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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund to invest $35bn in US over next five years

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Photo of New York City for illustrative purposes only.
Photo of New York City for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar plans to invest some US$35 billion in the United States over the next five years, the nation’s ambassador to the US has announced.

Mohammed Al Kuwari, Doha’s chief diplomat in Washington, tweeted the announcement several hours before Qatar’s Emir is scheduled to address the UN General Assembly in New York.

Al Kuwari said the investment would deepen economic cooperation between the two countries, adding that the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) would open an office in New York City:

Officials did not go into details about which sectors of the US economy Qatar would be investing in.

The Gulf state already spends billions on American planes and weapons, and helped fund the construction of CityCenterDC, a $1 billion development in the US capital that opened last year.

Sovereign wealth fund

The QIA is responsible for managing much of the proceeds raised from the sale of Qatar’s oil and natural gas. Estimates on the size of the fund over the past year have ranged from $250 billion to $334 billion.

Some of the QIA’s most well-known holdings include foreign property, hotels, retail chains and automotive manufacturers, including German carmaker Volkswagen.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Earlier this week, the Telegraph reported that the recent scandal surrounding the automaker’s alleged rigging of emission tests and subsequent collapse in its share price has cost the QIA some £3.3 billion (QR18.26 billion).

The QIA already has several investments in the US, including American jewelry retailer Tiffany and a stake in mobile taxi dispatching firm Uber.

The announcement of the New York office comes as QIA expands it geographic reach.

Transparency

In 2014, it agreed to contribute $2 billion toward a Russian state-backed private equity fund.

It also said it planned to establish a $10 billion investment venture with China’s Citic Group, Bloomberg reported.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Thani
Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Thani

The move also come amid new leadership at Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.

Late last year, Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Thani was appointed QIA’s new chief executive.

He has been chairman of state-owned telecom firm Ooredoo since 2000. Al Thani also served as chief of the Emiri Diwan from 2000 to 2005 and is a past member of Qatar’s planning council.

The QIA has previously been singled out by research firms for failing to comply with international standards for governance and transparency, Reuters reported last year.

“We are talking about huge sums of money here, and the problem is we do not know the logic with which they operate,” Sven Behrendt, managing director of research firm GeoEconomica, told the newswire.

He continued:

“If they don’t comply, they just don’t build the confidence that they are investing across the global financial system for economic and financial reasons alone, rather than for political ones.”

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