disrepair in 2008. The investment in London is just a drop in the bucket of Qatar’s vast overseas assets.

Qatar wholly acquired Valentino. Qatar is the biggest shareholder of Deutsche Bank and it is the third largest shareholder of Volkswagen.

Qatar’s threat to retaliate against the UK is not really bragging.

【2】 Qatar Investment Authority with more than $460 billion

Although the country of Qatar is small, its wealth is surprisingly large. Qatar Investment Authority which is a Sovereign Wealth Fund holds more than $460 billion to make profit for Qatar.

A Sovereign Wealth Fund is simply public wealth that a country’s government controls and dominates. It uses that money to invest and make more profit. Although it‘s not as famous as the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Qatar Investment Authority is to make investment behind many of the companies.

For example, Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter. Qatar Investment Authority provided $375 million as an investor. The Qatar Investment Authority, with more than $460 billion in assets, is the 9th largest sovereign wealth fund in the world, according to public reports. The asset allocation includes credit, fixed income investments, real estate, infrastructure, private equity and other alternative investments. 50 to 55% of the asset allocation is concentrated in private and public equity.

In addition to its investments in Europe, QIB has over $30 billion in the United States, mainly in the real estate and infrastructure sectors.

In Asia, Qatar has recently invested in 30 residential buildings in Japan, as well as in high-tech, new energy and electric vehicle industries. Qatar’s investment in China has also reached $10 billion since 2016.

▲ Qatar Investment Authority: Nations has the most to invest worldwide
▲ Qatar Investment Authority: Nations has the most to invest worldwide

【3】Why Qatar continue to invest globally even wealth enough ?

The International Monetary Fund projects that Qatar’s GDP per capita will reach $82,887 in 2022, ranking 5th in the world.

This Qatar Political Wall Map i
▲ Qatar Map
Qatar Map
▲ Qatar Map
▲ Qatar Political Map

Qatar is situated on a peninsula that extends from the Arabian Peninsula approximately 190 km (120 mi) north into the Persian (or Arab) Gulf. Qatar’s only land border is with Saudi Arabia. The country shares maritime borders with Bahrain, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The country covers an area of 11,586 km² (4,473 sq mi); compared, Qatar is about 1.25 times larger than Cyprus or somewhat larger than Puerto Rico. Qatar’s landscape is mostly flat desert except in the southwest, where undulating dunes form and flatten towards Khawr al Udayd, the so-called Inland Sea, a bay of the Persian Gulf. Only 1% of the country is used as arable land.

The emirate (an Arabic Islamic monarchy) has a population of about 3 million people (in 2022); Qatari nationals represent only a minority (less than 15%) in the Gulf state. The capital and largest city is Doha (Ad Dawhah, est. population 800,000). Official language is Arabic (Gulf Arabic). English is the second language and lingua franca, especially in commerce and tourism. Hindi and Urdu are also widely spoken.


Qatar is one of the world’s largest exporters of natural gas. It is one of the richest countries in the world despite of its small size. The oil and gas industry make Qatar become the richest country in the world. Why is Qatar going to hold the World Cup 2022? Why it runs around the world looking for projects to invest in?

Qatar was poor, Qatar’s mainstay industries were pearl gathering and trading before oil and gas were discovered. Especially after being colonized by the British in the 19th century, natural pearl harvesting was the almost sole livelihood of Qataris in order to satisfy the wealthy Anglo-American industrial class.

Japan invented artificial cultured pearls before World War II, and even this only industry in Qatar was killed off.

▲ pearl harvesting in Qatar
▲ pearl harvesting in Qatar
▲ pearl harvesting in Qatar
▲ pearl harvesting in Qatar

Qatar was a small and poor country until 1971, when it broke away from colonial rule and established itself as a nation. It was only with the discovery of oil and natural gas that Qatar became rich. It rely on its resources and global economy to become one of the richest countries in the world.

Qatar understands that there are still enough resources to win for decades. There is no guarantee that it will not repeat the mistakes of the year pearl picking by single economic model.

【4】Rich, not capricious

We have money, but we can’t buy globally. Our own country still has to be built, our own economy and industry still has to be developed.

Let’s take a look at the most expensive Qatar 2022 World Cup .

most expensive Qatar 2022 World Cup
▲The most expensive Qatar 2022 World Cup / Source from Statista

Qatar has amassed astronomical costs of around $220 billion. The GDP of Qatar in 2021 is $179.6 billion. Qatar spent more than a year of the country’s GDP to host a World Cup in other words. Qatar expects that the football fans and visitors will bring in $17 billion during the World Cup tournament.

The calculation shows World Cup tournament is losing money at all. However, the bulk of this money is invested in infrastructure development.

New local facilities include air-conditioned stadiums, metro light rail, airports, shopping malls, hotels. It has even built the small seaside village of Al Lusail into the second largest city in Qatar because of the World Cup.

Some agencies have predicted that these inputs are expected to generate $240 billion in revenue and create more than 1.5 million new jobs for the Qatari economy by 2025 with concentrated in the construction, real estate and hospitality sectors.

Qatar tourism spending
▲ Qatar tourism spending
▲ Qatar tourism total GDP contribution
▲ Qatar tourism total GDP contribution

Qatar’s tourism industry has been rising rapidly in recent years. Qatar will host the Asian Cup for the third time next year. The experience of these venues, transportation, accommodation and management will help them to host more international tournaments in the future.

Qatar wants to create the new industry of sports and tourism. Back in 2014, the Qatar Tourism Authority released the Qatar National Tourism Strategy 2030, which proposes to promote Qatar as the fastest growing tourism destination in the Middle East, aiming to increase the share of tourism to 8% of GDP by 2030.

A look back the Qatar Investment Authority shows that they are buying luxury brands, airports, airlines, and luxury hotels in a planned way.

Driving the Tourism Recovery in Qatar
▲ Download Driving the Tourism Recovery in Qatar pdf file

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