Business, Economics and Jobs

How Qatar spends its billions


A view of Doha's skyline. The FIFA world cup 2022 is set to take place in Qatar.


Christof Koepsel

When it was announced that Qatar would host the 2022 World Cup, many in the international community were taken aback. To them, Qatar and its capital Doha still represented an economically backward desert area incapable of keeping up with booming growth centers like Rio de Janeiro or Shanghai. 

Doha, it turns out, is on par with these metropolises, even surpassing them in certain ranks. Today, Qatar has the highest per capita income in the world, according to the CIA.

Its preeminent economic status is largely due to the fact that it also has the third largest gas reserves and is the leading liquid natural gas exporter in the world, according to the New York Review of Books. The result is that today, one-tenth of the Qatari populace (29,000 people) are millionaires. 

Deft Qatari investments must not be understated, however. The country's sovereign wealth fund — the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) — is the 12th largest in the world with $85 billion in assets. Through holding and property subsidiaries, Qatar has gobbled up billions of dollars in real estate, retail, sporting, financial, and cultural investments. This year, according to Bloomberg, the QIA intends to spend $30 billion.

Here are 5 ways qatar is investing its $85 billion sovereign wealth fund

1.) The Qatari royal family owns a media empire.

Qatar's ultra-powerful emir, Khalifa al Thani, was worth $2 billion as of 2008. In 1996, he helped found Arab media empire Al Jazeera with a $140 million grant.
Today the station is owned by the Qatar Media Corporation — which has reportedly poured more than $1 billion into the channel, which boasts over 200 million viewers worldwide.

Sources: Forbes, The New York Review of Books, and Forbes

2.) The Qatar Investment Authority is heavily invested in Barclays.

The QIA is largest shareholder in Barclays. In 2009, Qatar Holding — a subsidiary of the QIA — sold 35 million shares of the British bank, reducing its share to around 5.8 percent from a little over 6 percent.

Recently, Qatar signed a joint-venture with Barclays to investment $250 million into the bank's natural resource fund. The partnership is very much still alive.

Sources: The Guardian, SWF Institute, and The Wall Street Journal

3.) It's also heavily invested in Credit Suisse, including the bank's headquarters.

The QIA currently has a 6.17 percent stake in Credit Suisse. This year, its real estate arm — Qatari Diar — purchased the Swiss bank's 546,000 square-foot London headquarters at Canary Wharf for $517 million with a lease back agreement in place.

Source: Reuters

4.) Qatar bought department store Harrods, and is turning it into a global hotel brand.

In 2010, Qatar Holding — on behalf of the QIA's chairman/Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani — bought upscale English retailer Harrods for $2.35 billion. Jaber al Thani has big plans for the brand. Next year he plans to break ground on a Harrods hotel in Kuala Lampur, with more to come in New York City and Paris. Under Jaber al Thani, the QIA has been buying up retail spaces across the world. It recently bought a prime complex in Paris' ritzy Champs-Elysées boulevard.

Sources: The Daily Mail and Al Arabiya News

5.) It is also developing high-end hotels across Europe

Qatar's hotel arm — Katara Hospitality — is set to buy four luxury hotels in France, including the Martinez in Cannes and the Concorde Lafayette in Paris.
It currently is developing the 200-room Peninsula Hotel in Paris, which in the 1970s was the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs when Henry Kissinger concluded the Vietnam War. Katara Hospitality is currently redeveloping the Excelsior Hotel Gallia in Milan and the Hotel Schweizerhof in Zurich.

Sources: Qatari Diar and The Peninsula Qatar

See the full list on Business Insider's original article

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