Qatar has pledged to invest £10bn in the UK, including the technology, healthcare, infrastructure and clean energy sectors, as British government steps up its efforts to woo sovereign wealth fund investment from oil-rich Gulf states.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, the Gulf state’s foreign minister, told the Financial Times that the funds would be channelled through the Qatar Investment Authority over the next five years.
“We hope this will bring a big deal of opportunities to the UK and Qatar in the near future,” said Sheikh Mohammed, who is chair of the QIA, which has an estimated $450bn under management.
“Especially in the areas of technology, fintech, sustainability, there’s great potential with zero-net happening,” he added, referring to the UK’s plans to cut the UK’s net carbon emissions to zero by 2050.
UK prime minister Boris Johnson welcomed the deal with Qatar as a vote of confidence in British business. “The new UK-Qatar strategic investment partnership will create quality job opportunities across the country in key sectors, delivering on our vision of economic growth through trade and investment,” he said.
The investment agreement was announced during talks between Johnson and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Qatar’s emir, on Tuesday.
Last year, the UK signed a similar deal with Mubadala, the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund, to invest £10bn. The oil and gas producing Gulf states have seen their revenues soar as energy prices have remained high over the past year.
Qatar has a long record of investing in the UK and has already invested £5bn in Britain since 2017. It also owns several trophy assets, including Harrods and the Shard skyscraper in London.
The UK and Qatar also signed a memorandum of understanding “to work together to boost innovation and collaboration, supporting the security of global energy supplies”.
As the world’s top exporter of liquefied natural gas, Qatar’s importance to the UK and the rest of Europe has increased in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Gulf state supplies about 40 per cent of the UK’s LNG and is in talks to increase its exports to the country.
Qatari officials have been holding talks with numerous governments and energy companies in Europe, including Germany, France, Italy and Spain, to agree long term LNG contracts and increase exports to the continent as it attempts to reduce its dependency on Russian energy.
In the UK, Qatar is the majority owner of South Hook LNG terminal in Wales, which has the capacity to supply a fifth of the UK’s gas needs. Last year it also secured rights for storage capacity at the LNG terminal on Isle of Grain in Kent, for 25 years from 2025.