Qatar: Buying Britain by the pound

It’s hard to walk round London and admire the sights without admiring something paid for by Qatar.

From some of the most famous hotels and landmarks to the cranes arcing over the South Bank, Qatar has a substantial finger in a huge number of pies.

The UK is Qatar’s single largest investment destination, with £35bn in place and another £5bn on its way in the next five years.

And it is now said that Qatar owns more land in London than the Queen.

The next batch of £5bn is headed for sectors ranging from infrastructure and energy to IT.

However, the pace may be slowing slightly after a rapid acceleration in the last five to 10 years, and Qatar’s focus is turning instead to the US, where it aims to invest some $35bn (£27bn).

Both here and in the US, the investments will be largely channelled through the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) the country’s sovereign wealth fund, that has a global portfolio worth about $335bn.

And it all comes from gas.

Qatar’s oil output is relatively modest. But it is, through happy geological coincidence, situated on top of the South Pars Field, the single largest known natural gas field in the world, which straddles the Gulf.

Of that, about 26 million sq ft is commercial property.

CWG owns some 16 million sq ft in the heart of London, including 20 Fenchurch Street, nicknamed the Walkie Talkie, and the Shell Centre redevelopment on London’s South Bank.