Qatar is reviewing its investments in London after the city’s transport authority banned advertising of the country on buses, taxis and the Tube, it has been reported.
Transport for London’s (TfL) move comes amid concerns about the World Cup hosts’ human rights record, their stance on homosexuality and their treatment of migrant workers.
A person involved in the Qatar scrutiny of London investments told the Financial Times that TfL, which is led by the city’s Mayor Sadiq Khan, this week met Q22, the body overseeing the World Cup and the tourism board of contacted Qatar to inform them of the ban.
In response, Qatar was “reviewing its current and future investments” in London and is “considering investment opportunities in other UK cities and home countries,” the person involved in the review told the newspaper.
The source added that the TfL ban “was interpreted as a message from the mayor’s office that business from Qatar is not welcome in London”.
The Gulf state has become one of the largest investors in London through its sovereign wealth fund.
Earlier this month, the Observer reported that the state of Qatar alone, not counting the personal belongings of individual royals, is the 10th largest landowner in the UK, according to analysts at MSCI Real Assets.
The emirate owns nearly 2.1 million square meters (23 million square feet) of land in the UK.
Properties in the Qatar Investment Authority’s portfolio include Harrods department store in Knightsbridge; Britain’s tallest building, The Shard, built with almost £2bn investment in Qatar; Mansion Forbes House; Chelsea Barracks; and the hotels Savoy and Grosvenor House.
It also co-owns Canary Wharf and has a 20% stake in Heathrow Airport.
In May, the Gulf state pledged to invest £10 billion in Britain over five years, including in technology, healthcare, infrastructure and clean energy.
A spokesman for Khan told the FT the mayor is not involved in day-to-day decisions regarding advertising on the city’s transport network.
A TfL spokesman said it had given “advertising partners and brands further guidance” on acceptable advertising during the World Cup.