In 2017, BBC reported that Qatar owns more properties in London than the Queen.
The amount of properties in London owned by Qatari individuals has increased by approximately 50% between 2018 and 2021, according to analysis by Alford Hughes Qatar.
The UK property market has been particularly attractive to Qatari nationals due to investment and residence opportunities it offers. It is among the top 20 countries to be part of the individual property ownership in Britain.
Qatar’s exclusive investment network for international real estate, Alford Hughes Qatar, found that buyers mainly choose to invest in prime Central London’s golden postcodes, Westminster being the most popular area, accounting for 21.5% of all London properties held by Qatari investors.
Westminster City Council holds some of London’s most ‘desirable’ neighbourhoods, including Mayfair, Marylebone, St James’s, Bayswater, Whitehall, and sections of Belgravia and Knightsbridge.
Rising as the second most popular place for these buyers is the borough of Wandsworth, reaching 12.4% of Qatari possession. The ‘multi-billion-pound makeover’ of Nine Elms, which includes the rebuilding of the Battersea Power Station, the new US Embassy, and two new tube stations, has created enormous interest in the area.
Between the years 2018 and 2021, the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham experienced a 76.5% increase, the biggest rise in Qatar ownership. Parts of Earls Court, Fulham, and Shepherd’s Bush have also been favoured among Qatari investors lately, due to “this trend and large-scale regeneration across West London,” Alford Hughes added.
The report doesn’t include purchases made by companies as it strictly focuses on the number of homes owned by Qatari individuals.
“Over the next 12 months, we expect purchase rates to rise as travel restrictions ease and Qatari purchasers see a buying opportunity. Our local investor network is taking advantage of a central London market that appears to be undervalued compared to historical values and has shown growth in the last two quarters.” Ryan Dougan, Lead Consultant in Investment Advisory at Alford Hughes Qatar said.
Qatari investments in the UK
According to Reuters, Qatari nationals and companies have spent an estimated $5.9 billion on “publicly disclosed commercial and development sites” in the UK since 2008.
Among the most notable investments include Harrods, the Shard building, Canary Wharf and a stake in the London Stock Exchange.
Qatar Investment Authority also owns 22% of Sainsbury and nearly 6% in Barclays bank. It also has a 20% stake in Heathrow Airport Holdings.
Qatari investors primarily choose to inject money in the UK as it offers tax exemption on profits foreign investors make when they sell properties.
However, in 2018 it was reported that tax exemptions enjoyed by these foreign investors have gradually been withdrawn and a tax break for the average first-time buyer was introduced.
A tax break refers to a benefit the government offers that reduces a person’s total tax liability.