Qatar | Newsmakers

Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohamed bin Saud Al-Thani heads reshuffle at the QIA.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohamed bin Saud Al-Thani, a member of Qatar’s ruling family, was appointed CEO of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) as part of a reshuffle that includes the addition of other Al-Thani family members. The emir’s half brother, sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Thani, is the QIA’s new chairman, and vice chairman is sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohamed Al-Thani.

Currently chairman of Qatar telecommunications firm Ooredoo, sheikh Abdullah replaces Ahmed Al-Sayed, who held the post of CEO for just 16 months. Diego López, director of sovereign wealth funds at PwC, believes that as the tendency in the region is for the major positions to be held by members of the ruling royal family, the replacement of non-family-member Al-Sayed was not surprising. “That said,” notes López, “Al-Sayed was very well known, and he took Qatar Holdings to another level. He was very good at investments, and my understanding is that he will stay linked to the family.”

When sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani succeeded his father as emir in June 2013, many analysts predicted he would take a more cautious approach to investment than that of his father, who was known to be aggressive with foreign affairs. According to López, Al-Sayed was fond of obtaining trophy assets and developed a very aggressive investment strategy; but that tack was not fully in line with what sheikh Tamim saw for the future of the QIA. Under new leadership, López believes, the investment authority will buy fewer trophy assets. “That does not mean there will be a drop in investments in Europe,” he says. “However, they may start to look at more investments in the Gulf region, as well as abroad.”

With holdings estimated at more than $304 billion, the QIA is one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds. Investments include much of London’s prime real estate. “They will always love London and always be ready to buy real estate assets as they become available,” concludes López.