Qatar is reviewing its investments in London after the city’s transport authority banned the country’s adverts on buses, taxis and underground trains, it was reported.
The move by Transport for London (TfL) is understood to be linked to concerns about the World Cup hosts’ human rights record, stance on homosexuality and treatment of migrant workers.
A person involved in the Qatari review of London investments told the Financial Times that TfL, which is chaired by the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, contacted Q22, the body overseeing the World Cup, and Qatar’s tourism authority this week to inform them about the ban.
In response, Qatar was “reviewing their current and future investments” in London and was “considering investment opportunities in other UK cities and home nations”, the person involved in the review told the newspaper.
The source added that the TfL ban “has been interpreted as a message from the mayor’s office that Qatari business is not welcome in London”.
The Gulf state has become one of biggest investors in London through its sovereign wealth fund.
Earlier this month, the Observer reported that the state of Qatar alone, not counting individual royals’ personal holdings, is the 10th largest landowner in the UK, according to analysts at MSCI Real Assets.
The emirate owns nearly 2.1m sq metres (23m sqft) of property in Britain.
Among the properties in the portfolio of the Qatar Investment Authority are department store Harrods in Knightsbridge; Britain’s tallest building, the Shard, which was built with nearly £2bn of Qatari investment; Forbes House mansion; Chelsea Barracks; and the Savoy and Grosvenor House hotels.
It is also a co-owner of Canary Wharf and has a 20% stake in Heathrow airport.
In May, the Gulf state pledged to invest £10bn over five years in the UK including in the technology, healthcare, infrastructure and clean energy sectors.
A spokesperson for Khan told the FT the mayor was not involved in day-to-day decisions regarding advertising on the city’s transport network.
A TfL spokesperson said it had provided “advertising partners and brands with further guidance” on acceptable advertising during the World Cup.