Whenever a British or foreign property is sold to Qatar, the press as a matter of course seems always to assume the buyer is the (former) emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani or, more recently, his son Tamin bin Hamid Al Thani.
Such was the case with the sale of the historic Dudley House in London and Hôtel Lambert in Paris. Both these properties (and many more) were, in fact, purchased by the “other” Al Thani family.
Slightly less famous, but almost as wealthy, the “other” Al Thanis are the emir’s first cousins.
The six Al Thani brothers – Sheikhs Hamad, Suhaim, Fahad, Khalifa, Tamin and Mohammed – are the sons of Abdullah bin Khalifa Al Thani, the former emir’s brother.
In 1999, the six brothers founded their own investment company, QIPCO (Qatar Investment & Projects Development Holding Company). QIPCO is reportedly worth about $5 billion, and has no connections to the Q.I.A. (Qatar Investment Authority) or the business activities of the emir’s family. “Ours is a family company, completely private. QIPCO is a business that just happens to be based in Doha,” Sheikh Hamad has said.
The holding company has a diverse range of interests, including real estate, construction, oil and gas, trading and services, and finance. Geographically, its investments span from the Middle East and Europe to the U.S. and the Far East.
But it is their expensive “hobby” which has propelled the brothers in to the spotlight.
The boys have emerged seemingly from nowhere to become “the new superpower,” as they have been touted, in British horse racing.
Several years ago, middle brother Fahad persuaded oldest brother Hamad to establish Qatar Racing (which now has more than 300 horses in training all over the world) and Qatar Bloodstock (which owns more than 150 stallions, broodmares, and foals). Both are subsidiaries of QIPCO, which has become British racing’s biggest sponsor. Its large sponsorship portfolio includes QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot, run in October—the most lucrative racing day in Britain (drawing a $6 million purse this year).
The true royal seal of approval came early in 2015, when the Queen allowed QIPCO to become the first commercial sponsor of Royal Ascot in its 303-year history, thrusting the Al Thani brothers into the top echelon of British bloodstock owners, and society.
Sheikh Hamad, as the oldest brother, has become famous in London for his restoration of Dudley House. The family rotates between Dudley House, their palace in Doha, and various properties in France, which now include arguably Paris’s most majestic residence, the 17th-century Hôtel Lambert, on the Île Saint-Louis, which they purchased from the Rothschild family for $110 million in 2007 and are currently renovating.