As the world's richest country, it's no surprise that Qatar owns many expensive things around the world. Here are some of the top
Qatar’s high GDP per capita makes it rank high among world's richest nations. Its oil and gas account for over 60% of its government revenue. In the past few years, it has made many headlines, especially with the FIFA World Cup 2022 being hosted there from November to December.
So if you’ve ever wondered what they do with all this wealth, well we’re about to give you a glimpse. Interestingly enough, you will notice that most of its assets are located in the UK.
Volkswagen – £5.9 billion
In 2008, Porsche made a disastrous attempt to take over Volkswagen and it fell apart during the financial crisis. Qatar struck gold and made a deal that kept the luxury sports car-maker afloat. Qatar Holding, the sovereign wealth fund of the State of Qatar, bought 10% of Porsche shares and 17% of Volkswagen shares.
Porsche bought back its shares eventually, but Volkswagen shares remain with Qatar. The total deal is estimated to be around 5.9 billion British pounds (around US$8.85 billion).
Barclays – £3.8 billion
During the 2008 financial crisis, Qatar Holding swooped in and helped Barclays, a British multinational banking and financial services company, by becoming their major shareholder for 3.8 billion British pounds (around US$5.7 billion).
In 2009, Qatar sold stakes for 1.4 billion British pounds (around $US2.2 billion at the time), with 750 million pounds going to Barclays, and then again in 2012, they cashed in the remaining warrants for 186.6 million British pounds (about US$280 million), all the while staying one of the bank’s top shareholders.
Canary Wharf Group – £2.6 billion
Canary Wharf Group, London’s iconic real estate business, became a joint-venture in 2015 between Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), which is a Qatar state-owned holding company, and Brookfield Property Partners, a New York-based global real estate company.
The two bought out Songbird Estates Plc, which had a 69.37% stake, in addition to the remaining share capital of the Canary Wharf Group, for 2.6 billion British pounds (about US$3.9 billion) and consequently acquiring their share capital in Canary Wharf Group.
Sainsbury's – Over £2.1 billion
In 2007, the QIA became the largest shareholder of UK’s second largest chain of supermarkets Sainsbury’s, holding 26% of the company. It was acquired for over 2.1 billion British pounds (around US$4.2 billion). Sainsbury’s hold a 16.6% share of the UK supermarket sector.
Harrods – £1.5 billion
High end department store chain Harrods was purchased by Qatar Holding in May, 2010 for 1.5 billion British pounds (around US$2.3 billion at the time). Aside from the 330 stores, the Harrods brand also includes the Harrods Bank, Harrods Estates, Harrods Aviation and Air Harrods.
Claridge’s, The Berkeley and The Connaught – Speculated to be over £1.6 billion
The QIA’s Constellation Hotels bought 64% of stake in Coroin, which is the holding company that owns the Maybourne Hotel Group consisting of 3 of London's most renowned luxury hotels: Claridge’s, The Berkley and The Connaught. They bought it from the Barclay Brothers.
International Airlines Group (IAG) – Speculated to be around £1.15 billion
Earlier in 2016, Qatar Airways, which is owed by the Qatari government, increased its stake in British Airways owner IAG, totalling 20%. IAG is also the holding company of Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling. The price paid was not made public but based on the share price before the deal was closed, it’s estimated to be around 1.15 billion British pounds (around US$1.4 billion).
Chelsea Barracks – £959 million
One of London’s most expensive residential areas, Chelsea Barracks, was originally acquired in 2007 by a joint-venture of Qatari Diar, a real estate company established by the QIA, and luxury property developer CPC Group for 959 million British pounds (about US$1.19 billion). Later on, CPC’s interest was bought out by Qatari Diar.
London Olympic Village – £557 million
As a joint-venture, Qatari Diar and British property development Delancey bought the Olympic Village for 557 million British pounds (about US$906 million). The Olympic Village, also known as the East Village, was designed and constructed for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games and no serves as a residential district.
Valentino Fashion Group – £576.6 million
Investment fund Mayhoola, owned by the Qatari Royal Family, purchased the luxury Italian fashion company Valentino Fashion Group for £576.6 million (about US$865 million) in 2012. The deal also gave them control of the casualwear line M Missoni.
Empire State Building – £478.5 million
The QIA purchased a 9.9 percent stake in Empire State Realty Trust, the firm that owns the Empire State Building. The firm also owns several properties in Manhattan, Westchester County and Connecticut.
City Center D.C – £466 million
City Center D.C is a development located in downtown Washington, D.C. taking up 31,600 square meters. Qatari Diar invested around 466 million British pounds (US$700 million), making it the principal owner.
The London Park Lane Hotel – £301.5 million + £100
Qatar Constellation Hotels bought the InterContinential’s London Park Lane hotel in a massive deal of 301.5 million British pounds (around US$452 million). They also spent a 100 million British pounds (around US$150 million) to acquire the freehold from the Crown Estate.
Le Grand Hotel – £280 million
Qatar Constellation Hotels also bought the iconic Le Grand Hotel in Paris from the Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) in 2014. The hotel was part of the IHG brand since 1982 and they continue to manage the hotel even after this purchase. They paid £280 million (about US$420 million).
The two most expensive paintings – £200 million
In 2011, the Qatar Royal Family made history by paying the highest known price for a painting ever sold. They purchased “The Card Players” by French painter Paul Cézanne, purchased for over US$260 million. Then in early 2015, they beat their own record by purchasing Paul Gauguin’s “When Will You Marry?” for around US$300 million.
Their record was tied by investment firm Citadel’s CEO, Kenneth C. Griffin, when he purchased Willem de Kooning’s “Interchange” in September, 2015 for around the same amount.
InterContinental New York Barclay Hotel – £160 million
In yet another deal with the Qatar Constellation Hotels, the Intercontinental Hotels Group sold 80% stake in one of the top New York hotels for around 160 million British pounds (US$240 million). IHG remains the owner of the remaining 20% and the management of the hotel.
The Shard – £150 million
The Shard is the UK’s tallest skyscraper, standing at 309.6 metres. An 80% stake was bought by Qatari Diar in 2007 while it was still under development, for the price of 150 million British pounds (around US$225 million). Qatari Diar’s stake later increased to 95%, with the remaining 5% belonging to Sellar Property, a British property group.
Paris Saint-Germain Football Club – £85 million
The Qatar Sports Investment took over the Paris Football Club, first purchasing 70% in 2011 and then taking full ownership a year later. The whole purchase was valued at around 85 million British pounds (around US$130 million).
Other notable mentions:
50% stake in Shell Centre, 50% of London’s One Hyde Park, the former US embassy building in London’s Grosvenor Square and 10% of the London Exchange Stock Market.
*The currency conversion is based on the rate at the time of sale.