Recently, the Qatar Investment Authority has invested $622 million in the Empire State Building.
At first sight, it seems like no major news there. But, as usual, things are not as simple as they look, especially when it is about Muslims investing in the United States.
Let’s take a closer look.
Back in 2005, took place the creation of the Qatar’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, whose role was to help invest the country’s mostly liquid-gas-related financial resources.
Ten years later, in September 2015, quietly, Qatar’s $335 billion sovereign-wealth fund opened an office in New York City.
Back then, they committed to investing 35 billion in the United States.
It was another step for the Persian Gulf country to consolidate its financial presence in the United States and abroad.
“QIA has traditionally preferred Europe and is now looking to source more deals in the U.S.,” said Enrico Soddu, head of data and research at the London-based Sovereign Wealth Center. “Middle Eastern sovereign-wealth funds have often struggled to source direct deals in the States,” he added, noting that QIA has nevertheless already made some investments in the U.S. including buying a stake in movie distributor Miramax and luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co.
“Middle Eastern sovereign-wealth funds have often struggled to source direct deals in the States,” he added, noting that QIA has nevertheless already made some investments in the U.S. including buying a stake in movie distributor Miramax and luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co.
Indeed, in the aftermath of 9/11 most investments from the Muslim world, were not precisely welcome in the Land of the Free.
But, later on, and gently, the situation began to improve for them.
“The U.S. is becoming more attractive to sovereign investors,” said Nick Tolchard, head of Invesco Middle East. “Given the U.S. market has been performing well, it is seen as a strong investment destination,” he said.
Qatar’s U.S. plans come at a time when Persian Gulf countries are seeing their chief source of income shrink as a result of the lower oil prices. That has had a knock-on effect on the sovereign funds but so far most are continuing to deploy billions of dollars overseas.”
Some learning about Qatar, via Wikipedia:
“(Qatar) Is a sovereign country located in Southwest Asia, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its territory surrounded by the Persian Gulf. A strait in the Persian Gulf separates Qatar from the nearby island country of Bahrain, as well as sharing maritime borders with the United Arab Emirates and Iran.
Following Ottoman rule, Qatar became a British protectorate in the early 20th century until gaining independence in 1971. Qatar has been ruled by the House of Thani since the early 19th century. Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani was the founder of the State of Qatar. Qatar is a hereditary monarchy and its head of state is Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Whether it should be regarded as a constitutional or an absolute monarchy is a matter of opinion. In 2003, the constitution was overwhelmingly approved in a referendum, with almost 98% in favor. In 2013, Qatar’s total population was 1.8 million: 278,000 Qatari citizens and 1.5 million expatriates.
Qatar is a high-income economy and is a developed country, backed by the world’s third largest natural gas reserves and oil reserves. The country has the highest per capita income in the world. Qatar is classified by the UN as a country of very high human development and is the most advanced Arab state for human development Qatar is a significant power in the Arab world, supporting several rebel groups during the Arab Spring both financially and through its globally expanding media group, Al Jazeera Media Network. For its size, Qatar wields disproportionate influence in the world and has been identified as a middle power. ]Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, becoming the first Arab country to do so.” END
Meanwhile, Qatar, though tiny, is also a key member of OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
But, at the same time, Qatar is a strong American ally in the region.
Indeed, the Qatari government “hosts American bombers and the forward headquarters of the U.S. military’s Central Command at its vast al-Udeid air base.”
Just as important, American aircraft and personnel are there, involved in the ongoing US-led campaign against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. Yes. Seriously.
Fast forward to the present, in Manhattan.
In the last few days, news informed that Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund has splurged in a $622-million purchase acquiring a 9.9-percent stake in the company that owns the Empire State Building, no less.
The Empire State Realty Trust Inc., which manages the 102-story, 1,454-foot-tall building, has officially announced that Qatar now owns 9.9-percent in their company.
In all, the Trust owns a total of 14 office properties and six retail properties around the New York area.
Thus, now the strictly religious Muslim country of Qatar has become the owner of 9.9% of America’s major landmark, the Empire State Building.
Americans, quiet as usual.
Qatar real estate interest in New York City seems to be limitless.
Reportedly, in 2014, Qatar also acquired the Wildenstein residence at 19 E. 64th Street at the whopping price of $100 million.
The Wildensteins are a famous family of French art dealers who had their home and the gallery adjacent.
As details surfaced, seems that the 41 foot wide, 20,500 square foot mansion was never officially on the market, but it was unofficially for sale with a hefty $125 million asking price.
The New York Post specifies this “would be their first ever in New York City.”
However, in 2010, “When Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani snapped up 21 Beekman Place for $35 million last June, just days before he left his post as part of a regime change in which the long-ruling Emirƒ Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani handed power over to his 33-year-old son, we thought we had seen the end of Qatar’s real estate shopping spree. After all, the sun-flooded East River townhouse was the second that the sheik had bought in as many years—the first being Aby Rosen’s $48.5 million townhouse at 22 East 71st—and two townhouses seemed, at least to us, a bit excessive, even for a sheik. Especially given that Qatar and its ruling family already possess an extraordinary amount of rarefied Upper East Side square footage. Most notably, a 45,000-square mansion at 7-9 East 72nd Street, which has the distinction of being the largest single-family residence in all of New York, as well as a 28-foot townhouse at 43 East 70th and diplomatic space at UN Plaza.”
“The two landmarked townhouses 7 and 9 East 72nd Street were sold a few years back by the Lycée Français, following the posh private school’s move to a new building. The Lycée wanted $51 million for the beauties, according to an old Observer story, but ended up getting only $26 million from the buyer, the Emir of Qatar.”
What few know is that the mansions at 7-9 East 72nd Street went through a few-year-long rebuilding.
I know about it because a now deceased friend was the civil engineer in that project. He shared with me that they have built a bunker underneath, enough to keep the entire household for at least a year in safety.
I think this can give an idea to my readers of what is going on.
Back in 2007, when I was a consultant in the Gulf, I tested the CEO of a major hotel chain in the region: “How about you open a typical Arabic coffee shop in Manhattan?”
His answer? “The conditions are not propitious. Not yet.”
We are witnessing a patient and quiet takeover of New York City, America’s trophy city, by the Muslim rulers of Qatar.
Mayor Bloomberg was a key player in making it happen.
And no one seems willing to stop it.
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Thank you very much. Team-EB