Qatar is set to invest billions in a range of UK sectors including energy, tech, entertainment, property and sport, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Qatar's Prime Minister, has said.
Speaking exclusively to City A.M., Sheikh Abdullah said: "Qatar will be investing an additional £5bn in the UK over the next three to five years. This decision is based on our assessment of the British economy's strength. Qatar is a committed long-term partner for the UK."
Qatari ministers are in the UK this week to boost trade ties with Britain. The country's minister of economy and commerce Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani, who is also a part of the country's royal family, set out Qatar's stall in London to woo businesses as part of the Qatar-UK Business and Investment Forum.
Qatar holds investments worth £40bn in the UK. The Gulf state has a stake in a lot of British assets including London Stock Exchange, Canary Wharf, Barclays Bank, Heathrow Airport and Sainsbury's. The country snapped up Harrods in 2010 for £1.5bn.
"Qatar and the UK have a long and productive shared history," Sheikh Ahmed said.
"UK businesses played a defining role in the development of our economy, and we hope to see this relationship expand and deepen as we accelerate our transition into a knowledge-based economy."
The Qatari economic minister said Qatar and Britain's "economic partnership is enormous".
"Qatar has more invested in the UK than in any other country - to date over £40bn. And it goes both ways – In 2016, Qatar’s exports to the UK totalled £1.5bn and its imports totalled £1.1bn."
Speaking about why Qatar has backed various London projects including the Shard, Al Thani said: "We are excited to be in the midst of an ambitious economic diversification program. This has two dimensions: one dimension will be diversifying the productive capacity of the economy into non-oil and gas industries. The second dimension is reducing the reliance on oil and gas revenues by diversifying revenue generating assets.
"In doing so, we’re eager to spend more time and resources on building relationships with the international community – including by investing heavily in the UK."
The Gulf state is keen to attract British businesses to invest in the country through a state-owned investment vehicle Qatar Financial Centre (QFC).
"QFC offers 100 per cent foreign ownership, independent courts for dispute resolution, full profit repatriation and a low 10 per cent tax rate on locally-sourced profits and is protected from double taxation through an agreement with the UK," he said.
Al Thani added that Britain should explore setting up its regional hubs in Qatar to crack other international markets.
"At a time when Britain is seeking an exciting new global outlook, the relationship between Qatar and the UK is as essential as ever. The two-way movement of investment, trade, expertise and knowledge transfer offers a wonderful opportunity to develop links further.
"Qatar is very well positioned to play a strategic connection point between UK and Asia which is becoming the new centre of economic activity." he added.