Thursday, 4 October 2012

On Qatar by Mark Almond

LONDON’S newest landmark, the Shard, is more than Europe’s tallest building – it is a symbol of a dramatic shift in world power.

Owned by the tiny Gulf state of Qatar, the Shard is the tip of cash-rich Qatar’s investment iceberg in Britain.

With an income which makes Bob Diamond seem like a Big Issue seller, Qatar had enough cash to buy 20 per cent of Barclays while adding other blue chips to their portfolio.

In London alone, the Muslim emirate has been buying up everything from Chelsea Barracks to the new Olympic Village.

Qatar failed in its bid to stage the Olympics but it will be home to the World Cup in 2022. Its own teams haven’t made a mark on the world of soccer but sponsorship of Barcelona has made Qatar a global footie brand.

With billions in revenue from natural gas, Qatar’s ruling al-Thani family could have been just rich Arabs on a buying and bling spree.

Of course, like other rich Arabs in London, the Qataris go in for plenty of the “off with the chador” and foot down on the pedal of the Lamborghini but the tiny emirate punches above its weight in world politics. Britain used to “protect” the Persian Gulf state. Now the Emir helps our economy out in return for backing his foreign policy.
Read the rest of Mark Almond's piece on Qatar here

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