Qatari PM sells Mayfair mansion block 'within family' for £39 million

Central London prime property in Balfour Place was converted into flats in 1991, The National understands

Balfour Place in Mayfair, central London. Alamy
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Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani has sold a mansion block in Mayfair to another member of the ruling family in a deal The National understands to be worth £39 million.

Sheikh Mohammed sold the Grade II-listed building to a fellow Qatari royal in October, in one of London’s most expensive home deals in the past year.

The National understands the property, at Balfour Place, was converted into flats in 1991. The block was originally bought by the Qatari Prime Minister in 2021, for a sum close to the asking price at the time of about £45 million.

The luxury property deal was understood to have been negotiated directly between the fellow royals.

The Qatari government's media office did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Sheikh Mohammed, a familiar face on the diplomatic circuit, was appointed Prime Minister of the gas-rich Gulf state last year, while continuing as Foreign Minister.

He has played an important role in discussions between Qatar and European countries about the supply of natural gas after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine upended energy markets.

The high-end property market in the UK capital has been relatively strong even as global central banks have raised interest rates and Britain prepares to toughen its tax rules for rich foreigners.

Still, some sellers have had to lower their ambitions when it comes to price.

British billionaire Bobby Arora sold a luxury townhouse in Belgravia – a neighbouring district to Mayfair – for £23.5 million at the end of last year, at a discount of roughly 30 per cent of the price paid in 2013.

In January, sold properties across London’s most prestigious districts dipped below 90 per cent of their asking prices for the first time since early 2019, according to researcher LonRes.

Qatari elites have snapped up so much real estate in Mayfair over the years that the area has been nicknamed “Little Doha” by some estate agents.

The former US embassy in the area is being redeveloped into a luxury hotel and apartments by Qatari Diar.

Abdulhadi Mana Al Hajri, owner of the Ritz Hotel and brother-in-law of Qatar’s Emir, bought a £37.5 million townhouse a short walk from Sheikh Mohammed’s former home last year.

In 2023, Mayfair was one of the most popular neighbourhoods for £5 million-plus deals in London, making up 8 per cent of these transactions, according to broker Savills Plc.

But some property owners – including other Qatari royals and the Al Khayyat family, which owns large parts of industry in the Gulf state – have considered selling mansions in London over the past 12 months.

UAE buyers featured in the top bracket of those purchasing prime central London property last year, according to research that showed the market topped £1 billion in 2023.

A report from super-prime property agent Beauchamp Estates found there were 54 sales of homes each worth more than £15 million ($18.9 million), amounting to £1.3 billion, sold in central London in the period.

About 60 per cent of them were bought by people from the US, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and China, who together purchased about £780 million worth of luxury property in the UK capital.

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Updated: May 03, 2024, 4:35 PM