New Scotland Yard, the headquarters of London’s Metropolitan Police, has been sold to Gulf Arab investors for 370 million pounds ($580 million). The world’s most iconic police headquarters is set to become a “mixed-use residential development,” reported the Associated Press. London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, hailed the move, calling it a “landmark deal” and headed off any criticism by saying “anybody who thinks otherwise is, I’m afraid, completely economically illiterate,” according to the BBC.
This is the most recent of a wave of high-profile real estate sales to Gulf investors in London. Middle Eastern buyers have spent 4.4 billion pounds ($6.9 billion) since 2006, according to research by a London property firm cited by the Daily Mail. Arab investors now make up a tenth of all buyers in the city's exclusive Mayfair area. The royal family of Abu Dhabi are now the largest landowners in the area, second only to the Duke of Westminster.
The Abu Dhabi Financial Group, the Gulf-based investment firm that purchased the Scotland Yard headquarters, just completed a 310 million pound ($485 million) deal to convert a building next to Buckingham Palace into 72 luxury apartments, Bloomberg reported. The Scotland Yard deal is “one of the most important redevelopment projects undertaken in central London this decade,” said the group’s CEO Jassim Alseddiqi.
The proceeds of the sale, which procured 120 million pounds ($188 million) over the asking price, are to be spent on new technology for police officers, including tablets, smartphones and body cameras, the mayor’s office said. The force has raised 215 million pounds ($336 million) through the sale of more than 50 buildings recently, according to the BBC. Johnson called the sale a “vital cash boost” for the department. “The sale of this underused and outdated building means we can now not only protect that rich heritage but also fund the new HQ and kit out bobbies with the latest mobile technology to secure the future of the force,” he said.