In April of last year, news spread that Qatari Diar, the property investment arm of the national sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority, was set to acquire Singapore’s historic Raffles Hotel – famed for its colonial grandeur – for $275 million.
A favorite watering hole of literary figures including Somerset Maugham and Rudyard Kipling, and more recently of celebrities such as Beyoncé and the late Elizabeth Taylor, the Raffles Hotel was the type of signature deal the global real estate industry has come to expect of Qatar’s premier property investor.
Established in 2004 with a capitalization of $1 billion and a mandate to support Qatar’s economic diversification through quality real estate investments, the company today boasts 35 projects in 20 countries with an asset value of more than $40 billion.
In London, some of these landmark developments include the $2 billion,13-acre Chelsea Barracks complex, just a stone’s throw from Sloane Square, where Qatari Diar will develop 2,000 homes plus shops and office buildings. The company also owns 80% of the Shard of Glass tower near London Bridge, which will be Europe’s tallest building when completed next year. In November 2010, the company acquired the U.S. Embassy in Grosvenor Square for $664 million, with plans to transform it into a luxury hotel and apartments, bringing its investment in the city to nearly $5 billion – a figure it has said it hopes will increase to $8 billion or more.
Also a 40% owner in luxury hotel chain Fairmont Raffles Hotels International (at a cost of $847 million), Qatari Diar has acquired the Le Royal Monceau in Paris, which it will reopen under the Raffles name after a complete remodeling that will convert it into a luxury 152-room hotel with interiors by Philippe Starck.
In addition to London and Paris, Qatari Diar’s high-profile global investments have extended to Thailand, Morocco, Egypt, Oman, Syria, Sudan, Seychelles, Tajikistan, Libya, Mauritania and Mauritius. And this is just outside Qatar.
At home, Qatari Diar is involved in a number of highly significant infrastructure and property projects. The company is building the new 112-storey Doha Convention Center and Tower, and in a joint venture with Deutsche Bahn, will develop the national railway network.
This cutting-edge, fully integrated system is the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken in Qatar and will result in the creation of more than 7,000 jobs. The multibillion-dollar project will consist of various lines, including a high-speed link between the New Doha International Airport, Doha City Center and the Kingdom of Bahrain, as well as the Doha Metro Network. The resulting railway system will decongest Qatar’s highways, raise traveler safety, and give tourism a boost.
In line with its emphasis on environmentally sustainable communities, Qatari Diar is the developer behind the $7 billion Lusail City, one of the largest and most innovative projects in the Middle East, which will eventually house some 200,000 residents and create a sister city to the Qatari capital.
The award-winning Lusail City development is undoubtedly one of Qatar’s most visionary projects. A holistic city created by Lusail Real Estate Development Ltd., a subsidiary of Qatari Diar, the development will turn 13.5 square miles of undeveloped waterfront into a progressive, world-class city containing educational, health and recreational facilities when fully completed in 10 to 15 years.
Lusail City will also be home to the Qatar Entertainment City, a family entertainment destination with a theme park and five districts with different entertainment offers.