Qatar's royal family bags some bargain Greek islands

The emir's purchase also signals stronger financial ties between the oil-rich Gulf state and Europe's most-bankrupt country.

By Bruce Kennedy Mar 6, 2013 9:57AM

File photo of a beach in the Ionian Sea ( Peter Landon/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images)Looking for your own island paradise, at fire-sale prices? You might want to check out Greece.

Qatar's royal family is doing just that. It's buying six Greek islands in the Ionian Sea for a mere $11 million (€8.5million) to create a private family resort. The deal is one of the largest private investments ever in Greece, whose ongoing debt crisis has made it the European Union's most bankrupt country.

And the emir of Qatar apparently knows how to drive a hard bargain. The first of the islands for sale, uninhabited Oxia, was originally offered at $9.13 million (€7 million) before its owner agreed to $6.93 million (€4.9 million).

"The islands have been in my family for over 150 years but we are not rich enough to be able to keep such valuable properties any longer," Denis Grivas told The Guardian. He cited the sky-high property taxes he's been paying since the start of the Greek debt crisis and deep recession: "We are very, very happy to see them go. They have been on the market for nearly 40 years."

Greece's government is apparently happy to have attracted investment from oil-rich Qatar. The Financial Times reports the sale of Oxia came four weeks after Greek Premier Antonis Samaras flew to Qatar to rebuild financial ties with the wealthy Gulf state.

"Our country offers important investment opportunities," Samaras recently told "We experienced a dramatic crisis but it has made us wiser, more decisive and stronger."

And along with supplying personal playgrounds for Qatari royalty, analysts see the stronger economic ties as an economic lifeline for Greece. According to The Economist, Qatar is also looking to develop a large coastal site in Athens and possibly having the Greek capital as the European hub for its national airline, Qatar Airways.

"Qatar has invested a lot of funds in Italy, France and now they see Greece as an opportunity to invest [because of the recession] and prices are low in various sectors," John Nomikos, who heads the Athens-based Research Institute in European and American Studies, told SETimes.

"The Qataris know the capitalist model very well and they also know that Greece will recover from recession in the future," he added, "so their investment is going to offer them profits."

Don't think, however, the emir's representatives had an easy time with the actual purchase of the Greek islands. The deal took about 18 months to finalize.

"Greece is that kind of place," Ioannis Kassianos, the Greek-American mayor of Ithaca, told the Guardian. Ithaca has administrative responsibility for Oxia. "Even when you buy an island, even if you are the emir of Qatar, it takes a year and a half for all the paperwork to go through."

More on moneyNOW

Mar 6, 2013 10:51AM
We are on our way....We just want a small one.....Where we can run around naked.
Mar 6, 2013 1:40PM
Our government is so hell bent on following the path of debt that Greece went down I wonder what the Royals will pick up all of our National Parks  for?
Mar 6, 2013 2:01PM

If your country spends money without restraint, sooner or larter the bill will become due.  Yes, every thing the government provides has a cost.  If you don't want to sale our parks, our public lands, our wildlife preserves, quit asking the government to pay for items we should be responsible for.  If you want free Health Care, then say good bye to the Grand Canyon. If you want extended unemployment, say goodbye to Yellowstone.  Can't complain if you vote for people that spend your money with no regard to the cost.

Mar 6, 2013 12:32PM
Is there an island somewhere to deport several million "progressive liberals" to test a new welfare system that mirrors "Lord of the Flies"? 
Mar 6, 2013 1:10PM
A TROJAN Camel....Now that is funny..
Mar 6, 2013 2:40PM
When will they all learn...None of this is yours. Your just paying to be the temporary custodian...
Mar 6, 2013 12:50PM
Same old story.  Make something too expensive for the real working class to enjoy.  Those that are not blind can see the end.
Mar 6, 2013 2:55PM

Money Talks,

The oil industry has made Quatar's royal family billionaires many times over, with business and real estate investments around the world. They literally have money coming in faster than anyone could even shovel it into a vault, let alone spend it. With their vast wealth their very astute purchase of these 6 Greek isles for only $11 million is like the average person going out and buying a hamburger and fries. Obviously the seller was very motivated due to high maintainence and tax contraints, but it still must have hurt to have to part with this island paradise at such a bargain price. Perhaps the new owners will invest some much-needed capital improvements into these islands and in the process create jobs for some of Greece's many unemployed people.


Peace to all ~

Mar 6, 2013 12:31PM
More power to them.  One of the reasons for the current housing recovery is foreigners, particularly Chinese grabbing homes at bargain prices here.
Mar 6, 2013 2:34PM
"He cited the sky-high he's been paying since the start of the Greek debt crisis and deep recession: "We are very, very happy to see them go."

This is already happening in the US.  Get ready for fire sales to start happening all across the US for Government Property that tax payers are having to pay for the upkeep.  Of course it won't matter because our taxes will not go down.
Mar 6, 2013 12:58PM
What are they asking for the Acropolis?
Mar 6, 2013 12:34PM
Big Money can buy anything...but not my kitties. They are priceless!
Seriously, the world in some generations will be owned by the 1% and the rest of the 99% will be like a herd of sheep....until one sheep steps up and leads the flock to freedom and ownership of the Earth, that we are ALL born to live on.

Mar 6, 2013 12:34PM

Really pathetic,,"The Royals" taking advantage of the same messes their class start to protect their interests with the blood and money of the people...this story makes me sick

Mar 6, 2013 1:45PM
Thats too cheap, had they advertised it properly and held and auction, they could have gotten atleast 10 times more.
Mar 6, 2013 3:13PM

I can't imagine anyone else buying it. The Greek government already taxes it heavily each year, and that amount is only likely to increase. You couldn't justify building a resort business there, because you could be taxed out of existence in short order. Only some royals who need a place to flee to, when their neighboring countries decide to loot them, would be interested in such a property.

Mar 6, 2013 4:02PM
Now the Greek government can raise revenue by taxing the hell out of the Islands.
Mar 6, 2013 3:46PM
What will the America sell when it goes bankrupt? And at what price? We cannot pay the federal debt now it is only a matter of time!!! When America goes bankrupt will we pay off China or will we pay social security???
Mar 6, 2013 4:45PM
Qatar is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. For anyone who want to praise their "capitalist" model of system. They would do well to remember that the royal family owns well over 50% of all businesses in Qatar, so that most private profit goes directly into the coffers of the royal family. How else do you think the Qatar royal family managed to amass a fortune that would make the British royal family jealous with such a tiny country and impoverished population?
Mar 6, 2013 2:21PM
Don't write off Greece, they can make a comeback.......
I'm waiting for Calif beach property to reach realistic levels...

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