World

Qatar copies Saudi Arabia's 'investment diplomacy'

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump may accuse Qatar of sponsoring terrorism, but that did not stop the wealthy emirate this week from lighting up the Empire State Building in the national colours of the Middle Eastern nation.

Mr Trump - who himself once tried to acquire the Manhattan skyscraper - has sided with Saudi Arabia in its increasingly bitter dispute with Qatar, but Doha has adopted a tactic long used by its more powerful Saudi neighbour to get its own way, buying up substantial shares in the US economy as a bulwark against shifting political sands.

The iconic 102-story Empire State building was bathed in the maroon and white of Qatar Airways, the state flag carrier of Qatar, ostensibly to celebrate 10 years of flights into the United States.

Less obvious was the fact that almost a year ago, the oil and gas-rich emirate purchased a 10 per cent, US$622 million (S$855.6 million) stake in the all-American building, AFP reported.

Mr Trump once tried unsuccessfully to seize control of the building during his heyday as a New York property mogul, when he still owned the land that the skyscraper stands on.

Last month, Qatar stunned American Airlines with plans to acquire a 10 per cent stake in the world's largest commercial air carrier.

"They have tentacles everywhere, they are amazing," said Randa Slim, a scholar at the Middle East Institute. Qatar's greatest international asset, of course, is hosting the forward headquarters of US Central Command on its soil. - AFP

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