According to figures recently released by Customs and Excise, Qatar was the UK’s third biggest export customer for art and antiques in the nine months between September 2003 and May 2004.
The tiny, oil- and gas-rich Gulf State, with a population of just 840,000, exported over £48.4 million ($87.12 million) worth of art, antiques, statuary and prints from the UK during that period, including over £25.8 million ($46.4 million) of “antiques over 100 years old” in the first six months of this year. There are just a handful of buyers in Qatar, most notably the world’s biggest collector of art, Sheikh Saud al-Thani, who buys for five museums currently under construction in the capital Doha. Sheikh Saud’s first cousin, the Emir, also collects art and antiques, as do other family members. The figures put Qatar into third place among the UK’s export customers, behind the US (£1.24 billion, $2.23 billion) and Switzerland (£324 million, $583 million).