How London stands to gain from Qatar crisis
Property brokers in London say they are witnessing an increase in demand from Qataris
With a population of only 2,338,610, according to a United Nations estimate, Qatar is known as the world's richest country per capita with an insatiable appetite for investment. Since its inception in 2005, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), created with the purpose to administer the country's fortune from liquiefied natural gas sales, has acquired $335 billion in assets around the globe, making its sovereign wealth fund the 14th largest in the world, according to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute.
2017 has proven to be a challenging year so far, following a diplomatic rift between several Arab countries, comprising Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt which decided to cut off all ties with Qatar. Qatari banks are already noticing the first signs of strain, as Saudi and UAE banks are delaying any Qatar deals, putting the riyal under tremendous pressure.
The immediate social and economic impact on the small state might be devastating. Qatar is a huge import country and has received a massive blow across at least five key sectors, such as shipping, food, banking, airline and stocks.
Panic has risen among Qatari nationals who are reported to be keen to get rid of their assets in the UAE at all costs. Some went to the extent of selling their properties 20 per cent below the market price, while others have adopted lucrative strategies to attract buyers and tenants. For those who are not currently present in the UAE and who wish to sell their assets, the arrangement of signing a deal is even more complicated, as they will be compelled to give a power of attorney to a non-Qatari citizen to sell the property on their behalf.
While it might be too early to assess how this unprecedented diplomatic rift will unfold and what the long-term consequences will be, one thing is for sure: Qataris are in a frenzy to take their cash away from the Middle East. And as the crisis deepens, we are going to notice a significant shift in capital inflow and investments in the property markets in Doha, with a sole winner: London.
Property brokers in London have divulged that they are witnessing an increase in demand from Qataris willing to move their assets away from the Middle East and into the UK capital. The London property market will surely benefit from the current geopolitical situation in the Gulf.
The writer is the CEO of Al Ruwad Real Estate. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper's policies.
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