With just days to go before the kick-off of the 2022 football World Cup in Qatar, everyone’s attention is on the tiny oil-rich Arab state.
But its billionaire Royal Family and other rich Qataris have had their eye on London for years already, pouring millions of pounds into landmark buildings and construction projects across the capital over the last 15 years.
The upmarket West London neighbourhood of Mayfair has even been dubbed ‘Little Doha’ after Qatar’s capital due to the amount of property there bought up by rich Qataris – with the Royal Family leading the way.
But arguably no area of London has been altered so much by the millions of pounds Qatar has pumped into it as South London.
From the UK’s tallest building, the Shard, to a giant development changing Lewisham’s town centre beyond recognition, here are the buildings Qatar’s billionaire rulers and citizens have funded and snapped up south of the River Thames.
The Shard, Southwark
Rich Qataris pumped nearly £2bn into the building of Western Europe’s tallest building in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.
Investors from the Gulf state purchased 80per cent of the building when it was valued at £2billion in 2008. Qatar still holds on to much of the area around the Shard near London Bridge, including the offices of News UK, which publishes the Times and the Sun.
Lewisham Gateway, Lewisham
The Qatari government’s investment fund, Qatari Diar, is involved in the multi-million-pound regeneration of Lewisham town centre.
Qatari Diar owns a minority chunk of build-to-rent developer Get Living which is creating 649 rental homes next to Lewisham Station as part of its Lewisham Gateway regeneration scheme.
Once finished next year, the development will include 25,000 sq ft of shops, offices, a new gym and Lewisham’s first major multi-screen cinema, as well as new public space.
Elephant and Castle, Southwark
Qatari Diar became part owners of hundreds of new rental apartments forming the first part of Elephant and Castle’s regeneration in 2016.
The 374 new homes are rented out under the Get Living brand.
The project also includes 278 student flats across three buildings at Elephant and Castle.
The scheme sits alongside the wider £3 billion revamp of Elephant and Castle, including the former shopping centre which was controversially bulldozed in 2021.
Shell Centre, Lambeth
The Qatari Royal Family’s investment company is also behind the redevelopment of Shell’s former 27-storey European Headquarters on the South Bank into luxury apartments.
The wider area is being turned into shops, offices, cultural space and 762 high-end flats.
Harlequin Building, Southwark
A property company that buys up buildings for Qatari royalty splashed millions on acquiring the Harlequin Building office block on Southwark Street in 2019.
According to the Evening Standard, Alduwaliya Asset Management picked up the seven-storey building for around £60 million from real estate firm Meadow Partners.
Qatari firm Alduwaliya Asset Management also owns the nearby riverside HQ of television watchdog Ofcom.
Qataris’ UK property empire is estimated to be worth more than £10bn today, according to the Observer.
The Gulf state hasn’t limited itself to the British capital though and its government investment company Qatari Diar is also behind multi-million pound projects in Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow.